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Humans have used tattoos since ancient times to mark their bodies. These permanent designs, sometimes simple, sometimes intricate, always remain distinctive, have been used as amulets, status emblems, professions of love, religious symbols, adornments, and even forms of torture from time to time.
In this article, we would discuss the rich history of tattoos and give you a background of the coming of these markings into relevance.
Therefore, make sure to stick throughout the entire article and travel down the historical lane to trace down the roots of the amazing art.
Starting of the tattoo culture, the Otzi story
The 61 tattoos on the mummified Otzi the Iceman have already been mapped, and yet they still look fresh and very appealing.
Owing to which if all things get considered, it suggests that tattoos can age effectively.
Anthropologists used a novel imaging technology to map the ink on the 5,300-year-old remains, revealing undiscovered tattoos.
Two travellers discovered the Iceman’s remains in a glacier in the Alps in September 1991. Since then, experts have meticulously examined the Iceman to construct a picture of life around 5,300 years ago, at the dawn of the Bronze Age.
It is widely assumed that he suffered from many degenerative diseases before succumbing to a dart wound on the shoulder. His strange horizontal line tattoos, on the other hand, remain a complex puzzle to solve.
The number of tattoo identified in early tests ranged from 49 to 57, later climbing to 59. As the markings remain challenging to notice, the totals varied over time. As per the latest conclusions, the iceman is 5,300 years old, which means his skin was worn and tanned.
Furthermore, the markings were most probably done by rupturing the skin’s surface and rubbing charcoal into it. The contrast between the dark, old skin and the black ink was limited.
Tattooing is significantly more ancient and widespread than just the mummies appear to suggest, according to secondary archaeological evidence such as statuettes with etched designs that are believed to be associated with needles and clay discs carrying pigment.
Egyptian Tattooing culture
Covered in tattoos, mummies from ancient Egypt have been discovered, indicates that the practice goes back to at least 2000 B.C.
According to the views of a large section of historians, the tattoos seen on the coffins were just for aesthetic reasons. Also as per Daniel Fouquet’s research, tattooing might have been used as a medical therapy in ancient Egypt.
Traditions in Ancient Greece and Rome
It has been documented in Greece since the 5th century BCE, according to written texts.
Tattoos mainly were inked on social misfits in Greece and Rome during this period. Criminals, POWs, and slaves would get labeled with their status.
The Athenians tattooing owls on the Samians after conquering them remains an outstanding example of the Ancient Greeks’ tattoo adoption. In their ancient writings, the verb ‘stizein,‘ which means to prick, refers to tattooing.
There also is evidence of warriors and weapons manufacturers having tattoos throughout Ancient Rome. This practice is thought to have continued into the 9th century. In Ancient Rome, slaves were also tattooed to demonstrate they had paid their taxes.
Tattoo culture in India
In recent years, tattoos have become popular among people of all ages. Traditional Indian tattoos and tribal tattoos, on the other hand, have long been popular in India.
At the same time, short henna(mehendi in Hindi) tattoos often get utilized in the country’s traditional festivals. However, permanent skin tattoos have a long history in India, dating back over a century.
The ancient maze-like designs, which can get traced back to 1000 B.C. were discovered on rocks and eventually adopted as permanent tattoos on the arms and other body parts of some tribal tribes in India.
Individuals having permanent body drawings may be found in every nook and cranny in several rural communities across India.
Even ladies who are too preoccupied with the concept of beauty get several tattoos on their bodies, including their faces.
The Apatanis, commonly known as the Tanis, are a nomadic tribe that settled in Arunachal Pradesh. This tribe’s women are known for wearing big nose plugs and having tattoos on their faces. The ladies of this tribe are considered extraordinarily attractive, and as a result, they get kidnapped by their hostile neighbors.
As a consequence of which, tribes turned to the tattoo to avoid kidnappings, believing that it is a weapon that will make them less desirable.
They are imprinted with nasal plugs and tattoos from a young age to protect them, and it has since evolved into a ritual that is still practiced today.
Another North-eastern tribe, the Singpho , who live in Assam and Arunachal, get tattooed married women’s legs from ankle to knee.
Men are also required to get tattoos on their limbs. Unmarried Singpho tribal girls, on the other hand, do not get tattoos.
In some regions of South India, permanent tattoos are known as Pachakutharathu. Even before 1980, the tattoo practice was widespread in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
The Toda tribe of South India used to receive embroidery-like geometric patterns tattooed on their hands, calves, and shins.
Also, the Kutia Kondh tribe of Orissa known as the “people of the spirit world,” tattooed geometric faces tattoos on themselves to identify each other after death.
Even in Central India, the archaic practice of getting tattooed was practiced. It was done to shield women from the gaze of powerful sex predators, therefore the Dhanuks clan of Bihar resorted to de-glamorizing them.
Furthermore, women from the lower class covered exposed areas of their skin with tattoos to signal their lowly position to others of the higher class.
The tattoo is regarded as a bravery emblem by the Munda tribe from Jharkhand as they embarked on significant historical events. To celebrate their victory over the Mughals, Munda men had three straight vertical lines tattooed on their foreheads.
Tattooing was common among India’s western tribes to represent a deep connection to secular and religious devotional topics.
It was also popular among the Rabari women of Kutch for both cosmetic and therapeutic reasons. They tattooed their skin permanently using one needle and liquid pigment. They used to apply a turmeric paste on the tattooed skin to avoid edema.
As a result, these were some of India’s ancient tribes that accepted tattoos centuries ago. Although there are still certain tattoo taboos in some parts of India, the tattoo tradition has gone a long way. It has progressed as an art form in recent years, and people are increasingly more tolerant of tattoos.
American traditional tattoos
Traditional tattoos are the creative manifestation of travel and freedom. When they first appeared upon people in American society in the 1930s, it indicated a renunciation of the American dream and a life outside mainstream society.
With the return of traditional tattoos, these pieces instill their wearers with the same notions from which they arose: a rejection of popular culture and a desire for a distinctive existence.
Classical tattoos, also known as American traditional tattoos, are distinguished by their crisp black outlines, vibrant colours, and minimal shading.
These are important to traditional tattoo style, making it one of the most daring and famous tattoo styles available.
Women, daggers, roses, wolves, skulls, ships, and other elements are frequently depicted in traditional tattoos. Traditional tattoo artists are known for combining the boldness and complexity of a design.
They symbolize a distinct period in humanity’s coherence with tattooing while paying tribute to the tattoo they regarded of esteemed strata.
It wasn’t until World War II that strata of American society banded together in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight against opposites. And, tattoo that had previously only been seen on the most dedicated personnel, thousands of men got introduced to body art while on leave in Hawaii.
During the war, as different kinds of American men assembled at the intersection of Honolulu, there was a tattoo shop managed by a tattooed former Navy man named Sailor Jerry.
Interestingly, the new style he started marking on the soldiers was strongly impacted by the very same ethos that had begun it.
As one of the first Westerners to study with the great Japanese tattoo experts, he merged traditional Japanese skills with the daring of his American ideas.
He evolved his style into what we now call the Traditional style via pure command of the creative techniques.
As tattooing became increasingly acceptable in American culture, this style has evolved into various body art types.
History of Chinese Tattoos
Several mummies with tattooed skin have been discovered in cemeteries across western China’s Xinjiang province. Some mummies date back to 2100 BC, while some are much younger, dating back to roughly 550 BC. Tattooing was regarded as barbarous and severely condemned in ancient Chinese rituals.
Tattoo is also mentioned in ancient Chinese literature with regards to folk heroes and outlaws. It is also thought that condemned offenders were frequently tagged with a tattoo on their faces. The tattoo served as a warning to certain other people that the individual can not be trusted.
Shamrock tattoo culture
The shamrock, which originated in Ireland and has a rich Catholic history, is frequently seen as representing Irish Catholicism and rich history within Ireland.
It has been linked to Saint Patrick, who assisted in spreading Christianity throughout Ireland. As a result of two meanings – religious and Irish pride being intertwined, it is the ideal tattoo for persons of Irish descent who are also Christians.
The shamrock is a three-leafed clover with four leaves that represent enormous luck and fortune. It means Ireland, its past, and the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Some people tend to encompass all of the meanings while getting a shamrock tattoo, while others use one or two. It’s one of those unique tattoos with various purposes that have nothing to do with one another, yet many people discover that more than one of the other meanings makes logical sense for them.
The brilliant green color is frequently utilized to make the image stand out, mimicking the natural colors of the shamrock. At the same time, darker hues, even black, could be used to generate a terrifying pattern.
With the trend of all-black and blue and silver tattoos, some people would avoid using colors entirely to give their shamrock tattoos a distinct aesthetic that looks great on the skin.
All of the symbolism associated with a traditional shamrock can be applied to any shamrock tattoo, regardless of color.
Infusion of tattooing into the modern culture
Tattoos were not widely used or considered normal and acceptable until the mid-twentieth century. Until now, they had been restricted to a small population, primarily those from the entertainment business. People who were tattooed entirely became a big selling point in themselves.
John O’Reilly, the “Tattooed Irishman,” was one of the most well-known tattooed people of the 1800s.
His intricate and comprehensive body art made him a famous attraction in dime museums and the circus, where his tattoos drew and astounded the crowd. Popular tattoo styles evolved and varied over the twentieth century.
The bulk of tattoos were discovered on acrobats or sailors at the turn of the twentieth century. Tattoos were utilized to tell people’s personal stories and also their occupations. A sailor, for example, was likely to get an anchor tattoo.
Tattoos were increasingly widespread and famous in the 1970s. They were no longer reserved for society’s outcasts; suddenly, ordinary people sought them as well. Goodwill symbols and messages were especially prominent during this decade.
They grew even more significant and brighter throughout the decade of unrest that was the 1980s. Big, bold lines, Celtic knots, and colorful theme designs became popular. The music environment, mainly rocks, and roll had an impact on the thriving industry.
Most people would get inked upon being inspired by the patterns of their favorite rock singer. By the 1980s, society had finally caught on, and tattoos were finally socially acceptable.
Like in the 1980s, celebrities had a significant role in the critical tattooing trends of the 1990s. Pamela Anderson’s barbed-wire armband was one of the most memorable and prominent tattoo styles of the 1990s. Some popular designs from this era included tribal patterns, Chinese calligraphy, and sun tattoos.
We at the Robust Story hope that our readers must have broadened their horizons regarding the inception of the tattoo industry and its relevance.
Also, don’t forget to tell your favorite tattoo design in the comment sections below!