Page One History of Tattoos Regina Perkins English 101 April 23, 2010 Annie Mak Page Two Introduction: Tattoos are so taboo yet so interesting you get different reactions from different people. But one thing we all agree on when it comes to getting a tattoo / body art, the pain you endure makes the story of the tattoo that more interesting. Tattoos are a beautiful thing and to be able to express yourself though body art is also a sign of bravery. The history of tattooing, comes with many stories through out history. And amazingly tattooing has survived the test of times. Thesis Statement:
While tattooing is negative and unacceptable among some people, tattoos are away of self expression. Page Three . Tattoos have come a long way in the world throughout history. They have been used for various reasons in the world. As time changed so did the use of tattoos. In today’s world most people get tattoos just because and some for purposes. The styles used for tattoos today have no intentional meaning. In history every tattoo had a meaning and or purpose. The word tattoo is said to have two major derivations- from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ which means striking something and the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means ‘to mark something.
The history of tattoo began over 5000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear them. Tattoos are created by inserting colored materials beneath the skins surface. The first tattoos probably were created by accident. Someone had a small wound, and rubbed it with a hand that was dirty with soot and ashes from the fire. Once the wound had healed, they saw that a mark stayed permanently. Despite the social sciences’ growing fascination with tattooing, and the immense popularity of tattoos themselves, the practice has not left much of a historical record. (http://www. designboom. om/history/tattoo_history. html) Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment. Joann Fletcher, research fellow in the department of archaeology at the University of York in Britain, describes the history of tattoos and their cultural significance to people around the world, from the famous ” Iceman,” a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy, to today’s Maori.
Page Four In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B. C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old. (http://www. smithsonianmag. com/history-archaeology/10023606. html) It is arguably claimed that tattooing has existed since 12,000 years BC.
The purpose of tattooing has varies from culture to culture and its place on the time line. But there are commonalties that prevail form the earliest known tattoos to those being done on college students on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. Tattoos have always had an important role in ritual and tradition. In Borneo, women tattooed their symbols on their forearm indicating their particular skill. If a woman wore a symbol indicating she was a skilled weaver, her status as prime marriageable material was increased. Tattoos around the wrist and fingers were believed to ward away illness.
Throughout history tattoos have signified membership in a clan or society. Even today groups like the Hells Angels tattoo their particular group symbol. TV and movies have used the idea of a tattoo indication membership in a secret society numerous times. It has been believed that the wearer of an image calls the spirit of that image. The ferocity of a tiger would belong to the tattooed Page Five person. That tradition holds true today shown by the proliferation of images of tigers, snakes, and bird of prey.
In recorded history, the earliest tattoos can be found in Egypt during the time of the construction of the great pyramids (It undoubtedly started much earlier). When the Egyptians expanded their empire, the art of tattooing spread as well. The civilizations of Crete, Greece, Persia, and Arabia picked up and expanded the art form. Around 2000 BC tattooing spread to China. The Greeks used tattooing for communication among spies. Markings identified the spies and showed their rank. Romans marked criminals and slaves. This practice is still carried on today.
The Ainu people of western Asia used tattooing to show social status. Girls coming of age were marked to announce their place in society, as were the married women. The Ainu are noted for introducing tattoos to Japan where it developed into a religious and ceremonial rite. In Borneo, women were the tattooists. It was a cultural tradition. They produced designs indicating the owners station in life and the tribe he belonged to. Kayan women had delicate arm tattoos which looked like lacy gloves. Dayak warriors who had “taken a head” had tattoos on their hands.
The tattoos garnered respect and assured the owners status for life. Polynesians developed tattoos to mark tribal communities, families, and rank. They brought their art to New Zealand and developed a facial style of tattooing called Moko which is still being used today. There is evidence that the Mayan, Incas, and Aztecs used tattooing in the rituals. Even the isolated tribes in Alaska practiced tattooing, their style indicating it was learned from the Ainu. Page Six While tattooing diminished in the west, it thrived in Japan. At first, tattoos were used to mark criminals.
First offenses were marked with a line across the forehead. A second crime was marked by adding an arch. A third offense was marked by another line. Together these marks formed the Japanese character for “dog”. It appears this was the original “Three strikes your out” law. In time, the Japanese escalated the tattoo to an aesthetic art form. The Japanese body suit originated around 1700 as a reaction to strict laws concerning conspicuous consumption. Only royalty were allowed to wear ornate clothing. As a result of this, the middle class adorned themselves with elaborate full body tattoos.
A highly tattooed person wearing only a loin cloth was considered well dressed, but only in the privacy of their own home. William Dampher is responsible for re-introducing tattooing to the west. He was a sailor and explorer who traveled the South Seas. In 1691 he brought to London a heavily tattooed Polynesian named Prince Giolo, Known as the Painted Prince. He was put on exhibition , a money making attraction, and became the rage of London. It had been 600 years since tattoos had been seen in Europe and it would be another 100 years before tattooing would make it mark in the West. (http://www. owerverbs. com/tattooyou/history. htm) Page Seven An amazing variety of tattooing methods developed in different cultures. In North and South America, many Indian tribes routinely tattooed the body or the face by simple pricking, and some tribes in California introduced color into scratches. Many tribes of the Arctic and Subarctic, mostly Inuit, and some people in eastern Siberia, made needle punctures through which a thread coated with pigment (usually soot) was drawn underneath the skin. In Polynesia and Micronesia, pigment was pricked into the skin by tapping on a tool shaped like a small rake.
The Maori people of New Zealand, who are world famous for their tattooing, applied their wood carving technique to tattooing. In the moko style of Maori tattooing, shallow, colored grooves in distinctive, complex designs were produced on the face and buttocks by striking a small bone-cutting tool (used for shaping wood) into the skin. After the Europeans arrived in the 1700s, the Maori began using the metal that settlers brought for a more conventional style of puncture tattooing. (https://www. msu. edu/~krcmari1/individual/history. tml) Tattoos have been around for quite some time now. They have around the world the world and back. Tattoos have filled each and every one of their intended purpose and carry a strong legacy behind them. They have a strong history and a even stronger future. Most people love their tattoos. Body art is no longer considered for the social outcast like bikers, criminals and sailors. Tattoos are increasingly common for people of all ages. Tattooing is becoming more acceptable by people in businesses, churches and other social circles.
Even senior citizens are Page Eight acceptable of tattooing. People are realizing that tattoo’s, does not mean a person is a thug, or outcast because they bare a tattoo. Tattoos are now becoming apart of social conversations. People get tattoos for different reasons. Most tattoos have a story behind them. Some funny, some sentimental and some for friendships and self-love, but for what ever the reason tattoos are like a hallmark card, but only you say it with your own words.
A person that loves to tattoo their body they think of their body as a canvas and with the help of a good tattoo artist you can invent your masterpiece, from a small spot or your entire body. A tattoo artist can create a body theme and turn into a Picasso, making your body come a love with colorful pieces of artwork displayed as if it were the work of Leonardo Divinci. Tattoos, are apart of history, but like a lot of thing it has taken centuries for the tattoos to be socially accepted but in today’s society our young adults and teenagers have put there constitutional rights into effect when it comes to their tattoos.
Tattoos can be worn discreetly or they can be worn openly, you would be so surprised to how open the blue-collar world has accepted the art of tattoos. However the white-collar world is still in the taboo world when it comes to wearing tattoos openly. In some families tattoos are on every person in the house, except for the small children and even they can’t wait until they are old enough to get their body art started. The family stories behind their tattoos are always interesting. In the tattoo world you don’t understand it unless you are a part of it, tattoos are more than just ink marks, it is a part of one’s life.
Page Nine Conclusion: People have a right to do as they please with their bodies and if tattooing is the way they choose to express themselves, that is their right and we as a people have no right to say what is wrong or right about the way another person chooses to express themselves. Live and let Live and the world will be a better place. Tattoos are awesome. Page Ten Work Cited Page * http://www. designboom. com/history/tattoo_history. html * http://www. smithsonianmag. com/history-archaeology/10023606. html * http://www. powerverbs. com/tattooyou/history. htm * https://www. msu. edu/~krcmari1/individual/history. html
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