Vietnam War Essay, Research Paper
title: A Brief History of Tattoo type: Research Paper body: The art of Tattoo has been around for many thousands of years.The styles and reasons for it vary from individual to individual.Some done for simple adornment, others done for religious beliefs,and others still for reasons only their owners will understand.Tattooing will most likely exist in one form or a another for centuries too come.Although the basic concept of tattoo has been a constant throughout the history of mankind(inserting some type of pigment into the skin)the styles have evolved along with the techniques. Four thousand years ago,a man wearing a leather vest and boots met with his final fate.He was frozen in a block of ice.Four thousand years later,when his well preserved body was dovered,it was still covered with swirling images of animals and mythological creatures that had been tattooed into his skin.These images were crude by todays standards.After all,they were probably done with fine bone needles and pigments of soot or roasted nutshells.Done in this way ,the time it must have taken to do even a small design must’ve been hours.Imagine taking a spiny bone,and dipping it into your pigment of choice,then piercing the top few layers of skin.Each poke leaves only a dot of color.Also the chance for infection must have been great.Who knew about sterile conditions 4000 years ago? (Arcadia,109) The oldest tattooed mummy on record is the Lady Amunet,who was a priestess of the Goddess Hathor.She lived in Thebes around 2160 B.C..Her tattoos consisted of curling blue lines and dots scattered across most of her body.Historians don’t know if there were specific reasons or meanings associated with the markings themselves,or the placement.Eventually Egyptian tattooing began to move past simple abstract symbols and into more representational art.The only specific design found,was that of the God Bes.Bes protected the home,everything in it,and also women who were giving birth.Done as a simple outline,this tattoo has been found on the thighs of dancers’ mummified bodies.(Arcadia,109) Jump ahead quite a few years to The Age of Discovery,and we come to the seed of modern tribal tattoos,a style very popular today,but very reminiscent of Amunets lines and dots.The Samoan men wear what is called a Pe’a.It is a series of lines beginning at the kidneys,continuing down to the knees.The women wore a Malu.This covered them from thigh to knee.The tools for this time were sharks teeth,or boars tusks.They called these tools an Au.The other tool required was a mallet,called a Lapalapa.The skin would be stretched tight,and the Au and Lapalapa would be applied.In the same general area,the Polynesians used a tool called a Ta.It was a bone with jagged edges.This is were the modern word for tattoo started.It was Tatu,and in polynesian,it means to strike.(Arcadia,110) When we examine even early Japanese tattoos,we immediately see how the tools used have a direct effect on the style of tattoo.The Japanese used fine needles attatched to bamboo handles.Here we see some of the best work for its time.It was also one of the least painful tattoo experiences, and remains so to this day.This was also a contributing factor to the amount of coverage that was possible.Full and elaborate body suits were the style.The only parts not tattooed were the face,hands,and the 3 – 4 inch seam that ran from the neck to below the navel.The imagery was mostly taken from the classic literature at the time.These suits would consist of stories of conflict and courage.Sword wielding samurai doing battle with mythical dragons would adorn many men in one form or another.Unfortunatley for the image of tattooed people for years to come,these men were mostly members of the Yakuza,or Japanese Mafia.As tattoos were illegal at the time this became a badge of membership although it was also popular with the upper class men as well.(Delio,77) Even in the 1860’s in America the art of tattoo was still somewhat primitive.Blocks of wood,shaped into the outline of the tattoo,were lined with sharp points of metal,and dipped into the ink.These shaped blocks would then be hammered into the skin in one shot.Here you have an instant tattoo.However, the quality and style were severely limited,as were the number of people interested in obtaining such a piece of body adornment.(Delio,77) Only 30 years later,in 1890,Samuel O’riely,seeing a blueprint for Thomas Edisons electric engraving pen,modified it,making the first electric tattoo machine.The principle is still the same basic design for todays modern tattoo guns.A needle on the end of an arm would be pulled down by a magnetic coil.When the arm descended fully ,the connection to the current would be broken,and the arm would return to the upper most position.Here the magnet would reassert itself pulling the arm down again.Now you could pump ink into the skin in a continuos manner.This was the beginning of modern tattooing.(Delio,78) The Tattoo Renaissance began circa 1960.At this time,less then 500 tattoo artists were practicing in the U.S..These were mainly by military bases and amusement parks.With improved tools and techniques it was no longer a struggle to get the ink into the skin.Now the artist became more concerned with mathematical principles of balance,harmony,and prospective.Also just around this time,collectors and artist began to throw off the idea that they were criminals or mentally disturbed individuals.(Delio,78) Today with modern techniques and attitudes,tattoo is more accessible and acceptable then ever before.The only limit on this art now seems to be our own imaginations.Brightly colored or black and gray inks hold their shape and shade better then ever before.As the styles become more diversified,more people,young and old,are able to find something in tattoo that appeals to their own sensabilities.As we see in todays popular culture,tattoo is the thing to do.For those who say it’s a fad,they may be right.However,it’s a fad with highs and lows that have stretched from before the beginning of mans’ history, to the limits of his imagination.