Humans have been inking their bodies since the beginning of time. It’s ranged anywhere from showing respect to different gods, to showing off heritage or having certain tattoos represent hierarchy and beauty.
The more recent discovery was the “iceman”, a 5,200 year old mummy, who had tattoos drawn into his skin. When Professor Don Brothwell examined the body of the “iceman”, the tattoos that were on his body were small dots or crosses. These tattoos were placed on certain areas of the body like lower spine, his right knee and ankle joints. He then theorized that these tattoos may have been placed in certain areas to try and help alleviate joint pain and were more therapeutic than cosmetic.
It’s been noted that more women had tattoos in early times than men did. In a Gurob, a town close to Egypt, small bronze implements were found that were identified as tattooing tools. They were dated back to 1450 B.C. With tattoos being done on mainly women the question then asked is why?
History of Tattoos for Women
For years it was thought that any women with tattoos, was the mark of prostitutes or to keep them from getting sexually transmitted diseases. After years of research its now believed that while yes, some of those women did have tattoos, more so it has been believe these women with tattoos were of royal or elite descent.
Studies have been conducted more recently and it’s thought that patterns around the abdomen, on top of the thighs and breasts, played more therapeutic roles for women during pregnancy and birth.
Many tools were used before the “tattoo gun” was introduced. The small bronze tools that were found had wide, flattened needles on them, which if tied together would make patterns of multiple dots. The English writer William Lane described it as, “the operation is performed with several needles (generally seven) tied together: with these the skin is pricked in a desired pattern: some smoke black (of wood or oil), mixed with milk from the breast of a woman, is then rubbed in…. It is generally performed at the age of about 5 or 6 years, and by gipsy-women.”
History of Tattoos in Different Cultures
There are many different heritages that have had tattoos throughout the years which have all meant something different. The Greeks and Romans, used tattoo markings as a form of “belonging” either to a religious group or to an owner in the form of slaves.
In Native American culture there form of tattooing was mainly facial. Japanese, Polynesian and British people all had their own form of tattoos. It seems that for the most part, used in older times, tattoos were meant to be mainly a form of therapy then for decoration.
Tattoos didn’t really become popular in modern day culture until the 1960’s when they were mainly associated with bikers and hippies. Nowadays it’s very mainstream thing to do. It’s hard to find anyone that doesn’t have some sort of ink on their body.