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Tattoo History Essay

1875 words - 8 pages

Society has developed many different ways to identify who a person is or where they may come from. Some distinctions are by a skin color, or by the way a person speaks. Many years ago and even to this day tattoos have been distinguishing who a person is. Tattoos have been put onto both sexes to decorate, enhance, and modify the skin given to us at birth. One site said that "tattoos are self-motivated expressions of personal freedom and uniqueness" (web page). Each tribe uses tattoos for different reasons, some use them as a marking of status, where a person fits in their culture. Dayak tribes believed that tattoos symbolized an important function after death, this belief was also known in many American Indian tribes. The Chinese culture uses tattoos to distinguish a person who has been found guilty of a severe crime. In native North America tattooing was frequently associated with religious and magical practices. As tattooing became more popular it landed in England where the first royal family member became tattooed. It is said that skin ornamentation is as ancient as Man himself. The oldest tattooed body known to date is that of Bronze Age man who died over 5000 years ago. He was found frozen intact in an Italian glazier. During examination he was found to have both arms, legs, and torso, covered with elaborate tattoos representing mythical creatures. Also reported at 15000 BC ice age rock carvings show tattooed figures, and 4200 BC Egyptian mummies wore tattoos. The process of being tattooed as a man is much unlike that of a women. Each tribe completes the process in different and unusual ways. Kayans usually began the tattooing process during boyhood. If a man takes the head of an enemy he can have the backs of his hands and fingers covered with tattoos (Hose). Samoa tribes take several months to complete the tattooing process, it is a very strict ritual. The sequence of tattooing begins with the waist and progressing down to the knees, only working with the area the size of a hand each week. To a Soman man, this part of his life is very crucial, it is when he enters manhood. For the Ojibwa, tattoos were used for therapeutic reasons. They marked temples, forehead, and cheeks of those suffering from headaches and toothaches. In this tribe the ceremony was accompanied by songs and dances. Tattooing for the Apiaca Indian boys began at age 14 and consisted of a face tattoo. This meant a rectangle around the mouth, indicating that the boy could eat human flesh. In many cases the women's tattoo process was made known to much extent. Kayan women are tattooed in complicated serial designs over the whole forearm, the backs of hands, and over the whole area of the thighs. This process that causes much pain and is a serious operation. To a Kayan girl this also has an elaborate ceremonial attached to this form of body ornamentation. The tattooing process can last as long as four years, beginning with her fingers and...

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