The Meaning Behind Mongolian Birthmarks
Updated on March 1, 2024
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The Meaning Behind Mongolian Birthmarks

Mongolian spots are bluish-gray birthmarks that often appear on the lower back of babies. They’re common in babies of Asian, Native American, Hispanic, East Indian, and African descent. These spots usually fade away by the time a child is a teenager.

Myths and Beliefs from Around the World

Different cultures have their own stories and beliefs about Mongolian spots:

  1. Chinese Myth – In China, the Mongolian spot is sometimes referred to as “taiji,” which is associated with a legend that when a child is born, God gives it a “spank” to give it a start in life
  2. Mongolian Belief – Mongolians have historically considered the birthmark as a heavenly seal, reflecting the patronage of the eternal blue sky over their descendants
  3. Korean Mythology – The spot is explained as a bruise formed when Samshin Halmi, a shaman spirit, slaps the baby’s back to hasten birth
  4. Maya People – Among the Maya people of the Yucatan Peninsula, it is referred to as “Wa,” which means the “circle of heaven”
  5. Kyrgyz Belief – The spot is seen as a sign of protection from evil and a guarantee of life
  6. Uighurs and Other Turkic Peoples – They believe the spot is a mark of Tengri, the sky deity, or Umai-ene, who blesses the newborn by slapping him on the buttocks

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What Science Says

Mongolian spots happen when pigment cells get trapped in deeper skin layers as a baby develops. They are completely harmless and not linked to any diseases. In very rare cases, large numbers of spots might be a sign of a separate medical condition.

Respecting Differences

The term “Mongolian spot” is no longer considered appropriate. The preferred medical term is “congenital dermal melanocytosis.” These birthmarks are simply a natural part of the amazing variety of human skin.

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Updated on March 1, 2024
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5 sources cited
Updated on March 1, 2024
  1. Mongolian Spots.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology.
  2. Mysteries of the Mongolian Blue Spot.” Mongolianz.
  3. Mongolian Spot.” Wikipedia.
  4. Mongolian spots: How important are they?” PubMed Central.
  5. Mongolian Blue Spots.” Mount Sinai.
Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad
Content Contributor
Angela is a full-time digital content manager and editor for Know Your DNA. She also contributes freelance articles to several local and international websites when she has the time. She's always been a voracious believer in finding the truth and ensuring the science is sound.