The tattoo (which comes from the Tahitian word tatu; meaning "to mark something") has been around since 12,000 BC, but its purpose varies from culture to culture. In 1992, a 4000-year-old body of a man with tattoos was found in a glacier in Austria. In ancient Egypt, a tattoo was considered a sign of nobility or fertility, and the marks have been found on Egyptian mummies dating from 2000 B.C. Believed by many ancient peoples to provide magical protection against bad luck or disease, tattoos were used to identify rank, social position, or group membership in a variety of cultures including the Greeks, Gauls, Thracian's, and ancient Britons and Germans. In Roman times, tattoos were the mark of slaves and criminals, but the dawning of Christianity brought the practice into disrepute and tattooing was forbidden in Europe.Every culture since has tattooed themselves in one form or another, for reasons of spirituality, protection, strength, and history.
Tattoos have always had an important role in ritual and tradition. You can see this in Borneo, where women tattooed symbols on their forearm to indicate a particular skill. If a woman wore a symbol indicating she was a skilled weaver, her marriageability status rose. Tattoos around the wrist and fingers were believed to ward off illness/spirits.
Tattooing made a comeback in England and Europe in the 19th century, when tattooing became popular among royal families of the late 1800's. In fact, the mother of Winston Churchill, Lady Randolph Churchill, had a tattoo of a snake on her wrist.
Tattooing among the native populations in the Americas was widely practiced; many Indian tribes tattooed their face and/or their body. While some groups simply pricked the skin with black dyes, some tribes used color to fill in skin scratches. Among the tribes of Micronesia, Malaysia, and Polynesia, natives pricked their skin with a special pronged implement and tapped in special pigment. Maoris of New Zealand are known for making complex curved designs in the face with a stone instrument. Eskimos and many tribes of the Arctic and subarctic tattooed their bodies by puncturing the skin with a needle.
The first electric tattoo device was patented in the United States in 1891 and soon this country became well known for tattoo designs. American and European sailors flocked to tattoo parlors in port cities all over the world. At the same time, tattoos were often used to identify criminals and army deserters; later, prisoners in Siberia and Nazi concentration camps were given tattoos.
During most of the 20th century, tattoos had an unsavory reputation largely associated with motorcycle and street gangs, criminals, and military personnel. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, tattooing became more mainstream. The current popularity of tattooing and body piercing has also brought on an increase in potentially hazardous conditions. There are no regulations regarding tattooing, and neither the procedures nor the pigments used in the process are regulated.
Today, tattoos are becoming less taboo and more accepted. As they become more main stream; more professional shops open up, and the Artistic boundaries are pushed with the medium of tattoo art. Also, the advances in color and other tattoo equipment have made tattoos more than just a symbol or a testimony, but a real piece of art on skin.
Besides being a fashion statement now, tattooing can have more practical applications, such as covering hemangiomas (pink/red skin lesions also known as port wine stains), color changes in the lips after facial surgery, and masking the mottled-skin appearance of vitiligo. Tattooing can also be used to apply "permanent" eyeliner, although the iron oxide sometimes used for this purpose can cause injury if you later undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The biggest allergy issue the customer needs to worry about is with latex, as the tattoo artist usually uses latex gloves. (We use a latex and non-latex glove to ensure all clients are safe) You might want to ask your tattoo artist ahead of time if they would be able to switch to another type of gloves for your tattoo.
Even with a slight allergy to latex, you may want to have different gloves, as the tattoo artist will be doing a lot of stretching the skin and touching already tattooed areas. This can lead to swelling, irritation, breakouts, rashes, and more discomfort than necessary. This can negatively affect the healing process and tattoo outcome. It's why we always have Nitrile gloves on hand for any clients with allergies.
There are many metals that are put into (cheaper) tattoo inks, including nickel, which is said to be the most common metal allergy. Most normal earrings are made from nickel, so if you can wear those you probably don't have an allergy to Nickle. Our inks are organic, gluten free, and vegan friendly to ensure you're experience with us is a positive one.
Henna tattoos, which are not actual tattoos, but a dye that stains the skin for a few weeks, have chemical para-phenylene diamine (PPD), which can cause the “tattooed” areas to be swollen or itchy for months. Worse, it causes your body to become PPD hyper-sensitive, and be unable to touch things dyed with PPD, which is a chemical in many clothing dyes. Doctors suggest people with sensitive skin should avoid henna tattoos. A list of ingredients on packages of henna tattoo dye should let the customer know if that brand includes PPD or not.
Different physical reactions to tattooing have been reported by medical professionals in America and Britain, and although not a major issue in any way, it is important to discuss. Most reactions are due to allergies to the latex gloves worn by tattoo artists, sensitivities to metals within the tattoo ink, infections caused by unclean practices, and sunexposure.
Most people with metal sensitivities, especially mercury, have reactions or irritation for prolonged periods of time after getting tattooed. The color red is considered the biggest culprit for metal reactions. These reactions can leave the skin itchy and sore for months or even longer. Some people can develop a sensitivity to mercury that they did not previously have because of the tattoo.Your doctor can prescribe topical creams that are able to take away any discomforts related to metal sensitivity.
Infections, while not common, can be a difficult problem to not only cure but to pinpoint the actions that caused them. You may have gotten infected by something your tattoo artist did, or something you did on your way home, or while trying to heal your tattoo. You should keep your tattoo absolutely clean for the first few days of healing, keeping it away from germ infested areas and objects like diapers, litter boxes, stagnant water, etc. You will be able to tell that you have an infection by discoloring of the tattoo or the skin around the tattoo. If the surrounding skin becomes red or inflamed, you should bring it to the attention of a doctor.
New tattoos are sensitive and need to be protected from the elements. This means that prolonged exposure to the sun will damage the new tattoo, and cause soreness, swelling, and/or it will become hot to the touch. New tattoos also need to be safe from extreme temperatures. This includes water temperature, so take precautions when washing your tattoo that the water is not hot. Also keep your tattoo from being rubbed or bumped, as too much friction will cause damage to your permanent body art.
Tribal Tattoos and Their Meanings
“Tribal” means a lot more today than it did fifteen years ago. The definition hasn’t expanded any, but people are trying to throw more and more design and black work tattoos into the category of tribal, unsuccessfully. A solid black tattoo isn’t necessarily tribal, in fact,a tribal tattoo doesn’t need to be black at all. And any design isn’t tribal. Every tattoo design that is tattooed in black isn’t a tribal tattoo.
A tribal tattoo was a tattoo that actually designated what tribe you were in or your status in that tribe. Sometimes the design was different for men than women, sometimes only men got it at all. It could be different if you were married than single. The thing is, it meant something that you understood if you were a part of the tribe, of that culture. What we think of as tribal probably comes from a poorly imitated Maori or other tribal community’s symbolic social structure. We take designs from African tribes, Pacific Islander tribes, Hawaiian,etc., and we try to duplicate them on ourselves without any understanding of what it means, or the significance behind it.
Tribal tattoos were also combined with scarification in many cultures and tribes. This was because there weren’t needles in many areas of the world in order to place the ink nicely into the skin. The person getting the design would have incisions made into the skin, and ash or soot rubbed into the cuts. This healed leaving a stained black or gray scar, having both texture and color.
For face tattoos, one should research the Maori culture. They have a beautiful and delicate symmetry to their facial designs. The tribal designs of this and other cultures had something that we lost when trying to adapt it to meet our own beauty standards. These cultures choose designs that they thought would look best on the body, that spoke to them and complimented certain body types and areas of the body. Today, we find some tribal flash and place it wherever we have room to fit it, disregarding contours of the body. So the main lesson here is to understand what you're putting on your body and the significance it can have.