Tattoos: a History of Skin and Ink

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Tattoos: A History of Skin and Ink
Ralph Bianco
Axia College

What is a tattoo? A tattoo is a design made or a permanent mark within the skin made by the operation of picking while leaving behind an ineffaceable ingraining of coloring into the punctures or by scar rising. That would be the definition, however, a tattoo, to many, has a more personal, abstract meaning. To many people tattoos would symbolize religion, status, experiences, art and individuality. Just as fascinating, is the history of the tattoo itself. Tattoos come in many different styles, designs, colors, sizes and shapes. Purchased on a whim or sought as art, hidden or flaunted, generation after generation, the tattoo has left its mark (Krakow). From its place on the time line, person to person, from culture to culture, the purpose of tattooing varies. Though tattoos may seem as a sort of modern-day cultural phenomenon, history will show that tattoos have been a part of many cultures for many years. Tattooing, noted as (“to mark something” in Tahitian) has been in existence since the year 12,000 B.C. (Demello). Borneo women tattooed their forearms with symbols indicating their particular skill, noted in A Brief History of Tattoos. A woman’s prime marriageable status would increase if she were to bear an indicating symbol that weaving is a trade she is skilled in. Believed to ward away bad spirits and illness, tribes tattooed their wrists and fingers. The earliest tattoos in recorded history could be supported in Egypt around the construction era of the pyramids. As Egypt’s empire developed, the tattooing art would broaden as well. Civilized life in areas such as Arabia, Greece and Crete not only picked up the art form but expanded it (A Brief History of Tattoos). To identify rank and communicate, the spies of Greek used tattoos. With tattoos, the Romans marked slaves and criminals, which are still practiced today. Tattooing had extended to China around 2000 B.C. (Demello). A belief in...
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