War Paint Ideas

Written by megan burns
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War Paint Ideas
Intimidate your enemies with war paint. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

War paint styles vary from culture to culture, but the main purpose of its application is to intimidate the enemy. If you plan to highlight a specific culture's war paint style for a school presentation, or if you just want to psyche out your opponent for your next sports match in a new and creative way, explore a variety of traditional war paint looks to gain inspiration.

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Native American War Paint

Each Native American tribe has a specific variation on traditional war paint, so do some research to find a style that suits you. One example of a style to use for inspiration is that of the Seminole tribe. While it would be inappropriate to replicate Seminole war paint outside of a ceremonial situation or battle re-enactment, you can reference the colours used as a starting point for your own war paint variation. For instance, red and black paint were used to signify the coming of war. Green paint was believed to empower the wearer with night vision when applied beneath the eyes, while yellow paint was representative of death.

Aboriginal War Paint

The Aborigines of Australia have historically used war paint as a method of intimidating the enemy during fierce battle. The typical patterns include stripes and circles, although each Aboriginal tribe has its own specific variations. The tribesmen use ground up ochre to create the paint for their faces and bodies, and the most commonly used colours include red and white. If you can't grind ochre for pigment, simply use red or white face paint to replicate traditional Aboriginal war paint patterns and designs.

Maori War Paint

Maori tribes in New Zealand practice an art form called ta-moko, or facial tattooing, that is used ceremonially to demonstrate strength and power. Each facial tattoo design is distinct; the artist incorporates the recipient's facial attributes into the design before he begins tattooing. Traditionally, the tattoos were also incised, meaning the skin was scarred through the process. Today, this art is typically demonstrated via face painting rather than tattooing, and the tribesmen recreate traditional intricate patterns and designs like tightly woven spirals. To stay in keeping with the one-of-a-kind aspect of Maori face painting, focus your war paint design to highlight your personal facial features.

Bororo War Paint

The Nigerian Bororo tribe is known for its Gerewol festival, which revolves around the tribeswomen selecting the best of the men. There are several ways the men try to appeal to the women by dance, dress and the use of face paint. While not technically a warring occasion, this festival is heavily influenced by the spirit of competition, and, as such, the face paint suggests a sort of war paint. Red and yellow face paints are among the most typical colour varieties favoured by the competing men; the paints are applied in creative ways that the tribesmen hope will set them apart from the rest of the competition. Use the traditional colours to come up with creative, standout designs for your war paint.

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