Many Africans were grouped with the belief that they are naturally suited for certain jobs. Slaves were sorted by anatomy and the purported ability to function better in certain climates, resistance to diseases, and life expectancy. Based on this classification, they were either assigned to the fields or rigorous housework. They were commonly scarification marks, tattoos and cuts. These indicated their identities, ethnicity, religious affiliation, life events, accomplishments and social status. The markings also helped to recapture escaped slaves and ensure slaveholders paid taxes.
Race relations in Brazil are generally thought of in terms of multiple skin color categories associated with various inter-ethnic relationships. But its largest enslaved population consisted of Africans.
Body markings was a tool for identification and cataloging. In addition to body marks, the hair texture, skin tone and nose shape of individual Africans were recorded and contrasted with European features.