THE HISTORY OF TATTOO IS HARD TO RECOUNT EVENTHOUGH IT’S AN ANCESTRAL PRACTICE WE CAN’T PLACE IT’S ORIGIN.
So it’s realy difficult to place the beginning of this practice. But wherever tattoo appeared it contributed to marginalize people. It was used to make a difference between social classes, the passage to one state to an other, identify slaves and criminals…
This is in those so called primitives people, more precisly in polynesia that tattoo has developed the most. It was generally the mark of membership to a high social rank. For exemple to the Areois society was divided into classes that the placement of the tattoo on the body indentifies. Each classe would taking the name of the part tattooed. In this way the highest classe was called “tattooed leg”, the second “tattooed arms” and so on…
The marquise islands
Tatoos made their are mainly aesthetical. Every body part cab be tattooed except for the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot. The more the designs are numerous, rich the more the person who waer them is aged and from a high social rank. At the end of the XIXth century a person whom the top of the hand wasn’t tattooed could not use the common marmite. In the same way a man could not get married if he wasn’t tattooed before. That’s the reason why tattoos were made during the puberty.
During the ceremony women were not allowed. Ttattoo was made by a priest, the future tattooed was encouraged by the songs of the audience to bear the pain. The young man newly tattooed would go out of his house only after the complet healing of the tattoo.
Concerning the face only chiefs could cover it totally whereas the others memebers only adorned traces on defined body parts. A nice tattoo to them was a real pride because it was very painfull and needed numerous sessions.
the instrument to tattoo was usally a bamboo branch on wich were different sharp object as: bird’s bones, mother-of-pearl, fishes tooth…the tattooer would beat that tool with a hammer. the color were made with bancoulier’s nuts hases and then mixed with water.
Ttattoo in new-zeland is inseparable from mariage. So a girl had to be beautifull by tattooing her face; in the same way for men tattoo was an element of seduction. Maoris are using sharp elements and not stings. Tattoos were made at the age og 20. Those who refused it were considered as effeminate, coward and unworthy to be part of the community.
Moaris were famous for their face tattoo callede “moko”, it’s a mark of nobility and also a claim of victory for the one who wears it.
Since the Vth century tattoo was used in japan as a punishment for the criminals, like cutting a hand or a ear. The goal was to mark the individual for life.
In the XVIIth century prostitutes tattooed themselves their arms, back of their hands, chests and faces. This is for this double use(criminal and prostitutes) that tattoo has a bad reputation in japan. And it’s also why it is dispised by the high society.
Ttattoo reached it’s peak in japan between the XVIIth century and the XIXth century because of a chinese novel of the XIVth century whom heroes where civered with tattoos. Then men who had a hard work (firemen,carpenters..) decided to get tattooed and they adorned symblizing animals known for their virility such as the lion, tigers…
In 1872, the emperor Matsushito forbid offically the practice of tattooing; it will last only a few years.
Tattoo’s designs are essentially figurative ones such as flowers (chrysantemum), landscapes, animals (fish,cat..)
the pigment used are of course indian ink and vermillion. Stings used are iron made and they are fixed to a bone by silk threads.
In the japanese tribe of the “ainous” tatoo exists since prehistory but only on femal faces. This tradition still exists but tattoo is made only on women and around the mouth and the back of the hand. it was done in three times befaure marriage:
– between 12 and 13 years old the tattooer lances the hands and let the pigment penetrates.
– at 15 the tattooer enlarge the first tattoos.
– at 18 the tattooer adds other tattoos on the arms, shoulders, back of the hand to the elbow.
the goal of tatto to the ainous is not well known.
It’s in japan that was invented the “negative tattoo”. it’s a tattoo made with rice powder only visible in special occasion (excitment, warm bath, alcohol). suddenly the tattoo gets red. the japanese call it “kakushibori” wich means “the hidden tattoo”
Tattoo was also a ritual which marks the entrance in a community like the “yakusas”. Yakusas represents the biggest mafia in japan. the new memeber has to get tattooed. Yakusas tattoo are known to have a great artistic richness, they are true work of art that can cover the whole body.
The history of tattoo in china is quite new. In 1986 tattooed corps of 3000 years of age were found in the north west of china. It is proved that on the contrary of other culture where tattoo was sacred and noble it was very popular in china. IT was also a punishment. chinese tattoo is not very studied a great work is to be done.
In egypt the practice of tattoo is very old, tattooed mumy from 2000 BC were found. Some hypothesis said that tattoo could be aesthetical, magical, supersticious or even medical.
For exemple if a women whom a child is dead is pregnant again she gets her baby tattooed a dot on the forehead and an other one on the external face of the left hankle. Thos two points would be a symbolic “roadbloc” against death.
But it can also be commemorative like for the coptes (christians egyptians). On the arm of each copte is tattoed is pilgrimage to jerusalem. In the same way they adorn a cross on the internal face of the wrist.
In the valley of cairo tattoo is exclusively medical. Crosses on the forehead and a bird tattooed between the external side the eye is a remedy against headack.
the tattooer uses stings and the pigment is ashes mixed with women’s milk.
Figurative tattoo was quite common too its goal mainly religious or supersticious. For exemple fish symbolises fertility, luck, protection.
Concerning geometrical signs, the dot is magical, the circle limits ill a part or a part to protect.
tatoo in egypt is mainly done by famers(christians or muslims).
It is suppose dthat tattoo exists in north africa since 3000 BC it was mainly ritual. Even if this practice is very old Islam condamn it, those who adorn it and thos who make it are considered as allied of satan. Never the less dispite the religious interdiction tattoo is well spread. to ward of there’s an ephemeral tattoo done with henna that women wear on the hands and feet.
In algeria tattoo is deep blue representing crosses, lines, dots. The nort african tattoo is not tribal but is used to differenciates social classes.
In africa tattoois essencially tribal made by scarification. its an adornment and a “clothes”.
In the sarakole peole of west africa girl’s gum are tattooed by the age of 13.
To the blacks tattoo enabled to prove one’s identity by a tribal mark and to differenciates from the slaves that were not marked.
Tattooing and scarification are an initiation rite. They show that one belongs to a community or the evolution to a new “level” (froma child to a teenager and from a teenager to an adult).
all those agression fortify the personality and make the vital forces grow.
Tattoo in america would have come from asia between 5000 and 1500 BC. It was well spread above all in the indians nations.
It seems that 2000 years before christ tatoo and body painting have replaced clothing. Further more it showed the belonging to a tribe, social rank, act of war and hunting acomplished.
Tattoo is the privilege of the priests, they adorned as tattoo spiritual and religious scene.
tatoo is more replaced by scarification wich proved courage because it’s realy painfull.
THE Sioux during the dance of the sun proved their courage by getting tattooed.
In 1924 in siberia a corps of 520 BC were found one of them had an arn entirely tattooed with fanstastical figures such as a creautr mixing tiger; dear, eagl and snake. on his right leg he had a fish.
The romans used tattoo to mark the soldiers of the roman legion. the design was an eagl and the name of the general.
In greece the slaves would wear the name of their master.
But the history of tattoo in europe is blury because in the middle-ages the church forbid it considering its a mark of the demon. Tattoo was forbidd offically by the pope adrian the first in 787. this didn’t prevent a renewal of tattoo in the XVIIIth century when some sailor will bring it back as a souvenir on their own skin…