September 11, 2011
Tattoos today mean many things to many different people. Some people get them in memorial to someone who has died. Other people get them as a representation of some aspect of their personality, and still others get them to express their own personal beliefs or simply because they enjoy how they look. Many people are unaware of the long and diverse history of modern tattoos and how society views them as a whole.
Nobody knows exactly when the practice of placing tattoos began or why they were used the way they were. The oldest known tattoo was found on an “Iceman” who was carbon dated to be 5,200 years old. He had tattoos in areas corresponding to “stress-induced degeneration”. (Lineberry, 2007) It is unclear whether they were used as a form of healing art or as a placebo type treatment to make the iceman feel as though he were gaining some sort of health benefit from the placement of these tattoos. Further research discovered that these tattoos were made from fireplace ashes which are a far cry from the materials used in modern tattooing. No matter what method is used to apply a tattoo, or the material used to create the pigment, the art itself has remained the same.
The one modern people that have maintained their history of tattoos is the Maori people of New Zealand. “The Maori are best known for their full facial tattoos called moko”. (Sawyer, 2007) Their tattoos are very intricate and by studying the patterns used one can actually determine which tribe an individual is affiliated with and their geographic location. These tattoos can also be used to indicate tribal rank, genealogy and even the person’s occupation. Although they are found on any part of the body, the men most often have their tattoos placed on their faces while the women tend to tattoo more easily concealed areas of their bodies.
In Native American tribes,...