ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tattoo: An Ancient and Modern Art Form

Updated on August 14, 2013

Tattoo Designs

Fairy Tattoo
Fairy Tattoo
Tribal Tattoo
Tribal Tattoo

Tattoos as an Art Form

It used to be that tattoos were symbols of violent men of which one should be afraid. Hell's Angels, those motorcycle-riding counterculture tough men of the American highways, were often tattooed heavily so that tattoos were associated with them. Any heavily-tattooed man was, in consequence, heavily suspect as someone bent on violence outside the law. Used to be, that is, and even then not always warranted.

Today, tattoos are symbols of pride as the ‘in’ thing for practically everyone, from students to movie stars, from sailors to office girls, and almost everybody else inbetween. In short, tattoos are now an acceptable social marking, that one can flaunt instead of hide. In fact, people are vying with one another in displaying the intricacy and aesthetics of their tattoos, so much so that tattoo competitions and conventions are periodically held to showcase them.

Ancient Tattoos Worldwide

The oldest tattoo marks were found in the famous Otzi the Ice Man, the frozen body of a man found in 1991 in an Italian-Austrian border area and carbon-dated to be about 5,200 years old. There were tattoos on his hands, knees, back and ankles that were thought to be medicinal in purpose. This discovery hurled back the time frame of tattoos from 2,000 BC; previously thought to be the earliest known incidence of tattoos, as found in Mummies of Egyptian women. Egyptian wall figures and clay figurines however, dated back as far as 4,000 BC, show women with tattoos, and ancient tattooing instruments were found in northern Egypt.

Egypt was however not the only place tattoos were prevalent. They were known to be worn by people all over the world in various ages, from the Central Pacific Polynesians to the Maori of New Zealand, the Native American Cree to ancient Chinese, Russians, Japanese, Filipinos and some Africans. In short, practically all ancient peoples used tattooing on their bodies for medicinal, magical, social, martial, decorative and other purposes.

How Tattoos are Made

Tattoos are made by piercing the upper surface of the skin with sharp pointed instruments, at the same time injecting small amounts of ink. The ink colors the area, and when the wounds heal, the tattoo is permanent, unless intentionally removed through surgical means, usually nowadays by lasers. Tattooing instruments used to be extremely sharp needles manipulated by hand, so old tattoos were for the most part rather rudimentary compared to contemporary ones. Today tattooing machines still utilize sharp needles but move them far more rapidly and they are capable of such precise, fine lines that they can produce figures in such great detail they look like pictures or paintings. The top tattoo artists can even reproduce portraits as perfect as any other artist can manage on canvas.

Getting Tattoos

Like many other things, the Internet is one great source of tattoo designs and one can find tattoo artists as well as their reputations. Type ‘tattoo artists’ in your browser search bar and you will get almost 60 million results, so you should find someone near you. Otherwise, there must be a tattoo studio in your community.

However, be sure to consider all relevant factors carefully before deciding on getting a tattoo. Tattoos are permanent, the process is rather painful and can often take many hours, so if you make a mistake in choosing a design, color or artist, the tattoos can be horrible errors of judgment on your part. But if done right, they are true works of art that are a source of pride for both the wearer and the artist.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)