THE HISTORY OF TATTOO IS HARD TO RECOUNT EVENTHOUGH IT’S AN ANCESTRAL PRACTICE WE CAN’T PLACE IT’S ORIGIN.
Tattoo: from identitary sign to residual symbole?
Body marking is well spread in africa. With a strong social symbolism it is defined as an identificatory entity, a symbole-sign determinig the social organization. It’s a body of language, a body of beleifes and mythes, a body of representation. In some african tribes the marking is made by laceration of the chik. The scars are identical in the elements of a same tribe and different in an other, they are used as an identitary sign indelebil and always visible because it’son the face. The scars are a code meaningfull as white flag. By the fact they are not harmfull to the aesthetics of the face and in the eye and spirit of the social microcosm as they are integrated. On the contrary they even add beauty to the face. This last one is relative, our way to see it is based on the scale of the past. As we are educated to appreciate only one kind of beauty (which is as cultural as language) we must not be offended by the difference of view of the others. As scars tattoo following the specific rules of each tribe, it was made in a ceremonial context. Every women in age to get married would get tattooed. Essentially a femal atribute, tattoo was composed of designs that could be understood separatly.
They translate coded datas of a social organization, a mythology or an emblematic phenomenon of a precise clan. So it can represent beings, objects, places or events meaningfull for a precise tribe. But in the beginning tattoo as scars was made for identification. Because their was a certain stability in the designs of each tribe. Between the sign symbols of the ayt izdeg and the ayt hdiddou the difference is very clear. This explains the choice of the face as a space of marking, because it’s the most visible part of the body in the human race. It was marked with graphems or signs which was the common denominator of belonging to an organized social group. The design sid of the “eagl claw” like a pitchfork is always shown vertically the three ponts indiferently upward or downward. “Tissilt” or horseshoe is still visible on some women of the ayt seghrouchËn from the eastern high atlas. The more morphologically complexe “asklou” the tree id found in the ayt myyil and the ayt bou zmmour and shows most sophisticated ramification. Later tattoo will be seen as an heretic action and conamned because it modifies the body belonging not of the one who lives in it but to it’s creator.
Every “mutilation” is considered as a reject of a perfect creation. This action can lead those who made it directly to hell. So it will lose it’s identitary function and only keep it’s aesthetic one. From the state of compulsory marking to the one of jewel tattoo will go further the space of the face and go to most itimate places. The graphic signs will keep going on only by the imagination of the people.
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