Humans have ordained their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent and artistic marks have always had a personal meaning. The beautiful marks that were so carefully and meticulously etched onto the skin have served many purposes. The tattoo showed signs of love and inspiration while others were used to ward off danger or to protect the human from certain dangers. Some people view tattoos as unnecessary marks on the human body, while others believe the tattoo represents life, death, and inspiration. The very first documented tattoo was found on a frozen mummy in today’s Maori.
The mummy was 5,200 years old. Tattoos were also discovered on ancient female mummies in Northern Egypt. At first archeologists thought the mummies were slaves or servants to royalty but, the mummies were located in a queen’s tomb. The mummies had tattooed symbols throughout the body. Speculation among the archeologists was said to be that the tattoos are a healing power and were put on the body were it hurt. The mummies in the tomb are also documented to have small dots all over the abdomen and a tattoo of a small figurine on the tops of the thighs. The small figurine is believed to be that of the Bes God.
Bes is the protector of women during labor. The women would tattoo a web like design all across their abdomens and down the pubic area when they became pregnant. It is written that by doing this it would keep them and their unborn child safe during pregnancy. (Lineberry, 2008). Along with the Egyptians several other cultures took up the art of tattooing. Woman in Borneo tattooed symbols on their forearms to indicate the skill that they were good at. If a woman wore the symbol to show she was a basket weaver, her status of marriageable material increased.
Markings that were placed along the wrist and around the fingers were thought to ward off any illnesses. Greeks used tattoos to identify spies and normally the marks would indicate rank. Tattoos were also used to identify slaves who were owned by certain Roman families and the Romans also used tattoos to mark criminals. Unfortunately, this practice of marking criminals is still practiced today. Century after century tattoos continued to be an integral part of society. It was not until the late 1800’s that tattoos were seen in the U. S. and even then tattoos were mainly used by the American Indians.
Native American Indians used tattoos as a way of recognizing tribe members. Tattoos were also used for spiritual reasons. “In America, the earliest records of tattoos come from ship logs, letters, and diaries written by sailors in the early 19th century. The most popular designs in traditional American tattooing evolved from various artists who traded, copied, swiped, and improved on each other’s works. ” ( Vanishing tattoo, 2008). Soldiers and sailors who fought in both world wars used the various symbols. “Most of the designs represented courage, patriotism; defiance of death, and a longing for loved ones left behind. (Vanishing tattoo, 2008). During the Civil war several tattoo artists found employment in Washington, D. C… The best-known tattooist of the time was a man from Germany named Martin Hildebrandt; he began his career in 1846. Martin Hildebrandt traveled a great deal and was welcomed in both Union and Confederate camps. Martin Hildebrandt established what is to be considered the first American tattoo studio in 1870, in New York City. Another famous tattooist is Samuel O’reilly, he invented the first electric tattoo machine. Overnight tattooing in the USA was revolutionized. Vanishing tattoo, 2008). In America tattoos continued to gain popularity. Body ornamentation was spreading among western societies. Working class men wore tattoos primarily as a symbol of tough masculine pride. In the 1950s and 1960s the hippie movement turned to Asian tattooing techniques as personal expression of spiritual and mystical aestheticism. In 1970 the young generation of the punk movement used tattoos as symbols of rebellion in a political protest against society’s strict structure and values. In the eighties there was a decline in the percentage of men and women getting tattoos.
This was primarily because tattoos were frowned upon. This trend of tattoos being unpopular continued until the 21st century where, tattoos today are considered body art. The continued popularity of tattoos has placed tattooists in the category of “fine artists. ” (Tattoo you, 2008). As with any fad there comes’ a downside, for certain individuals who chose to get tattoos for personal reasons or self expression there are those who chose to use tattoos as a form of rebellion. Teenagers view tattoos as a way to rebel against their parents.
With teenagers their impressionable minds can take one look at all the young and upcoming celebrities and if a teenager was to see a tattoo on their role model it might just be one excuse to rebel. A different point of view on tattoos would be gangs. Gangs will tattoo members with numbers or words to show status or rank. Gang members who are in prison will get a tattoo to show other prisoners exactly what gang they belong to. Former gang members who have found religion often will sport a tattoo of a cross or the word “Jesus” and the day, month, and year they were saved. Walker, R, 2007). Individuals whose religion is important to them have also branched out and have gotten tattoos. There is a new Christian movement where young adults are getting the letters WWJD tattooed on them. In addition, the Celtic cross is making a comeback among people with an Irish decent. Among those who get a tattoo for inspiration or self expression, there are those few individuals who will go to no end to transform themselves into something completely different. Dennis Avner a. k. a. Stalking Cat, has transformed his body into a tiger literally.
On his website Avner tells his story of why he has dedicated his life to follow his heritage. His parents were of Horon and Lakota tribes and after talking to a Native chief, who reportedly had told him to “follow the way of the tiger,” Avner did just that. In 1985 he left his job as a sonar submarine technician for the Navy and began his journey. Avner has spent up towards $200,000. 00 dollars to have his whole body tattooed with black and orange strips. His teeth and nails have been filed down to emulate that of the tiger. Avner also had metal rods implanted into his cheeks so during the day he can attach whiskers.
Avner said his “life long dream of reaching his goal of becoming a tiger will be complete after he gets skin grafts of real fur applied to his own skin. ” (Avner, 2007). Dennis Avner is not the only individual to have had extensive body tattooing. A tattooed hermit known as the Leopard man is really named Tom Leppard. Tom Leppard who lives in Isle of Skye lives in complete solitude only going to town once a month for supplies. Tom Leppard told BBC television in a rare interview that “I spent too long in the forces, 20 years. I can not mix with ordinary people any more”. (Leppard, 2007).
Tom Leppard is completely covered from head to toe in leopard spots. He is according to Guinness World records is the world’s most tattooed man. There are those individuals who use tattoos as a way to make a living for instance, the “Enigma” is a man who is tattooed from head to toe in a blue puzzle pattern and he works in side shows in a traveling circus. Another performer “The Lizard man” is covered head to toe in green scales, has had plastic surgery on his face so it resembles that of a lizard, and he had his tongue surgically cut to be forked like a snake. The Lizard man works in Las Vegas as a performer.
Today tattoos can be seen in every culture whether it is a little butterfly or a whole body tattoo. Tattoos continue to grow in popularity and in the future tattoos may hold a purpose other than just art. Scientists in Germany are exploring the option of delivering a new generation of experimental DNA vaccines more effectively by using tattoos rather than standard injections into the muscle. “Delivery of DNA via tattooing could be a way for a far more widespread commercial application of DNA vaccines”, said Martin Mueller of the German Cancer research center of Heidelberg.
In the experiment no ink is actually used. The scientists use the tattoo machine its self o inject the vaccines. The vibrating needle penetrates the muscle deeper than a regular hypodermic needle making for a more effective method although more painful. Tattoo vaccines will not be for everyone but, will be valuable for delivering certain therapeutic vaccines to fight cancer or other serious conditions, where some pain is acceptable. ( Mueller, 2008). Also in the future Philips electronics are working on advance technology that reacts to the human touch.
Sensors are applied to various parts of the body and when certain emotions are triggered the sensors react and a tattoo is made across the body. This interactive method is being designed with couples in mind. There will always be some individuals who view tattoos as unnecessary, while others will use tattoos as a way to show self expression, rebel against a parent, or to completely transform themselves. Tattoos in the future may hold the key as a way to better deliver life saving treatment. In the future tattoos can help in hance a couple’s sexuality. No matter what tattoos are used for there will always be a meaning behind the mark.