History and Origin of Tattoos

Tattoos are permanent forms of body art that belong to a multitude of different cultures all over the world. Here, we take a closer look at the history of tattoos. We’ll focus on where they originated from, and how practices have evolved since early times. We’ll also look at how societal attitudes toward tattoos have changed over the years.

When and Where Were Tattoos First Performed 
Tattoos date back many thousands of years. In fact, we have firm evidence that tattooing is an ancient art form, after discoveries of tattoos on mummified skin were found. The oldest evidence of human tattoos is believed to be from between 3370 BC and 3100 BC.
Otzi the Iceman was discovered in September 1991. His nickname comes from the location he was found in the Otzal Alps. His body has naturally mummified and preserved, making him Europe’s oldest human mummy.
Otzi The Iceman
Otzi’s body has a total of 61 tattoos in various different locations, with the majority of these ink inscriptions located on his legs. Close examination of the markings on the mummy indicate that soot or fireplace ash were used to create the tattoos.While Otzi may be evidence of the first tattoos known to mankind, other eras and ages throughout history reveal a long and rich history of tattooing. There is evidence of this from over 49 different locations around the world, where tattooed mummies and remains have been discovered.Locations where tattooing practices have been recorded on human remains, include: Alaska, Mongolia, Greenland, Egypt, China, Sudan, Russia, and the Philippines. All of these discoveries link to different periods of time throughout ancient history. Some of these date back to 2100 BC.
Ancient and Traditional Practices
As the first tattoos date back to ancient civilizations, the reasons behind the newly-seen skin tattoos are fuelled by different theories. These theories reflect the location and the cultures of the civilizations themselves. Let’s take a closer look at some of these civilizations and some theories about why they used to tattoo themselves.
Tattoos in Iban culture
China & Asia
Some cemeteries across western China in the province of Xinjiang have revealed a number of mummies with tattooed skin. Some mummies date as far back as 2100 BC, while others are considerably younger, dating to around 550 BC. Within ancient Chinese practices, tattooing was considered to be barbaric and was highly stigmatized.
Ancient Chinese literature refers to folk heroes and bandits as having tattoos. It is also thought to have been fairly common for convicted criminals to be branded with a tattoo on their face. This tattoo was used to warn other members of society that this person could not be trusted.
There have been discoveries of tattooed mummies from ancient Egypt, which suggest that the practice here dates back to at least 2000 BC. Some theories indicate that the tattoos found on the mummies were for decorative purposes. Research by Daniel Fouquet suggests that, in ancient Egypt, tattoos may have even been performed as a medical treatment.His examination of the different scars found on the mummified body of the priestess, Hathor, suggests that the markings could have been a treatment for pelvic peritonitis. Another interesting discovery about tattooing from ancient Egypt is that it appears this practice was only carried out on the skin of women.This theory is supported by the fact that there is little to no evidence, either physical or artistic, that tattooing was commonly performed on men. This practice changed, however, during the Meroitic period, between 300 BC and 400 CE, when Nubian men received tattoos.
Tattooing has formed a part of Samoan cultural traditions for thousands of years. The history of tattooing in Samoa is a great example of how tattoos can form an integral part of social culture. It is even believed that the modern-day English word ‘tattoo’ may have originated from the Samoan word for tattoo ‘tatau’.The tradition of giving and receiving tattoos by hand in Samoa has been practiced for more than two thousand years. The techniques and tools used for this traditional practice have hardly changed during this time either. The skill is taught and passed down from father to son.The tool used to give the tattoos is handmade, from turtle shell and boar’s teeth. The process of receiving traditional tattoos takes many weeks to complete. Tattooing ceremonies are generally held to mark a younger chief’s ascension to a leadership role within society.Once complete, the tattoos represent and celebrate dedication to the culture and great endurance. These tattoos are extremely painful to receive and the procedure comes with a great risk of infection. Unfortunately, those who are unable to endure the pain can be branded with the mark of shame on their skin forever.
Ancient Greece & Ancient Rome
Written records provide evidence of tattooing from the 5th century BCE in Greece. Tattoos during this era in Greece and Rome were used mainly on the outcasts of society. Criminals, prisoners of war, and slaves would be branded with their status.A famous example of the use of tattoos by the Ancient Greeks was the Athenians tattooing owls onto the Samians after defeating them. Evidence shows the use of the verb ‘stizein’, which means to prick when referring to tattooing in their ancient literature.Throughout Ancient Rome there is also evidence of soldiers as well as arms manufacturers getting tattoos. It is believed that this practice continued right through into the 9th century. Slaves were also marked with a tattoo in Ancient Roman times to show they had paid their taxes.

History and Origin of Tattoos History and Origin of Tattoos Reviewed by sikharamtv dot com on March 20, 2020 Rating: 5

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