Woman Getting Tattooed in the Early 1900
Unlike scarification and branding, the art of tattooing has been the most popular form of body modification in the history of mankind. It is claimed that it has existed long before 12.000 years BC. It is believed that the first tattoo on a human body was witnessed in Egypt. The earliest known examples were found on several female mummies, 20.000 years BC. Since then human beings have being marking their bodies for decades and the purposes remain different. From rituals, traditions to rites of passage, tattoos have different significance depending on the culture and the ideology.
The Middle East: Morocco
The culture of tattoos in the Middle East is a clash that is quite intriguing. While this art is forbidden by religious manuscripts and texts, it is a huge part of the culture since the longest period of time. Despite its so called proscription in the Quran, the art of tattooing has survived for centuries in the Islamic societies of Africa.
In Morocco, traditional forms of tattoos are mostly associated with the indigenous Berber people. They believe that these specific tattoos hold some sort of ‘’ Baraka ‘’; a sacred energy from God that protects against supernatural forces, such as Djins. Most times, these tattoos are placed near facial and body orifices or surfaces that are defenseless against evil conspiracies. For instance, women used to tattoo their feet as a defense mechanism against Djin’s possession from the earth; an interesting way of visualizing the universe and its elements.
Of course it doesn’t stop here, some tattoos go beyond superstitious beliefs and traditionalist views; they stand as a rite of passage. From childhood to adolescence, from bachelorhood to marriage, the flesh witnesses the transition. Tattoos on the chin for example, indicate that the woman is married. The ones between the eyebrows point out to her engagement, and the ones on the arms are for protection against the evil eye; a talisman craved in the skin.
The Land of Immortal Ink: India
India is a land of tales and fortune-telling, its kaleidoscopic is one of the most charming features of the country. It is a plot for diversity and multiculturalism, and therefore a maze of intricate tattoos.
The tradition of tattooing in Central India is known to be barbaric. People believe that tattoos deglamourize the woman’s body, therefore make her safe from predators and sexual abusers. Not only that, but it is also a mark of status. Women from the lower class had to have visible parts of their figure tattooed as a symbol of their social inferiority.
On a different note, there are tribes in India that use the body as a historical record, tattooing important events. As their third victory against the enemy, the Mundas tribe tattooed three straight lines on their foreheads, and still to this day, the tradition is alive.
Women in the Rabari tribes tattoo detailed elaborate designs on their arms, necks and breasts as an expression of their strong faith in magic. The symbols may include divine figures, Gods, holy men and nature.
The Land of the Gods: Greece
14 Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece
For a decade, Greece associated tattoos with immoral members of society. They identified criminals and slaves so they cannot run away. Tattooing was mainly considered as punishment. Plato believed that individuals who are guilty of blasphemy and profanity must be tattooed and banned from the Republic.
More intensely, it was reported that the Greek emperor Theophilus, took revenge on two monks who criticized him in public by tattooing eleven verses of obscene and offensive words on their foreheads.
Due to the disgrace that came with tattoos, the Greeks decided to invest in a tattoo removal business. The tools used were very basic and the reliance on natural herbs and ingredients was high. Honey, salt, lime and other components and the formula is done.
The home of the Pharaohs: Egypt
Mummy’s hand tattooed.
In the creases of its culture, Egypt uses tattoos as a gate to the afterlife. The land is known for being the deputy of tattoo art and is culturally tolerable of it. The first tattoos were witnessed on the leftovers of a female mummy. Amunet, the priestess of the goddess Hathor was found tattooed. Her fingers, knuckles and wrists were covered in lines and dots. It is estimated that the reasons behind the tattooing in Egypt are mainly connected with the divine. It is a tribute to God, as well as a permanent amulet for protection and luck.
Modern Age Tattoos:
As been said, tattoos have been around since decades. The evolution of the art is in a continuous motion. From tribal symbols, facial design to Picasso’s style, tattoos are endless.
In some societies, they are considered to be a sign of rebellion and resistance; however, they shatter beauty standards and leave space for self-expression and freedom. People tattoo their skin to unchain themselves from the norms, to make a point or to tell a story. The art of tattooing is one of the most beautiful forms of poetry. It is more than just skin deep, it is feelings, memories and hopes.
Raw Portraits of Human Marvels:
Inked woman in the 1900
Inked Moroccan Woman
Wang Od (tattoo artist in Kalinga, Philippines)
Canadian Zombie Boy: Rick Genest
Grace Neutral: Tattoo Artist
The body is a canvas and tattoos give it a charm, make art out of it and story tell us what the eyes have always been hiding.