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Tattoo Body Art History


Do you know the history of tattoo body art?  Though it is currently trendy, modern society did not invent the art.  Tattooing has quite a long history going back hundreds, even thousands of years!

The Tattooed Iceman

In 1991, a mummy of an Iceman was found, his body adorned with many tattoos of horizontal and vertical lines. His body was found to be at least 5,300 years old. Many people have different theories of what the tattoos symbolized and why they were there. The tattoos were located on various joints throughout the body and it is believed that the tattoos were used like acupuncture to relieve join pain.

Egyptian Tattoos

Female Egyptian mummies were also found to have many tattoos on their body. Some believe the tattoos were meant for protection and to give them strength during pregnancy and labor.

Indian Tribal Tattoos

Indian tribes were believed to tattoo their women to show what skill the woman had. If they were good at cooking, they would wear a tattoo symbol for cooking. If they were good at sewing then they would wear a tattoo symbol for sewing.

It is believed that men had tattoos to show a mark of status, a medal for bravery and even as protection during a war. Soldiers believed that getting a tattoo of a religious symbol on their back would keep them from being harmed.

Changing Perceptions of Tattoos

Throughout history, tattoos have had varying meanings and symbols. Tattoos were once considered a sign of high status, a religious belief, and a mark of nobility. They have also been viewed as being a sign of deity worship, and it was once believed that only delinquents and convicts got tattoos.

The circus is thought to have brought tattoos higher popularity. Circus performers were heavily covered with colorful tattoos and many years ago people who had tattoos were considered to be more renowned simply based on the number of tattoos they had on their body.

Today, tattoos are used for aesthetic and cosmetic uses, as well as a form of self expression. People get tattoos for many different reasons: in memory of someone who died, in dedication to their children or loved one, or simply as artistic decoration. Tattoos are more accepted today despite past stereotypes and their popularity is growing rapidly.


Smithsonian Magazine
“Tattoos | History & Archaeology ”

The History of Tattoos
“The History of Tattoos.”

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