I feel that no matter what walk of life or religion you come from, it is important never to pass judgement on someone for having tattoos. There’s meaning, pain and strength behind each. It is an art form that deserves respect. The western word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word “tatatau” that means “to hit or strike”. The first tattoos observed in history date back to the “Iceman,” a frozen mummy discovered in 1991 and is an estimated 5,200 years old. The Iceman had small dots and crosses tattooed on his spine, knees, and ankles. The placement of these tattoos leads scientists to believe that the tattoos were some sort of therapy to alleviate pain.
Before the Iceman was discovered, the first known tattoos were on statues of women on the upper thigh area and abdomen. The most common tattoos observed were abstract shapes, dots and lines.
When Nubian mummies were found, their tattoos were the first that were not only complex shapes, but a descriptive picture of the Egyptian god Bes. Bes was a god of revelry, the god of dancing, musicians, and one who protected women from labour, which is why the location of the tattoos on the thighs is actually very symbolic. The tattoos weren’t for looks, but protection from strenuous labour, spiritual protection for birth, preparation for the afterlife, and a sacrifice to deities. In Egyptian culture, only women had tattoos. There is no record of who inked the tattoos, but it is believed that elder women gave them to younger women. In some cultures this is still a relevant practice with mainly gypsies who receive their first tattoos by age six.
We have little knowledge of the tools that were used to create this body art. At the ancient town site of Gurob, W.M.F. Petrie found a set of flattened needles, which date back to 1450 B.C. We believe that these needles were possibly used for tattooing. A common tattoo pattern was a series of dots. These dots could be achieved by tying the set of needles together and then using them at once to ink the skin.
The Greeks and Romans used tattoos to show ownership, whether slaves, or a wife who was owned by her husband. The Greek and Romans marked criminals so that people would know who they were and what crime they’d committed. Tattoos were prominent until Christianity spread, which brought the belief that the body was God’s temple, and we are not to desecrate our bodies with tattoos or any permanent markings. Emperor Constantine banned them when he came to power from 306-373 A.D.
Mummies of Native Americans like the Cree tribe had extensive facial tattoos with spiritual meanings. Inuit women were found mummified with hearts and dots tattooed on them. Another common tattoo was a line over their eyebrows. It is unknown what the exact meaning behind it was.
Ancient Chinese mummies from the Taklaman Desert 1200 B.C. also revealed tattooing, but later through the Han Dynasty it was only criminals whom were tattooed.
Tattoos have become so accepted in culture today that everywhere we look to someone has one. Whether it is a koi fish that symbolizes strength and courage, a ring tattoo showing commitment and loyalty to your partner, a memorial tattoo commemorating someone you loved and lost, or a unifying tattoo that you receive with a family member or friend, they are all around us.
I can’t walk into one specific place without seeing visible tattoos. Even in church they are all around. I personally believe they are a beautiful art form. Tattoos embody huge spiritual and personal connections because why would you actually go through hours of extensive strenuous pain for no reason or just to follow a trend?.
With tattoos existing for thousands of years, there are also lots of ways to remove them. Receiving tattoos is a painful and time-consuming experience, but removal takes more time and pain because it typically consists of multiple appointments and a large financial commitment.
There are a couple of ways to have tattoos removed. The most common and well-known way is by laser. You go to a tattoo removal specialist and have a consultation. From there, the doctor will tell you whether all the ink will come out with treatment, how many treatments it will take, and how long each treatment will be, along with cost.
For laser removal, a laser pulsates on the area of skin repeatedly burning the layers of skin the ink is in. Blisters and scabs arise when the laser treatment is complete and then the ink comes out with the scabbing.
Tattoos have had pivotal meaning to many cultures for centuries. It is amazing that they have come so far in today’s culture: from being something negative like a branding on a prisoner to something so meaningful and symbolic like a wedding ring. In the United States over the past decade one of the most popular ways to show commitment to your spouse is with a wedding ring tattoo. With ordinary rings they come off and can be lost but with a tattoo that is permanent and will always be there as a permanent accessory. Tattoos have been around for thousands of years for a reason, and they are here to stay with a history spanning over 5,000 years.