Some Tattoo History
Tattooing has been practiced for centuries in many cultures, particularly in Asia and spread throughout the world. The Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan, traditionally had facial tattoos. Today, one can find Atayal, Seediq, Truku, and Saisiyat of Taiwan, Berbers of Tamazgha (North Africa), Yoruba, Fulani and Hausa people of Nigeria, and Māori of New Zealand with facial tattoos. Tattooing spread among Polynesians and among certain tribal groups in Africa, Borneo, Cambodia, Europe, Japan, the Mentawai Islands, MesoAmerica, New Zealand, North America and South America, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Indeed, Great Britain takes its name from tattooing; Britons translates as "people of the designs", and Picts, the peoples who originally inhabited the northern part of Britain, literally means "the painted people".
The universality of tattooing is a curious subject for speculation. Captain James Cook, 1779.
Indeed much to speculate. I personally wanted one when I was very young. Between the ages of five and eight, sitting beside a man in Folkestone market (in the days when you were not hidden away in ‘clean conditions’). I asked if I could watch and sat mesmerised as an Indian chiefs head with glorious feathered head gear appeared on the mans upper arm. I waited over twenty years to begin my relationship with ‘ink’, so easy to become addicted, that, had I started when I was eighteen I’m sure I would have my back completely covered by now. I remember seeing a man strip off his tee shirt to try on a dress shirt in Faversham - he had the most magnificent hunt scene I have ever seen, never bested in all the years since.
I held my need in check until long after I became a mother, now I have four, (technically six but the two on each thigh joined up). Mine were designed by me, never to be repeated – therefore utterly unique. Does my husband mind. I asked him for a quote or comment. An old world way of expressing your joy and commitments. Picture painting at its most perfect.
It has to be said that you do have to put a high degree of trust in the man waggling the machine over your dermis. I did meet a chap who during a drunken binge, thought he was gaining an ancient Chinese proverb. Later, he found the beautiful shapes on his upper arm actually read “Sweet and sour chicken and fried rice please.” Ever the optimist he used to stagger into many a take away on a Saturday night, roll up his sleeve and midst giggles from the person taking the order, sated his hunger. I met a young chap during my work who had the bar code of Sainsbury’s lard tattooed on his upper right rump, tested positive by a cashier, as the till pinged and nineteen pence sprang up into the electronic display.
The modern revival in tattooing stems from the voyage of Captain James Cook in the late 1700s. Cook's Science Officer and Expedition Botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, returned to England with a tattoo. Banks was a highly regarded member of the English aristocracy and had acquired his position with Cook by putting up what was at the time the princely sum of some ten thousand pounds in the expedition. In turn, Cook brought back with him a tattooed Raiatean man, Omai, whom he presented to King George and the English Court. Many of Cook's men, ordinary seamen and sailors, came back with tattoos, a tradition that would soon become associated with men of the sea in the public's mind and the press of the day. In the process sailors and seamen re-introduced the practice of tattooing in Europe and it spread rapidly to seaports around the globe.
As many tattoos were stimulated by Polynesian and Japanese examples, amateur tattoo artists were in great demand in port cities all over the world, especially by European and American sailors. The first documented professional tattoo artist in the USA was Martin Hildebrandt, a German immigrant who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1846. Between 1861 and 1865, he tattooed soldiers on both sides in the American Civil War. The first documented professional tattooist in Britain was established in Liverpool in the 1870’s. Tattooing was an expensive and painful process, and by the 1870’s had become a mark of wealth for the crowned heads of Europe.
Since the 1970’s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of global and Western fashion, common among both sexes, to all economic classes, and to age groups from the later teen years to middle age. For many young Americans, the tattoo has taken on a decidedly different meaning than for previous generations. The tattoo has "undergone dramatic redefinition" and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of _expression_. In 2010, 25% of Australians under age 30 had tattoos.
A young lady of Papua New Guinea – the deep V’s show she is now of marriageable age.
Cassandra Franklin-Barbajosa wrote:
"It's a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling," sings Jimmy Buffett of parents' dismay over their daughter's tattoo. Yet those indelible body markings are more than a trend embraced by merchant marines, bikers and Goths in basic black. Tattoos arise from a rich cultural history dating back 5,000 years.
The earliest record of tattoos, to date, was found in 1991 on the frozen remains of the Copper Age "Iceman" scientists have named Ötzi. His lower back, ankles, knees, and a foot were marked with a series of small lines, made by rubbing powdered charcoal into vertical cuts. X-rays revealed bone degeneration at the site of each tattoo, leading researchers to believe that Ötzi's people, ancestors of contemporary central and northern Europeans, may have used tattoos as medical treatment to reduce pain.
As civilizations developed, tattoos took on other meanings. Egyptian funerary figures of female dancers from around 2000 B.C. display the same abstract dot-and-dash tattoos on their bodies as those found on female mummies from that time period. Later images represent Bes, god of fertility and revelry.
Ancient Romans found no reason to celebrate tattoos, believing in the purity of the human form. Except as brands for criminals and the condemned, tattoos were banned. But over time, the Roman attitudes toward tattoos changed. Fighting an army of Britons who wore their tattoos as badges of honor, some Romans came to admire their enemies' ferocity as well as the symbols that represented it. Soon Roman soldiers were wearing their own body marks; Roman doctors even perfected the art of application and removal.
During the Crusades of the 11th and 12th centuries, warriors identified themselves with the mark of the Jerusalem cross so that they could be given a proper Christian burial if they died in battle. After the Crusades, tattooing largely disappeared in the West for a time, but continued to flourish in other places.
By the early 18th century, European sailors encountered the inhabitants of the South and Central Pacific islands. There, tattoos were an important part of the culture. When a Tahitian girl reached the age of sexual maturity, her buttocks were tattooed black, a tradition that continues among some today. When in mourning, Hawaiians tattooed their tongues with three dots. In Borneo, natives tattooed an eye on the palm of their hands as a spiritual guide that would lead them to the next life.
In 1769, Capt. James Cook landed in Tahiti, where the word "tattoo" originated from tatau, which means to tap the mark into the body. One method island practitioners used for working their designs into the skin was with a razor-edged shell attached to the end of a stick. In New Zealand, Maori leaders signed treaties by drawing precise replicas of their moko, or personal facial tattoo. Such designs are still used to identify the wearer as a member of a certain family and to symbolize a person's achievements in life.
In the 1820s, Europeans began the macabre practice of trading guns for tattooed heads of Maori warriors. To keep up with demand, Maori traders took slaves and commoners captured in battle, tattooed them, killed them, and sold their heads. The practice ended in 1831 when the British government made the importation of human heads illegal.
Tattooing has been practiced in Japan - for beautification, magic, and to mark criminals - since around the 5th century B.C. Repressive laws gave rise to the exquisite Japanese designs known today. Restricted from wearing the ornate kimonos that adorned royalty and the elite, outraged merchants and the lower classes rebelled by wearing tattooed body suits. Covering their torsos with illustrations that began at the neck and extended to the elbow and above the knee, wearers hid the intricate designs beneath their clothing. Viewing the practice as subversive, the government outlawed tattoos in 1870 as it entered a new era of international relationships. As a result, tattooists went underground, where the art flourished as an _expression_ of the wearer's inner longings and impulses.
The yakuza, the Japanese gangster class, embraced the body suits—even more so because they were illegal. Their elaborate designs usually represented an unresolved conflict and also included symbols of character traits the wearer wanted to emulate. A carp represented strength and perseverance. A lion stood for courage. Such tattoos required long periods of pain from the artist's bundles of needles, endured by wearers as a show of allegiance to their beliefs. Today, Japanese tattoo wearers are devoted to the most colorful, complete, and exotic _expression_ of the art.
New York inventor Samuel O'Reilly patented the first electric tattoo machine in 1891, making traditional tools a thing of the past in the West. By the end of the 1920s, American circuses employed more than 300 people with full-body tattoos who could earn an unprecedented $200 per week.
For the next 50 years, tattoos gained a reputation as a mark of American fringe cultures, sailors, and World War II veterans. But today, tattoo connoisseurs take the spotlight at international fairs and conventions with Japanese body suits, Celtic symbols, black tribal motifs, and portraits of favorite celebrities.
"Tattooing is enjoying a big renaissance around the world," says Chuck Eldridge of the Tattoo Archive in Berkeley, California. "Native American women in the Northwest are wearing chin tattoos again, reviving a cultural practice from centuries before the white man arrived. And, in answer to health concerns, artists in the South Pacific are slowly changing to modern equipment."
"The melting pot that is the United States has no rites of passage as a single American culture," says Ken Brown, a tattoo artist in Fredericksburg, Virginia, who finds inspiration in National Geographic photographs. "On some levels, getting a tattoo is like a milestone that marks a certain moment in a person's life." Ken still remembers one customer, an 80-year-old former marine who had always wanted a tattoo but had been too afraid to get one. "He came to me for his first tattoo," Ken says, "and he told me, 'I figure I got five or six good years left in me, and I'm not going out without one.' "
ALL IN ALL FOR THOSE WHO HATE THEM – SORRY