Tattoos have been around for thousands of years. The earliest tattoos recorded date back to Egypt, during the time of constructing the pyramids; this then caused the art of tattooing to spread to countries such as Greece, Arabia and China in 2o00 BC.
However it is believed that tattooing has been around for much longer than that. It has been said that ancient cave men would cut themselves and use burned wood and coal to darken the skin permanently to make tribal markings. It is also believed that this was one of the very first forms of art. Primitive men would tattoo themselves for spiritual reasons; it would align them with the gods and increase their virility and fertility.
Primitive people tattooed their children as a rite of passage into adulthood to see if they could tolerate the pain. If he could take the pain, then he was good enough to fight in battle, and if she could take the pain, she could bare childbirth.
They would tattoo totem animals such as snakes and butterflies for they believed the animal could act as a spirit guide throughout their life, and they would adopt some of the qualities of the animal
Inking used to be considered funeral art; ancient Egyptians and Libyans would tattoo dead bodies as a way of allowing their spirit to pass on over. Today tattoos could still be considered to be used as funeral art as many people make memorials for people via tattoos; names or symbols to represent lost loved ones and even incorporating a loved ones ashes into the ink of the tattoo.
It became a form of identity in history. Britons would often tattoo their family crests on their bodies and the vikings for example tattooed themselves according to their tribes and clans. Women in Borneo would tattoo their particular skills on their bodies so men could see how worthy of marriage they were. The Chinese used to tattoo people to brand them as criminals or those who have done wrong. Aristocrats in other countries however used it to show their social status. Today people still use the art form as a way of representing who they are.
They would puncture every drop of ink onto skin by hand, which made it a long and pain staking procedure which is why it was not very popular until modern technology.
Before the noughties, those who had tattoos were assumed to be criminals or part of the navy, and it was primarily men who possessed them. Tattoos have evolved in the modern era to become fashion statements, forms of expression, a physical representation of the bond between two people, or people and their pets or their children. They’ve become memories and symbols of someone’s aspirations for the future. Kinda weird to think it all stemmed from cave men carving holes in themselves…
Modern technology has transformed tattoos so much that they can now be removed by lasers. Some of the most beautiful pieces of art have been canvassed on skin. Let’s hear it for this amazing phenomenon and be grateful that we are have such easy access for it.
To the future of tattoos!