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Throughout the run of DS9, Cardassian females can often be seen with one or more of their neck-bones colored in blue or purple. An example is in the screenshot below. Same goes for the spoon-shaped area on the forehead. It's a neat little cultural quirk that was never explained on the show.

Is this coloring permanent (ie, a tattoo) and what does it signify? Or is it just the Cardassian version of wearing makeup?

enter image description here

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  • 1
    Same with the forehead-spoon
    – Izkata
    May 3, 2018 at 3:53
  • 3
    Maybe that part of a female Cardassian’s skin is blue or purple. May 3, 2018 at 4:02
  • It seems to be an inconsistent feature, unlike the blueing of the forehead spoon
    – Valorum
    May 3, 2018 at 6:26
  • Could just be a common birthmark. May 3, 2018 at 17:23
  • You might want to add the blue mark in the forehead ridge to this question since my answer addresses both
    – Valorum
    Jun 15, 2019 at 20:25

1 Answer 1

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Main Canon

It appears to be a cosmetic of some description. Not only do the blue marks appear inconsistently on different Cardassian females (ranging from highly visible to not at all), but we also see these marks appear and disappear on Garak, a Cardassian male, which strongly suggests that they're temporary and cosmetic rather than physiological and permanent.

enter image description here enter image description here

The make-up artist who designed the physical masks, Michael Westmore stated in a featurette that they were "painted", but it's not apparent whether he's talking about that from an in-universe perspective.

"To give them [female Cardassians] something a little different, because at the beginning we thought 'How you gonna tell them apart if they're not wearing a dress', was to take and paint the center of their spoons at the center of their forehead, to paint it blue. And then we picked out the second or third rung down on their neckpiece and that was also painted blue. So all female Cardassians always had those blue markings."

DS9: Season 2 - special features: Make up and costumes


EU Canon

In the novel Terok Nor: Dawn of the Eagles, Quark offers us the benefit of his experience regarding Cardassian women. The blue mark on the forehead (and presumably the marks on the collarbone) are makeup.

Women were a different matter. Quark came up from the cellar after the lunch rush one fine, lucrative day to find that there was a new face in his establishment, a female face. He’d seen Cardassian women before, but they were always either uniformed or accompanied by a male. This woman was neither. She was dressed in a long, green gown—not a scientist or a soldier, and apparently nobody’s wife, either. The dimple in her forehead was painted bright blue, something that Quark was reasonably certain indicated that she was not married.

Terok Nor: Dawn of the Eagles

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    Interesting how visibly different Garak's two different prosthetics are. The bony structures around the eyes and leading up the forehead are quite a bit different.
    – FreeMan
    May 5, 2022 at 13:43
  • @FreeMan - His are more expensive and reusable. The others are made of cheaper material
    – Valorum
    May 5, 2022 at 14:26

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