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Body Art / Tattoos And Their Place In History

Updated on April 19, 2016
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Tattoos Around Us

For more than 5000 years (some say 6000) tattoos have been among us. Some call it body art, then there are others who see it as mutilation. It has been used as a status symbol, a rite of passage as well as being viewed as something spiritual. No matter the opinions it was in the past and is today on the rise. It's hard to tell why so many people have allowed their bodies to be marked or covered like a billboard or even if it serves a purpose.

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Tattoos Today: American sailors (1940s) are credited for bringing this fad to the United States, blaming their drunken outings and blackouts for them waking up with a naked woman or the word mother tattooed across their chest or on their arms. My husband (a Vietnam vet) told me that a lot of his friends were guilty of the same spur-of-the-moment thing; for them it is a status symbol for being a Marine. Bikers of the 1950s and 60s took it to another level and made it a gang symbol; skull and crossbones, skeletons...etc. The 1970s brought in the tattoos of hearts, love and peace symbols. In the 1990s tattoos were being looked upon as sexy, tattoos at the base of the spine of a woman's back. Baby daddy's names around the neck or Winnie The Poo and Hello Kitty on the arm or leg. More and more you see Hollywood stars and athletes are sporting their markings. A lot of gang members openly display their tattoos to signify their affiliation. Different people have different reasons for having one.

The down-side to tattoos is that they can be permanent, although they can be removed by laser there are no guarantees, some markings can remain. And let us not forget that there are also infections and allergic reactions that some may have from the dye.

History from the past:

.The Polynesians believed that their spiritual power or life force (mana) is displayed through their tattoos.

. In Samoa it defines rank and title

. Hawaiians used tattooing for ornamentation and to guard their health and spiritual well being.

. For the Celts it symbolized their life's journey.

. Africans were not able to display the coloring used in tattooing because of their dark skin so they used scarification which is not tattooing but related to it. They would take a sharp object and cut marks or shapes in their skin. Afterward they would use sand or ash and rub it into the cuts which made raised scar patterns on the skin almost like braille. A woman that I know from my past had similar markings (on her forehead) in the form of shapes. She stated that her father did it to all of his children because of war and wanted to make sure that if they were ever separated that he or someone in their family line would know who they were (even if they didn't) by their markings.

The more I research the more it seems as if tattoos have been around longer than we know. There are mummy's from the time of the great pyramids that have been uncovered and they have tattoos all over their mummified bodies, from the 4th-5th millennium BC the existence of tattoos have made themselves known.

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My tattoo history

Sharing a bit of my personal history I would like to state my reasons for having one. In the past I would have never considered ever having one. I saw men with tattoos as a turn off. In my mind it was as if these markings had a type of spiritual hold, that you were part of the things that you allowed your body to display. I got my first and only tattoo when I was 50 years old, I wanted my husband and I to get each others names tattooed across the heart as an anniversary gift. It took me almost a year to talk him into it, he never had one and was determined to never have one. There was a method to my madness for our getting one and the reason was this: My husband had a bad habit of taking his wedding ring off. Pretending that he had forgotten it, in my mind a man takes his ring off for one reason (another woman). Eventually he lost the ring, which did not surprise me. BUT, I had my own plans and it was to make sure that even if he didn't wear a ring, where he went I was. After a while I wore him down and we both got the tattoos as I wanted. Even tho we are separated today I do not regret my decision. For me it is a reminder of a thing that I won't get into, for him no matter where he is every time he takes a shower or looks into a mirror he will see me. Because of his drug addiction and fear of needles I don't see him removing it anytime soon (it would cut into his drug money). All in all it serves my purpose and I don't regret it; I guess you could say that it does have a spiritual and status attachment to it after all

© 2009 loveofnight

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