Age Old Body Art – The Origins of Tattoos

Whether temporary or permanent, tattoos have been a part of history since ancient times.Certain religions orders and cultures have even found tattoos to be an integral part of their customs and many of the designs displayed showcase the individuals ranking and placement in these groups.

What is a Tattoo?

A tattoo is a permanent design that is embedded into the skin with a needle. Because it can be difficult to remove, you should do your homework before deciding the location and style of tattoo that you want to adorn your body. Body art has reached new heights of popularity and also come in a temporary form. Since the removables can last between three and five days, you can change the location and design to fit your mood or outfit. The temporary tattoos have also made a recent splash on the fashion runways with designers and stars such as Chanel and Beyonce displaying their own brand of styles.

What are the Origins?

Mummified remains recently dug up showcased bodies that were decorated with tattoos. A well-preserved body of an iceman from Siberia had close to 57 tattoos displayed across his body. An Egyptian priestess from 2160 B.C. also had her body adorned in tattoos across her naval, legs and arms. The art of tattooing was considered a pagan ritual during biblical days of the Old Testament.

It was believed that Moses favored this form of artistic display as he thought it a way to celebrate his people’s salvation from slavery.  Skin illustrations in ancient times were worn for a variety of reasons such as to indicate some critical rite of passage, or to mark the wearer’s status and strength in cultural society. It also represented spiritual devotion, was used as a talisman, or protection or for love. Sadly permanent inks were also used to brand into slavery; such was the method used to mark Jews during the Holocaust.

How are They Applied?

Decorating your body permanently can be a frightening process for individuals who are afraid of needles. Other fearless rebels live tattooyou as their personal mottos. In ancient times, it was believed that a tribal expert would cut the design into a person’s skin and rub the wound with ink, ashes or other colored agents. Sharpened sticks, needles and animal bones were also utilized in the past by hand tapping the designs using these tools. Japan is still using the manual method of tattooing by inserting the ink into an individual’s skin through steel needles or bamboo sticks.

The temporary version can either be applied using stickers or through a form of henna application done by a tattoo artist.

Discussion of Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons to getting a tattoo today; many are applied for cosmetic reasons. Others want to adorn their body with the designs as a form of self-expression–a representation of who they are.

Many corporations and businesses frown on tattoos for their employees, making the temporary versions ideal for weekends and evenings. Used needles can spread illnesses, diseases and infections, so you need to choose your tattoo artist wisely.

Getting a tattoo is fun way to express your freedom and showcase your creativity. Whether you go with the permanent variety or try the temporary version, you can allow your body to be your blank canvas.   

Photo Credit: Morgue File