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Tattoo - Tattoo History

May 26, 2008
If you take a look through time and do some research as to where tattoos originated from, you will discover an interesting history. The sailors who had voyaged to the Pacific Islands were giving themselves tattoos having witnessed the practice among natives who inhabited such regions. It was from the Pacific Islands that this practice was brought to the knowledge of Europeans. Despite this fact, the practice of tattooing was reputed to have started in Egypt and way before Egypt was even an organized society more than six millennia ago.

During the Egyptian times tattoos were not borne simply to be displayed on bodies as forms of artwork but for symbolic reasons. The earliest tattoos were borne by women on their legs as a superstitious measure of protection against the dangers of childbirth. It was from Egypt that the practice of tattooing spread to other parts of Africa as well as into Asia and the Pacific Islands through various means such as through trade lines and travelers.

Archaeologists and Anthropologists discovered the mummified figure of a man in ice who dated back to the year 3300 BC and he had markings on his body similar to tattoos. These scientists believe that this is the earliest recorded evidence as to the existence of tattoos. More common tattoos were found on both Egyptian as well as Nubian mummies from the 2000 BC era.

Ever since this period, different cultures have used the art of tattooing in one form or another for different purposes. Some of the purposes of tattooing include religious and superstitious reasons. Others have chosen to bear tattoos for historical reasons. Tattoos have also been more than an indication of such reasons and have also played a role as symbols of pride. Polynesians allowed both men and women to bear tattoos but in various other cultures only men were allowed to bear tattoos. In Japan the art of tattooing even goes back earlier than the period it was discovered in the West and was used for various purposes.

Thomas Edison was reputed to have invented the first tattoo machine in 1876 as an electric engraver but years later it evolved into the machine that would start the new tattooing revolution. From this period onwards tattooing machines started to become more and more advanced. Samuel O' Reilly worked on the original blueprints of Edison in order to create the electric pen which provided advancement in the way tattoos were etched onto the body.

The machine we use today was first patented by Charlie Wagner, which was called a dual coil reciprocating engraver, especially made for tattooing. Circuses also played a big part in the history of tattooing. The modern circus always has a freak show exhibit has always been the heavily tattooed man or woman. This was the introduction of tattooing into America.

Pope Hadrian banned tattoos as far back as 787 AD and for that reason there has always been one controversy or the other as far as tattoos are concerned. Because of an outbreak of Hepatitis in the 1960's which was blamed on tattoos, a lot of states outlawed the practice. Tattooing has become synonymous with rebellion, gangs, dirty sailors, and motorcycles.

Nowadays after centuries following the origin of tattoos, they are becoming less of a taboo subject and more of an accepted art. More and more professional outlets are opening and artists are pushing boundaries with different media in terms of tattoo art.
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