‘Tatu’ to ‘Tattoo’: A Brief History of Tattooing

  1. artistic designs

While tattoos are much more mainstream than they have been in the past, the meaning and method of tattooing has changed significantly throughout time. Tattoos are commonly thought of as a form of artistic expression, they have been used to identify soldiers, social rankings, and as a symbol of rebellion. In order to help you understand how tattooing got to where it is today, this article will look at a brief history of tattooing.

Oldest Record of Tattoos…
Before the discovery of the Iceman, the oldest tattoos were dated back to 2,000 B.C. However, the Iceman dates back much earlier. The remains were found in 1991 near the Italian-Austrian border, which was not just a significant discovery for scientists, but for the tattoo community as well. Otzi’s tattoos consisted of a distribution of dots in areas that correspond with strain-induced degeneration. This led researchers to assume they were applied to alleviate joint pain, rather than for the purpose of showing artistic designs.

Ancient Egypt
Aside from Otzi, Ancient Egyptians hold the record for earliest recorded tattoos. Egyptian funerary figures of female dancers featured the same dot-and-dash tattoos that were found on female mummies dating back to 2,000 B.C. Additionally, Egyptian mummies were later found to have tattoos representing Bes, the god of fertility and revelry.

Ancient Rome
Initially, tattoos were banned in Ancient Rome. Romans believed in the purity of the human body and only used tattoos to brand criminals, not for displaying artistic designs.. However, attitudes towards tattoos changed over time. Romans soon began to admire those who wore tattoos as badges of honor, and adopted the same concept.

Japan
Since the 5th century B.C., tattooing has been used in Japan for beautification, magic, and to label criminals. Since merchants and lower class citizens were forbidden to wear the ornate kimonos that royalty wore, they rebelled by displaying tattooed body suits. In doing this, the intricate Japanese designs known today were formed.

Europe
Warriors identified themselves with the mark of the Jerusalem cross during the Crusades of the 11th and 12th centuries. They did this so that if they died in battle, they could be given a proper Christian burial.

European sailors encountered inhabitants of the South and Central Pacific Islands in the 18th century. There, they experiences the tattoo-immersed culture of the natives. In 1769, Capt. James Cook traveled to Tahiti, where he learned the word “tattoo” was derived from the word “tatau”, which means to mark something.

America
In 1891. Samuel O’Reilly patented the first electric tattoo machine in New York City. While this meant traditional tools were no longer needed, tattoos still remained unfavorable. However, people with full-body tattoos could earn $200 per week by joining an American Circus. For the next several years, tattoos became more popular, mainly consisting among sailors, soldiers, and rebels.

Tattoo art has always had an important role in traditions among cultures around the world. While the meaning behind tattoos may have changed, tattoo artists throughout the 21,000 tattoo shops in the United States enjoy giving customers unique artistic designs that will remain a part of them forever.