All about the History of Tattoos


tattoo history pic of tribal man

Summary:  A tattoo has always been regarded as an expression of art. During ancient times the tattoo was an essential part of all rituals of passage amongst several tribes all over the world.


The art of tattooing has been part of our society since times immemorial. It can be seen among native and ancient cultures across the world. The tattoos were used to identify the law breakers in East Asian cultures. Similarly, the Romans tattooed criminals, slaves and crooks. Ancient cultures also used tattoo designs for developing group authentication. Such types of tags were helpful during the course of any conflict for differentiating enemies from friends. Many of the tattoo designs also acted as a reassurance that one could be reunited with friends and family in heaven, after one had expired. Also, traditionally the tattoo designs were supposed to bring luck to the user.


Meaning of Tattoo in Various Civilizations

The Hawaiian culture is famous for its tattoos. It does the traditional tattooing art not only for the purpose of ornamentation and individualism but even for safeguarding one’s spirit, well-being and health. The Polynesians consider tattooing as spiritual. Polynesian tattoos are regarded as being the most complex and detailed. Sometimes they cover their entire body with tattoos. The tattoos are considered to be sacred by Polynesians and this craft is passed on from the father to his son. The Maori tribes of New Zealand also use the tattoos to depict tribal affiliation, ancestry and societal status. They are known for their full face tattooing. The Maori people tattoo by chiseling and carving the skin.


There is no doubt that tattoos have also played a vital role in ancient traditions and rituals. However, the motivation to have a tattoo may also stem from several reasons. The society’s elite like the royals and czars had tattoos for distinguishing themselves from the common folks. Before the seventies, the American society thought that the tattoos symbolized bikers, sailors, carnival ride operator, freaks, and so on. However, after the seventies, the tattoo art took on new significance as the American society underwent several cultural changes. Today there are different artists using different inks, based on their method of tattooing as well as the preference of their clients.


Tattooing is also called ancient ink as it is performed using various types of inks. Tattoos that have been made by making use of good quality tattoo ink are not just long lasting, but they also provide better definition. Inks are classified in two main categories. The first variety uses an analogous base and mixes diverse pigments, providing easy merging with skin. The second variety consists of diverse bases. More and more people are resorting to tattooing for sentimental reasons. It may be to express or symbolize, to memorize some event, time or transition in their lives, or as an expression of romance.