The stigmas that surround tattoos have always been fascinating to me; mainly because I find it interesting that certain people in the United States pass judgement on something that has been at the base of cultural traditions for thousands of years. I try my best to always keep an open mind in all aspects of life, so, that’s why I address this experience as something worth investigating, analyzing, and informing rather than passing judgement or disregard over someone who comes from a different demographic than myself. What better way to confront our differences than to give information based on fact. This comes from a recent conversation I had with someone whom I very much respect, and yet, this person spoke in such a derogatory way about “the kind of person” who gets tattoos. My thoughts are, everyone gets tattoos.
All of us come from somewhere…unless you are a Native American, born to this land, you probably have a tie to another country. Any little green men reading this can opt out if your planet has a strong feeling against the art of tattoo, and by all means, please feel free to e-mail and enlighten me about your alien body art culture. So, those Native Americans, similar to those from the Polynesian and Hawaiian islands, have a culture rich in the art of body modification. These practices historically came from a variety of reasons; some held spiritual or mystical meanings, other markings identified different tribes, some signified times of war with victory or conquest. Many early people from these civilizations believed that the tattoo could give them supernatural strength or endow them with supernatural powers.
All places bring a certain significance to the meaning of the tattoo. Cambodian monks delineate their religious beliefs by dawning dark scrolls across their chests. A woman from the Tofi tribe in New Guinea will indicate her family lineage with a swirl of tattoos upon her face. Chinese tattoos date back to 3,000 B.C. and are the massive body art of the Kanji, that signify ideas of love, blessings, beauty, and prosperity. Ireland draws from a rich cultural heritage with Celtic and Claddagh imagery that represent the history of Irish chefs and tribal warriors. The Eye of RA, the Scarab, and Ankh have a significance of life and rebirth, the union of male and female, depicted in the diverse hieroglyphic Egyptian tattoos. It all comes from some form of profound meaning, and directs us towards an indicative meaning.
This we must remember, it is all universal. Archeological studies have proven prehistoric tattoos existed on a 5,000 year old mummy in the alps. This proves to me that there is no “that kind of person”, or at the very least we should start to identify that all of our roots are derived from the people that populated this earth thousands of years ago. From the moment human expression began, we have found deeper meaning through connecting art to our bodies.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” -Marcus Garvey-