Tattoos Across Culture

Topics: Culture, United States, Popular culture Pages: 3 (893 words) Published: September 17, 2013
Tattoos Across Culture
Derek Eades
Cultural Anthropology
Caitlyn Placek
07/22/2013
Tattoos Across Culture
Body art and ornamentation have been a defining cultural representation for cultures since the beginning of time. In some cultures, such as South America, China and the United States, tattoos and piercing symbolize the physical and spiritual representation of many groups of people, ranging in meaning and authority. What some represent in one culture could mean the complete opposite it another. The interesting fact that differentiates the cultures is the way they are created, applied, and distinguished among themselves. The Unites States has a fascinating history of body art that began as a sign of vulgarity but has since evolved into less of a stereotype and more of a mainstream display of individuality. “It wasn’t until eighteenth century voyages of Captain James Cook that the practice of tattooing became established in the West.” (Luatmen, p.106) In the Victorian American period, tattoos represented criminality and immorality. They evolved during WWII as soldiers began coming home from the war with them. They were heavy, black outlined tattoos of shapes or images filled with red or blue ink. These became known as “traditional” and one of the most well known artists during this time for traditional tattoos was Norman Collins, also known as “Sailor Jerry.” During the late 1970’s and early 1990’s, “tribal” tattooing became popular. Tribal tattoos originate from cultures of Polynesia and New Zealand, and soon became the new social context for the appeal of tattoos. In today’s American popular culture, tattoo culture is magnified in reality shows such as LA Ink. It is common to see them displayed in an everyday occurrence, and they do not retain the cultural stigma that once plagued them centuries ago in America. In South America, piercings and tattoos have cultural and relational beginning not found in the likes of the United States...

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