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Tattoos – A History of This Taboo Art

Man had always used different ways to express his feelings and inner personality. This expression is pretty much visible in the way a person dresses and the things he or she wears. For instance, most people like wearing military t-shirts because they symbolize courage, bravery and strength. Although a military t-shirt is something of a generic nature, there are many personalized ways of showing off individuality and personality. One of the ways that have been around for ages is the art of tattooing.

For a long time, it was believed that tattoos emerged from Egypt as mummies of several pharaohs indicated the marks of tattoos in several places. However, a 5300 year old mummy of Otzi the Iceman also had tattoo markings on his body. This proves that tattooing has been an art since the prehistoric era. The purpose behind those tattoos remains uncertain.

Another prehistoric body discovered in Russia shows a significant amount of body prints depicting magical and mythical creatures and real animals. A number of such mummies were later discovered from the same place, all of which had a good amount of such tattoos around their bodies.

As the Egyptian empire spread wider, the tattoo tradition and art started to go further and further. However, in India, henna was already used to make markings on the body. These marking were just for beautification purpose. In Greek, tattooing is said to have been used for a real purpose for the first time as spies were marked with identification marks and secret codes. On the other hand, Romans began to use tattoos to mark their prisoners. This practice is still used in Rome and many other places.

In Samoan Islands, tattoo is also a part of ancient tradition. It symbolizes the social standing of a person. The chief of the tribe is usually the one with heaviest tattooing. A proper ceremony is held in which younger chiefs get their tattoos to indicate that they have reached puberty. The marks are proudly carried as a symbol of their dedication to the culture.

Tattooing is considered a very important part of New Zealand’s culture. Moko art is a very prime example of the skills and precision they have gained along with time. People used carving techniques for this purpose.

The Indonesian Borneo tribe still uses its age old technique of making marks on the face and body. Their designs are very popular in the western world and many people prefer the tribal art designs which actually are of Borneo origin. Like Borneo, there are several tribes in Africa which have a tradition of body art and design. However, because of their dark skin color, these people prefer scarification rather than paint.

This ancient art is said to have entered the Modern western world along with the sailors and prisoners brought to England by Captain Cook. It is hard to tell whether it spread to America through the British or from Latin America. The very first tattoo shop was opened n New York in 1846, and later, the electric tattooing machine took over. Since then, it is constantly gained popularity in those countries.