As part of agoge (Spartan training), a young Spartan would participate in the Krypteia, which was essentially a yearly “war” against the helots (slaves), and boys as young as 12 would partake in the slaughter using the stealthy tactics they learned in agoge. So, next time you have a final exam, just be thankful you’re not being graded based on a body count.
photo – ushistoryimages.com
When it comes time to test the manhood of young Algonquin Indian men they are taken to a secluded area, caged, and fed a powerful drug called wysoccan. The whole purpose behind this is to cause the man to forget any memories of his childhood, which consequently includes his family and friends. If the new man acknowledges any memories from his youth after returning to the village, he will be given a second dose of the drug.
photo – olympus.co.uk
Young Fula boys must undergo a whipping battle in which they trade blows with another boy from a different tribe in order to become a man. The sticks they use to whip each other have sharpened points and thorns all over them to maximize the pain they inflict, and both boys attempt to take the blows without wincing or showing any signs of weakness. The boy whom the observing crowd deems the winner is considered the bravest, and earns the right to be called a man.
Though scarification is done by people all over the world, it is practiced heavily by Sepik River tribes in Papua New Guinea as part of an initiation ceremony for men. This is only a small part of a ceremony that lasts weeks and includes public humiliation, but it’s ridiculously painful. The elders of the tribe use razor blades to cut the young men all over their bodies in a pattern that closely imitates the rough skin of an alligator. They believe that the alligator will then consume any semblance of a boy left in their bodies, and they will become men.
photo – nationalgeographic.com
The Okrika tribe of Nigeria believes that the young woman of the tribe form romantic relationships with water spirits during their childhood. For this reason young girls must perform the Iria ritual in order to end their love affair with the water spirits before being married. The ritual consists of singing songs by a river for days on end during which the water spirits make one final attempt to capture their lovers, but not before they are rescued by a man from their tribe.
photo – pib.socioambiental.org
Performed by the Ticuna people of the Northwest Amazon, this is an initiation into womanhood for all of the girls in the tribe. Beginning at menstruation they are secluded in a small chamber for several months while they are believed to go to the underworld. Eventually she returns and is released after which she is officially a woman.
Considered a rite of passage in ancient Greece, this practice involved the publicly sanctioned relationship between an older man and a younger boy. Many historians believe it coincided with the beginning of a young male’s military career.
At seven years old young boys are taken from their mothers and placed in an all-male hut for the next ten years of their life. During this period they engage heavily in nose bleeding, forced vomiting and defecation (by way of sugarcane), and semen ingestion in order to rid themselves of impurities and become men.
Although we realize internet penetration rates in most developing countries are relatively low, just in case you happen to be an African tribesman or Amazonian warrior checking in on your satellite phone allow us to introduce you to a peculiarity of western culture…the Sweet 16. No blood, no pain, no near death experiences. Sounds pretty boring right? Yea, we agree, so back to the cool stuff…
In addition to scarification, Papua New Guinea is home to another extreme right of passage. The Matausa tribe believe that a boy will never realize his true strength if his body is not cleansed. In order to rid them of impurity and help them gain the vitality a warrior needs, the young men will first stick two wooden canes down their throats until they vomit. Then reeds are forced up their nostrils and their tongues are stabbed until their blood has been sufficiently purified.
A boy living in the Aztec Empire began his military training at 17 and he would only be considered a man once he captured an enemy and brought him back as his prisoner to be sacrificed. His next objective was significantly more difficult however. If he wanted to become a Jaguar or Eagle warrior it would require 20 more sacrifices, and therefore 20 more prisoners.
In order for a Mandan boy to become a warrior he had to fast for 4 days without sleeping. On the 5th day the boys were taken into a hut where wooden skewers were forced through their chests and they were hung from the ceiling. They had to smile through the whole, agonizing process, until they finally passed out. Oh, but we’re not done. Immediately after the boys wake up they cut off their little fingers as an offering to the spirits and are welcomed into manhood.
photo – ordenycultura.es
When it is time for a young Mardudjara aborigine to enter manhood, he is led by the tribe’s elders to a secluded place. While one of the elders sits on his chest another will slice of the boy’s foreskin. After enduring this without any form of anesthesia, the boy is then given his foreskin, and must swallow it without chewing. After the circumcision heals the boy is led to an isolated area again where the underside of his penis is cut down to the scrotum and he must stand, bleeding, over a fire. Welcome to manhood.
photo – unnatural.ru
Deep in the jungles of the Brazilian Amazon live the Satere-Mawe tribe. Young boys from this tribe have to wear gloves made of bullet ants with inward pointing stingers as they dance for 10 minutes without flinching. Unfortunately for the boys, the bullet ants have the most painful sting of any insect. It causes paralysis and throbbing pain for up to 24 hours.
Practiced in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, this gruesome and often life threatening ritual is also known as female circumcision. During the procedure the labia and clitoris are removed after which a wall of flesh forms across the vagina. A small hole is then pricked in it to allow for menstruation and urine.