Brief Overview of Human Branding
Human branding is the practice of burning a person’s skin with the use of heated instruments to create a permanent scar shaped as a symbol. Human branding has been in existence for centuries and has served different purposes in each society.
It used to be that certain individuals receive human branding by force. Slave owners brand their slaves to identify them as their property. In general, slave owners did not view their slaves as human beings. Hence, it was easy for them to brand slaves as if they would their livestock.
Human branding is also a form of torture and punishment for criminals in ancient criminal laws. Hot iron was used to burn symbols into individuals. The practice is not only extremely painful but also humiliating as marks are often burned on visible parts of the body.
While the practice of human branding in the past is dehumanizing, in the modern world a growing number of individuals deliberately do it as a form of body art. People today choose to have their skin branded to express themselves.
In certain groups, such as gangs and fraternities, human branding may also serve as an initiation test or rite-of-passage ritual.
There are several methods of human branding done today, none of which includes the hot iron branding of ancient times. The most common method is strike branding where the branding artist cuts metal sheets into pieces and forms them according to a specific design. The artist then takes one piece, heats it with a blowtorch and once it reaches the right temperature, the artist strikes or presses the heated metal piece onto the person’s skin. Usually, a design requires several metal pieces so the artist has to make several strikes to complete the branding.
Another popular human branding method is cautery branding which involves the use of a medical cautery pen, which is a handheld and battery-operated tool effective for fine-line branding. Electrosurgery branding is another option wherein electric current is used to burn the skin. This method makes possible slightly more intricate designs.
A rare method in human branding is cold branding or freeze branding, which utilizes similar procedure to strike branding but employs extreme cold rather than using heat. The branding device is immersed in liquid nitrogen or other cooling agents.
Human branding services are common in Western countries. Often body piercing or tattoo shops also offer this type of body modification. Human branding is a serious procedure with risks of infections and other third-degree burn complications. Therefore, do not attempt self-branding. Choose a qualified body artist by visiting local studios in your area, talking to former clients and looking at previous branding work of the artist.