Journal 3: Tattoos
September 12, 2011, 12:04 am
Filed under: Weekly Posts | Tags: , , , ,

Tattooing is a very old practice dating back several centuries. It was – and still is – an important ritual in many Polynesian islands, where tattoos represented pride, power and prestige among villagers. It is thought that Europeans sailors learned the art of tattooing from indigenes, like the Māori tribe of New Zealand, while doing their discovery voyages through the Pacific Ocean; although it is also believed that tattooing was an East Europe practice for a long time.

Tattoo techniques have changed during the course of Modern history. At first, tattoos were done with wood needles, made of sharp roots or wood sticks, which went through and off the skin quickly, leaving the ink in the dermis. Most tattoos were simple dots and lines that meant nothing. The completed tattoo took several painful sessions which were distributed throughout months! The meaning of the tattoo was not the tattoo itself, but more the endurance of it. Over time, the practice was reformed and sets of safe, more sanitary needles were implemented. Tattoos gained mainstream popularity when celebrities began to wear them. Today, tattoos are done rapidly, taking one or two sessions to complete. The process is strictly regulated by law and tattoo artists have to abide by it. The complexity of tattoos has also increased and more detail can be fit into a smaller area of skin.

Tattoos carry strong symbolic meaning, which in turn is normally based on connotations. These connotations differ from one sector of society to another. They are seen as symbols of crime and death by the conservative sector of society and this is due to isolated events in which tattooed individuals were involved: crime organizations resorted to the use of tattoos to identify fellow members – like the Crips and the Bloods did in crime-polluted New York City – as well as ex-cons who wore tear tattoos where seen as tugs for their tattoos – which were generally believed to represent how many enemies they had killed or how many fellow friends they had lost in gang wars. However, not all tattoo connotations are considered wrong. Another sector of society, a more liberal one, accepts tattoos as pieces of art inscribed in the human skin.

Tattoos, the process of inking them, and their connotations have endured reforms and new practices over time. Whether they are a symbol of misconduct and unlawful behavior or an artistic depiction of our own reality, it is up to us to decide which tattoo we want to carry. If you have a tattoo, embrace it, feel good about yourself. If you don’t have tattoos, however, don’t judge people who do; instead, get to know them. If indeed the person that carries the tattoo also carries bad will, think of that person as an isolated incident, a seed that fell among thorns and didn’t make it to become a tree.


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