Tattoos: a Brief History

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Tattoos: A Brief History
Angela Ramsey
December 13, 2009
Brett Stamer

Tattoo: in Tahitian, the word “tatau” literally means to mark something. The Samoan word, “tatua” open wound or some other form of small wound. Even though tattoos are gaining in popularity today, history has shown that they have been around for thousands of years. There have been many indicators of early works of art on the body. These include finding mummies with tattoos and crude tattooing instruments. Some of these finds have shown that tattoos have existed since before the time of Christ. These early works of art found on the body and the instruments used are just a few of the points to explore when looking at the history of tattoos. On that note, we will begin our look at the fascinating history of one of the most misunderstood rituals of our time. For starters, we will look at some of the reasons for tattoos. Skin was the first canvas for art. Historically, tattoos were created to beautify, shock, or humiliate people. They were also used for magical protection, to relieve pain, and to proclaim valor. Tattoos have profound and universal psyche origins. They have been related to the sensual, erotic, and emotional aspects of the human psyche. In many cultures, tattoos have been associated with magic, totems, and for an individual to become identified with the spirit of an animal. Animals were, and still are, the most frequent subject matter ( It is believed that having an animal tattoo brought protection from being attacked from the very same animal ( Tattoos were also used as a form of punishment to mark convicts and criminals. “Tax paid” was tattooed on slaves sold to Asia from Ancient Greece and Rome ( Members of the military get tattoos in honor of their country, family, and the branch of the military they belong to. There are other reasons for tattoos. These...
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