The History Of Tattooing — Tattoos, Tools And People Through Millennia
Step into a tattoo studio today and you will hear the constant buzzing of machines, powered either by air pressure or an electric motor, as they penetrate the skin at a rate of anywhere between 50 to 3,000 times per minute. For some people, this sound invokes mild (at best) trepidation, for others, excited anticipation. You will see people from all walks of life getting their skin adorned with a myriad of styles and techniques: Old School, Blackwork, Neo-traditional, Watercolor, Black and Grey, and more. You can find a tattoo studio in almost any city in the world.
Tattooing has been practiced since ancient times, but it has evolved in various stages since then. In the past few decades, it has reclaimed itself from a time when it was used to demarcate fugitives or criminals, to grow into a thriving scene of artistic and individual expression. None of this would have been possible without those who came before, defining the Industry.
Tattooed mummies have been discovered all over the world. From Greenland to Siberia, Mongolia, China, the Philippines and the Andes. The world’s oldest preserved tattoos are believed to belong to Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy in particularly good shape found in 1991 in the ice in the Ötztal Alps (hence the name Ötzi). He lived around 5,300 years ago and had no less than 61 etchings on his body. These were clusters of horizontal or vertical lines that would most likely have been applied to the body by puncturing the skin and rubbing it with charcoal. The markings were placed around the lower back and the joints, places where scientists also found Ötzi to have suffered from physical degeneration. It is possible that the Iceman’s tattoos served either a therapeutic or a diagnostic purpose. The oldest preserved figurative tattoos were discovered in early 2018. They belong to a couple of 5,000-year old mummies from ancient Egypt. The man had a picture of a bull and a Barbary sheep, slightly intertwined, on his upper arm, and the woman S-shaped motives on her upper arm and shoulder. This discovery pushed the dating of the practice in Egypt back about 1,000 years.
To be continued …