Saturday’s Tidal concert had a lot of folks talking. From Nicki Minaj’s backstage and on stage twerking, to Beyonce not missing a beat after getting a bloody ear from a wardrobe malfunction. A less obvious, but equally interesting story involved Beyonce’s red carpet Tidal dress, which was designed to mimic the African tradition of scarification.
“The dress without the context of the inspiration is beautiful in and of itself. But when you get the backstory, you might appreciate it even more.
The pattern for the bead work came from this picture of an African woman’s back, which had been intricately and artistically scarred.
The picture below was posted on Beyoncé.com and later on the Instagram page Beylite, where there is a bit of debate about the authenticity of the story, likely because they didn’t realize the image was on the singer’s official page. But if you look at the two images side by side, it’s hard to ignore the similarities.”
Beyonce has infused her music and visuals with African influences for several years now. She acknowledged Nigerian Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti as an inspiration for her album 4, and incorporated Mozambican dance heavily into the choreography for her hit single Run the World. And of course there is African imagery all up and through Lemonade, so it’s not surprising Bey would continue this theme.
Scarification is actually a fading practice in African culture due, in part, to the impact of modernization and urbanization. In 2014 Ivorian photographer Joana Choumali set out to document scarification.
“This practice is disappearing due to the pressure of religious and state authorities, urban practices and the introduction of clothing in tribes. In many villages, only the older people wear scarifications… I also had trouble finding people to photograph because of their rarity. This “last generation” of people bearing the imprint of the past on their faces, went from being the norm and having a high social value to being somewhat “excluded”. These last scarified are the last witnesses of an Africa of a bygone era.”
Either way, Bey’s dress is absolutely gorgeous.