History of Tattoos – Concept and Origin

A tattoo is an art form and a form of body modification where a pigment is inserted into a skin to change its colour permanently. It is a very old tradition and today it is more popular and socially accepted than ever.

History of tattoos

We can see tattoos as an act of rebellion against society, but that is only one of the many reasons why people have worn and still wear tattoos. Tattoos find ways on human skin from purely incidental to necessary and salutary.

Tattoo Facts

Tattoos appeared in different parts of the world almost independently and simultaneously. Different styles and techniques were developed in these places and today they mix and mingle to the delight of all tattoo enthusiasts and artists. Learn more interesting facts about tattoos and tattooing.

Tattoo creation process

The tattoo does a strange thing in combination with a human body to remain on the skin for a very long time. For those who want text photos but don’t like the “too long” part, there are alternatives that take shorter and are just as beautiful.

History of Tattoos - Concept and Origin

Brief history of tattoos

One proof that prehistoric people knew and practiced tattooing is tools discovered in France, Portugal and Scandinavia. These tools are at least 12,000 years old and were used for tattooing. The oldest surviving tattoos are those found on Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy found in the Ötz valley in the Alps and dating from the 5th to the 4th millennium BC. We also know that the Germanic and Celtic tribes also tattooed. Mummies of Amunet from ancient Egypt and the mummies at Pazyryk in Siberia, (dating from the late 2nd millennium BC), we also found tattoos on them. So tattoos were known all over the world very early in human history.

  • Ancient Egypt and India used tattoos as methods of healing and as methods of religious worship. They were also signs of a regime in a society but also punishment. Tattoos in the Philippines were signs of rank and achievement and people there believed they had magical properties.
  • When Christianity appeared, tattooing was considered a barbaric tradition and slowly faded away in Europe, only to return with ocean voyages in the 16th. Travellers such as Sir Martin Frobisher, William Dampier and Captain James Cook brought with them indigenous people from places they visited and were often tattooed. Initially, tattooing was “reserved” for sailors and lower classes, but over time, as tattoo artists became more skilled, tattooing became a hobby of the aristocracy who had money to pay high professional prices. As the tattoo became cheaper, it was again seen as a sign of a lower class. It stayed that way until the 1960s and the hippie movement when it slowly entered the mainstream, changing from a misguided behavior to an accepted form of self-expression. It became so mainstream that even Mattel started selling barbie dolls with tattoos. People of both sexes, of all economic classes and of all ages can wear tattoos if they want to. In 2000, 15% of Americans had tattoos.
  • The world record holder in number of tattoos is Gregory Paul McLaren whose skin is 100% covered with tattoos. After him comes Tom Leppard who was born in 1934. His skin is covered with tattoos “only” 99.9%.
  • Hepatitis was a big problem after World War II and many places banned tattooing. Some places did not delay the ban until relatively recently.
  • The most effective way of tattoo removal today is laser removal. The laser breaks down large pigment particles into smaller ones, so that a body can absorb them and get rid of them naturally.
  • The ancient Greeks and Romans tattooed their slaves and criminals so that it would be easier to track them if they escaped.The Chinese tattooed their criminals.
  • If a tattoo ink has metals, there is a rare chance that it will heat up during MRI tests.
  • George C. Reiger Jr. has special permission from Disney to have tattoos of copyrighted material – specifically Disney characters. He has over 1,000 Disney tattoos, which includes 101 Dalmatians.
  • Ancient Egypt practiced “medical tattooing” among other forms. For example, they had tattoos to treat chronic pelvic peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum).
  • The first tattoo inks were made of carbon and ash.
  • Today, at least one-fifth of United States adults have at least one tattoo.
  • For those who love tattoos but don’t want them to last forever, there are temporary tattoos that are applied with a pen, pencil or as a water-soluble sticker.