The Past, Present and Future of Tattooing

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The Past, Present and Future of Tattooing

Have one ever known that many Jews believe a tattoo will keep them from being buried in a Jewish cemetery? This belief is wrong. However, it is stated in the Jewish Law that you are forbidden to get a tattoo. Some employers can restrict their employees from showing their tattoos by strict dress codes or uniform requirements? This is true, in many law suit court cases; the judges have found these on-the-job requirements to be nondiscriminatory. However while they may be forbidden for most religions or not accepted at some employers, many believe that tattoos express individuality or remembrance of a loved one. In today’s society, it now seems acceptable for someone to mark their body with something that is meaningful. The tattoos can range from declarations of love to marking a moment in their lives to remember forever. Just about everywhere one goes a tattoo can be spotted at least one person who has a tattoo. The person could be a business woman with a small ladybug on her wrist or a business man with a military symbol around his arm. Whatever the case maybe, people of all ages and different backgrounds have lately been getting tattoos. A question one may ask in order to understand this newfound fascination with tattoos is why people get them. To answer this question one must know its history so today let’s take that journey into this fascinating world.

First let’s understand where the word “Tattoo” is originated from. The Tahiti traveler’s website states that it is Tahitian term, “Tatu” or “Tatau” means mark or strike. The word is defined in the dictionary as being a permanent marking made by inserting ink into the layers of skin to change the pigment for decorative or other reasons. The process of this procedure involves pricking and indelible the pigment. This history goes back before Christ (Taylor, 1998) and is just as fascinating as one in itself. Tattoos began to spread throughout China as early as the Yayoi Period: 300 B.C. – A.D. 300 (Hong, 2005). Although tattoos had been previously recorded it was not until the Kofun Period: A.D. 300-600 that the association of the meaning and practices of tattoos began to emerge. During this period, only men (both young and old) were allowed to get tattoos which represented many different things. The Wa (Japanese) men were known to have decorated their bodies to keep away large mammals and waterfowl while diving into the water for fish and shells. Many of their ruler’s sons designed their bodies to avoid getting attacked by serpents and dragons (Goodrich 1951:10). The designs on these various cultures began to differ to represent their position and size which varied according to their ranking. The most honorable and respected men showed memorials to lost love ones with tattoos.

However, between the 2160 BC – 1994 BC era it was known that men were not the only ones known to display tattoos. The priestess of the goddess hathor (Amunet) displayed geometric patterns which were restricted to only women who were associated with ritualistic practices or therapeutic roles but it, was also assumed that such markings were that of prostitutes and meant to protect the women against sexually transmitted diseases.(Lineberry, 2007) However, some say that tattoos was used to symbolize fertility of the earth and of womankind, preservation of life after death, the sacredness of chieftainship and other cultural factors. Marriage tattoos were particularly popular to ensure that they could find your lawful spouse or spouses in the afterlife, even if they have passed 'through the veil,' many years apart. The Ancient Ainu believed that a woman who marries without first being tattooed, in the proper manner, commits a sin and when she dies; she will go straight to God.

In the late 1600s’ as it became easier for the average person to get a tattoo the upper class turned away from it. They specifically...
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