History of tattooing
Tattooing has been practiced across the globe since at least Neolithic times, as evidenced by mummified preserved skin, ancient art, and the archaeological record. Both ancient art and archaeological finds of possible tattoo tools suggest tattooing was practiced by the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe. However, direct evidence for tattooing on mummified human skin extends only to the 4th millennium BC. The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date is found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to between 3370 and 3100 BC. Other tattooed mummies have been recovered from at least 49 archaeological sites including locations in Greenland, Alaska, Siberia, Mongolia, western China, Egypt, Sudan, the Philippines, and the Andes. These include Amunet, Priestess of the Goddess Hathor from ancient Egypt (c. 2134–1991 BC), multiple mummies from Siberia including the Pazyryk culture of Russia, and from several cultures throughout pre-Columbian South America.
- 1 Tattooing in the ancient world
- 2 Reintroduction in the Western world
- 3 Modern Western tattooing
- 4 Militaries From Around the world
- 5 References
Tattooing in the ancient world
In Southern India, permanent tattoos are called pachakutharathu. It was very common in south India, especially Tamil Nadu, before 1980. In northern India, permanent tattoos are called godna. Tattoos have been used as cultural symbols among many tribal populations, as well as the caste-based Hindu population of India.
In India, tattoos have many names, including tarazwa, gondan, and ungkala.
Henna was used as a bodyart dye, called Mehndi, in ancient India. It still remains popular today in the Indian subcontinent, and its use now encompasses the entire Middle East and North Africa. Evidence only supports the use of Henna as a hair dye (and a medicinal plant) in ancient Egypt.
In Egypt the majority of tattoos were found on women, indicating status. They also used tattoos for healing, religion, and as a form of punishment.
Tattoos were probably also used in ancient medicine as part of the treatment of the patient. In 1898, Daniel Fouquet, a medical doctor of Cairo, wrote an article on "medical tattooing" practices in Ancient Egypt, in which he describes the tattooed markings on the female mummies found at the Deir el-Bahari site. He speculated that the tattoos and other scarifications observed on the bodies may have served a medicinal or therapeutic purpose: "The examination of these scars, some white, others blue, leaves in no doubt that they are not, in essence, ornament, but an established treatment for a condition of the pelvis, very probably chronic pelvic peritonitis."
Cemeteries throughout the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang of western China) including the sites of Qäwrighul, Yanghai, Shengjindian, Zaghunluq, and Qizilchoqa have revealed several tattooed mummies with Western Asian/Indo-European physical traits and cultural materials. These date from between 2100 and 550 BC.
In ancient China, tattoos were considered a barbaric practice, and were often referred to in literature depicting bandits and folk heroes. As late as the Qing,[when?] it was common practice to tattoo characters such as 囚 ("Prisoner") on convicted criminals' faces. Although relatively rare during most periods of Chinese history, slaves were also sometimes marked to display ownership.
However, tattoos seem to have remained a part of southern culture. Marco Polo wrote of Quanzhou, "Many come hither from Upper India to have their bodies painted with the needle in the way we have elsewhere described, there being many adepts at this craft in the city". At least three of the main characters – Lu Zhishen, Shi Jin (史進), and Yan Ching (燕青) – in the classic novel Water Margin are described as having tattoos covering nearly all of their bodies. Wu Song was sentenced to a facial tattoo describing his crime after killing Xi Menqing (西门庆) to avenge his brother. In addition, Chinese legend claimed the mother of Yue Fei (a famous Song general) tattooed the words "Repay the Country with Pure Loyalty" (精忠報國, jing zhong bao guo) down her son's back before he left to join the army.
Tattooing for spiritual and decorative purposes in Japan is thought to extend back to at least the Jōmon or Paleolithic period (approximately 10,000 BCE) and was widespread during various periods for both the Japanese and the native Ainu. Chinese texts from before 300 AD described social differences among Japanese people as being indicated through tattooing and other bodily marking. Chinese texts from the time also described Japanese men of all ages as decorating their faces and bodies with tattoos.
citation needed] By the early 17th century, criminals were widely being tattooed as a visible mark of punishment. Criminals were marked with symbols typically including crosses, lines, double lines and circles on certain parts of the body, mostly the face and arms. These symbols sometimes designated the places where the crimes were committed. In one area, the character for "dog" was tattooed on the criminal's forehead.[
Tattooing has been a part of Filipino life since pre-Hispanic colonization of the Philippine Islands, tattooing in the Philippines to some were a form of rank and accomplishments, some believed that tattoos had magical qualities. The more famous tattooed indigenous peoples of the Philippines where among the area up North Luzon, especially among the Bontoc Igorot, Kalinga, and Ifugao peoples.
Filipino tattooing was first documented by the European Spanish explorers as they landed among the Islands in the late 16th century. Before European exploration it was a widespread tradition among the islands. Tattooing was set among the native groups of the Philippines, which sometimes tattooing was a sign of Rank and power in certain communities.
Some artifacts dating back 3,000 years from the Solomon Islands may have been used for tattooing human skin. Obsidian pieces have been duplicated, then used to conduct tattoos on pig skin, then compared to the original artifacts. "They conducted these experiments to observe the wear, such as chipping and scratches, and residues on the stones caused by tattooing, and then compared that use-wear with 3,000 year old artifacts. They found that the obsidian pieces, old and new, show similar patterns, suggesting that they hadn't been used for working hides, but were for adorning human skin."
When the Samoan Islands were first seen by Europeans in 1722 three Dutch ships commanded by Jacob Roggeveen visited the eastern island known as Manua. A crew member of one of the ships described the natives in these words, "They are friendly in their speech and courteous in their behavior, with no apparent trace of wildness or savagery. They do not paint themselves, as do the natives of some other islands, but on the lower part of the body they wear artfully woven silk tights or knee breeches. They are altogether the most charming and polite natives we have seen in all of the South Seas..."
The ships lay at anchor off the islands for several days, but the crews did not venture ashore and did not even get close enough to the natives to realize that they were not wearing silk leggings, but their legs were completely covered in tattoos.
In Samoa, the tradition of applying tattoo, or tatau, by hand has been unbroken for over two thousand years. Tools and techniques have changed little. The skill is often passed from father to son, each tattoo artist, or tufuga, learning the craft over many years of serving as his father's apprentice. A young artist-in-training often spent hours, and sometimes days, tapping designs into sand or tree bark using a special tattooing comb, or au. Honoring their tradition, Samoan tattoo artists made this tool from sharpened boar's teeth fastened together with a portion of the turtle shell and to a wooden handle.
Traditional Samoan tattooing of the "pe'a", body tattoo, is an ordeal that is not lightly undergone. It takes many weeks to complete. The process is very painful and used to be a necessary prerequisite to receiving a matai title; this however is no longer the case. Tattooing was also a very costly procedure.
It was not uncommon for half a dozen boys to be tattooed at the same time, requiring the services of four or more artists. It was not just the men who received tattoos, but the women too; their designs are of a much lighter nature rather than having the large areas of solid dye which are frequently seen in men’s tattoos. The tattooing of women was not nearly as ritualized like men’s were.
Samoan society has long been defined by rank and title, with chiefs (ali'i) and their assistants, known as talking chiefs (tulafale). The tattooing ceremonies for young chiefs, typically conducted at the time of puberty, were part of their ascendance to a leadership role. The permanent marks left by the tattoo artists would forever celebrate their endurance and dedication to cultural traditions. The pain was extreme and the risk of death by infection was a concern; to back down from tattooing was to risk being labeled a "pala'ai" or coward. Those who could not endure the pain and abandoned their tattooing were left incomplete, would be forced to wear their mark of shame throughout their life. This would forever bring shame upon their family so it was avoided at all cost.
The Samoan tattooing process used a number of tools which remained almost unchanged since their first use. "Autapulu" is a wide tattooing comb used to fill in the large dark areas of the tattoo. "Ausogi'aso tele" is a comb used for making thick lines. "Ausogi'aso laititi" is a comb used for making thin lines. "Aumogo" small comb is used for making small marks. "Sausau" is the mallet is used for striking the combs. It is almost two feet in length and made from the central rib of a coconut palm leaf. "Tuluma" is the pot used for holding the tattooing combs. Ipulama is the cup used for holding the dye. The dye is made from the soot collected from burnt lama nuts. "Tu'I" used to grind up the dye. These tools were primarily made out of animal bones to ensure sharpness.
The tattooing process itself would be 5 sessions, in theory. These 5 sessions would be spread out over 10 days in order for the inflammation to subside. The steps are as follows.
- O le Taga Tapulu (back and small of the back): In the first session the height to which the tattoo will rise is decided (Ano le Tua), this is always such that the top of the design will show above the lavalava. Then the va'a, pula tama and pula tele are outlined and the design filled in.
- O le Taga Fai'aso (the posterior): The aso fa'aifo are completed around to the abdomen and the 'asolaititi are finished. Next to be added are the saemutu, which vary in number depending upon social status. A matai will have four an orator three and anyone else would have two. Where it meets the 'ivimutu at the anus it is called tafaufile, where it covers the perineum it is called tasele, where it covers the scrotum it is called tafumiti and the area over the penis is called tafito. Needless to say this is very painful.
- Taga Tapau: The lausae, an area of solid tattooing, is added to the thighs beneath the aso e lua.
- Taga o Fusi ma Ulumanu: The fourth session is the tattooing of the ulumanu, from the center of the thigh up to the inner groin.
- 'Umaga (the end): The final sessions involves the tattooing of the abdomen, the area that covers the navel being called the pute, and is apparently the most painful part of the whole process.
Christian missionaries from the west attempted to purge tattooing among the Samoans, thinking it barbaric and inhumane. Many young Samoans resisted mission schools since they forbade them to wear tattoos. But over time attitudes relaxed toward this cultural tradition and tattooing began to reemerge in Samoan culture.
The Māori people of New Zealand practised a form of tattooing known as Tā moko, traditionally created with chisels. In the colonial period Tā moko fell out of use, partly because of the European practice of collecting Mokomokai, or tattooed heads.
However, from the late 20th century onward, there has been a resurgence of tā moko amongst Maori. There is also a related tattoo art, kirituhi, which has a similar aesthetic to tā moko but is worn by non-Maori.
Tattooed mummies dating to c. 500 BC were extracted from burial mounds on the Ukok plateau during the 1990s. Their tattooing involved animal designs carried out in a curvilinear style. The Man of Pazyryk, a Scythian chieftain, is tattooed with an extensive and detailed range of fish, monsters and a series of dots that lined up along the spinal column (lumbar region) and around the right ankle.
In Taiwan, facial tattoos of the Atayal tribe are called ptasan; they are used to demonstrate that an adult man can protect his homeland, and that an adult woman is qualified to weave cloth and perform housekeeping. Taiwan is believed[by whom?] to be the point of origin of all the Austronesian peoples which includes Filipinos, Indonesians, Polynesians and Malagasy peoples, all with strong tattoo traditions. This suggests the tradition may have originated with their ancestors in Taiwan, as some Taiwanese tribes are still practicing tattooing in the 21st century.
Thai tattoos also known as Yantra tattooing was common since ancient times. Just as other native southeast Asian cultures, animistic tattooing was common in Tai tribes that were is southern China. Over time this animistic practice of tattooing for luck and protection assiminated Hindu-buddhist ideas. The Sak Yant traditional tattoo is practiced today by many and are usually given either by a buddhist monk or a Brahmin priest. The tattoos usually depict Hindu gods and use the Mon script or ancient Khmer script, which were the scripts of the classical civilizations of mainland southeast Asia.
The earliest possible evidence for tattooing in Europe appears on ancient art from the Upper Paleolithic period as incised designs on the bodies of humanoid figurines. The Löwenmensch figurine from the Aurignacian culture dates to approximately 40,000 years ago and features a series of parallel lines on its left shoulder. The ivory Venus of Hohle Fels, which dates to between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago also exhibits incised lines down both arms, as well as across the torso and chest.
The oldest and most famous direct proof of ancient European tattooing appears on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, who was found in the Ötz valley in the Alps and dates from the late 4th millennium BC. Studies have revealed that Ötzi had 61 carbon-ink tattoos consisting of 19 groups of lines simple dots and lines on his lower spine, left wrist, behind his right knee, and on his ankles. It has been argued that these tattoos were a form of healing because of their placement, though other explanations are plausible.
Pre-Christian Germanic, Celtic and other central and northern European tribes were often heavily tattooed, according to surviving accounts, but it may also have been normal paint. The Picts may have been tattooed (or scarified) with elaborate, war-inspired black or dark blue woad (or possibly copper for the blue tone) designs. Julius Caesar described these tattoos in Book V of his Gallic Wars (54 BC). Nevertheless, these may have been painted markings rather than tattoos.
Ahmad ibn Fadlan wrote of his encounter with the Scandinavian Rus' tribe in the early 10th century, describing them as tattooed from "fingernails to neck" with dark blue "tree patterns" and other "figures." However, this may also have been paint, since the word used can mean both tattoo and painting. During the gradual process of Christianization in Europe, tattoos were often considered remaining elements of paganism and generally legally prohibited.
The significance of tattooing was long open to Eurocentric interpretations. In the mid-19th century, Baron Haussmann, while arguing against painting the interior of Parisian churches, said the practice "reminds me of the tattoos used in place of clothes by barbarous peoples to conceal their nakedness".
Greece and Rome
According to Robert Graves in his book The Greek Myths tattooing was common amongst certain religious groups in the ancient Mediterranean world, which may have contributed to the prohibition of tattooing in Leviticus. However, during the classic Greek period, tattooing was only common among slaves.
In Persia, tattooing, body painting, and body piercing have been around for thousands of years.They are depicted in stone reliefs of soldiers, kings, and supernatural powers remaining from the First Persian Empire (550–330 BCE).
The most famous depiction of tattooing in Persian literature goes back 800 years to a tale by Rumi about a man who is proud to want a lion tattoo but changes his mind once he experiences the pain of the needle.
In the hamam (the baths), there were dallaks whose job was to help people wash themselves. This was a notable occupation because apart from helping the customers with washing, they were massage-therapists, dentists, barbers, and tattoo artists.
It was thought that many of the Anglo-Saxon kings of England were tattooed, but much of this was conjecture. Reliable reports of tattooing date from the period of increased contact with non-European cultures
Sir Martin Frobisher (1535–1595) on May 31, 1577 set out on his second voyage from Harwich, England with 3 ships and about 120 men to find a north west passage to China and the promise of gold ore. Frobisher took prisoner a native Inuit man and a woman with a child; upon his return to England the woman having tattoos on her chin and forehead was a great attraction at the court of Elizabeth I. All three died within a month.
Between 1766 and 1779, Captain James Cook made three voyages to the South Pacific, the last trip ending with Cook's death in Hawaii in February 1779. When Cook and his men returned home to Europe from their voyages to Polynesia, they told tales of the 'tattooed savages' they had seen. The word "tattoo" itself comes from the Tahitian tatau, and was introduced into the English language by Cook's expedition (though the word 'tattoo' or 'tap-too', referring to a drumbeat, had existed in English since at least 1644)
It was in Tahiti aboard the Endeavour, in July 1769, that Cook first noted his observations about the indigenous body modification and is the first recorded use of the word tattoo to refer to the permanent marking of the skin. In the Ship's log book recorded this entry: "Both sexes paint their Bodys, Tattow, as it is called in their Language. This is done by inlaying the Colour of Black under their skins, in such a manner as to be indelible." Cook went on to write, "This method of Tattowing I shall now describe...As this is a painful operation, especially the Tattowing of their Buttocks, it is performed but once in their Lifetimes."
Cook's Science Officer and Expedition Botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, returned to England with a tattoo. Banks was a highly regarded member of the English aristocracy and had acquired his position with Cook by putting up what was at the time the princely sum of some ten thousand pounds in the expedition. In turn, Cook brought back with him a tattooed Raiatean man, Omai, whom he presented to King George and the English Court. Many of Cook's men, ordinary seamen and sailors, came back with tattoos, a tradition that would soon become associated with men of the sea in the public's mind and the press of the day. In the process sailors and seamen re-introduced the practice of tattooing in Europe and it spread rapidly to seaports around the globe.
By the 19th century tattooing had spread to British society but was still largely associated with sailors and the lower or even criminal class. Tattooing had however been practised in an amateur way by public schoolboys from at least the 1840s and by the 1870s had become fashionable among some members of the upper classes, including royalty. In its upmarket form it could be a lengthy, expensive and sometimes painful process.
Tattooing spread among the upper classes all over Europe in the 19th century, but particularly in Britain where it was estimated in Harmsworth Magazine in 1898 that as many as one in five members of the gentry were tattooed. Taking their lead from the British Court, where George V followed Edward VII's lead in getting tattooed; King Frederick IX of Denmark, the King of Romania, Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Alexander of Yugoslavia and even Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, all sported tattoos, many of them elaborate and ornate renditions of the Royal Coat of Arms or the Royal Family Crest. King Alfonso XIII of modern Spain also had a tattoo.
The perception that there is a marked class division on the acceptability of the practice has been a popular media theme in Britain, as successive generations of journalists described the practice as newly fashionable and no longer for a marginalised class. Examples of this cliché can be found in every decade since the 1870s. Despite this evidence, a myth persists that the upper and lower classes find tattooing attractive and the broader middle classes rejecting it. In 1969 the House of Lords debated a bill to ban the tattooing of minors, on grounds it had become "trendy" with the young in recent years but was associated with crime. It was noted that 40 per cent of young criminals had tattoos and that marking the skin in this way tended to encourage self-identification with criminal groups. Two peers, Lord Teynham and the Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair however rose to object that they had been tattooed as youngsters, with no ill effects. Since the 1970s tattoos have become more socially acceptable, and fashionable among celebrities. Tattoos are less prominent on figures of authority, and the practice of tattooing by the elderly is still considered remarkable.
But those who paint themselves permanently do so with extreme pain, using, for this purpose, needles, sharp awls, or piercing thorns, with which they perforate, or have others perforate, the skin. Thus they form on the face, the neck, the breast, or some other part of the body, some animal or monster, for instance, an Eagle, a Serpent, a Dragon, or any other figure which they prefer; and then, tracing over the fresh and bloody design some powdered charcoal, or other black coloring matter, which becomes mixed with the blood and penetrates within these perforations, they imprint indelibly upon the living skin the designed figures. And this in some nations is so common that in the one which we called the Tobacco, and in that which -- on account of enjoying peace with the Hurons and with the Iroquois -- was called Neutral, I know not whether a single individual was found, who was not painted in this manner, on some part of the body.
In the period shortly after the American Revolution, to avoid impressment by British Navy ships, sailors used government issued protection papers to establish their American citizenship. However, many of the descriptions of the individual described in the seamen's protection certificates were so general, and it was so easy to abuse the system, that many impressment officers of the Royal Navy simply paid no attention to them. "In applying for a duplicate Seaman's Protection Certificate in 1817, James Francis stated that he 'had a protection granted him by the Collector of this Port on or about 12 March 1806 which was torn up and destroyed by a British Captain when at sea.'"
One way of making them more specific and more effective was to describe a tattoo, which is highly personal as to subject and location, and thus use that description to precisely identify the seaman. As a result, many of the official certificates also carried information about tattoos and scars, as well as any other specific identifying information. This also perhaps led to an increase and proliferation of tattoos among American seamen who wanted to avoid impressment. During this period, tattoos were not popular with the rest of the country. "Frequently the "protection papers" made reference to tattoos, clear evidence that individual was a seafaring man; rarely did members of the general public adorn themselves with tattoos."
"In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, tattoos were as much about self-expression as they were about having a unique way to identify a sailor's body should he be lost at sea or impressed by the British navy. The best source for early American tattoos is the protection papers issued following a 1796 congressional act to safeguard American seamen from impressment. These proto-passports catalogued tattoos alongside birthmarks, scars, race, and height. Using simple techniques and tools, tattoo artists in the early republic typically worked on board ships using anything available as pigments, even gunpowder and urine. Men marked their arms and hands with initials of themselves and loved ones, significant dates, symbols of the seafaring life, liberty poles, crucifixes, and other symbols."
Sometimes, to protect themselves, the sailors requested not only that the tattoos be described, but that they would also be sketched out on the protection certificate as well. As one researched said, "Clerks writing the documents often sketched the tattoos as well as describing them."
Reintroduction in the Western world
That tattooing was somehow "reintroduced" to the Western world following European voyages to Polynesia is a myth. Tattooing has been consistently present in Western society from the modern period stretching back to Ancient Greece. Although Captain James Cook's voyages to the South Pacific imported the Polynesian word "tatau" (as "tattow", later changed to "tattoo"), tattooing was not novel at the time. A long history of European tattoo predated these voyages, including among sailors and tradesmen, pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, and on Europeans living among Native Americans.
Modern Western tattooing
The first documented professional tattoo artist in the USA was Martin Hildebrandt, a German immigrant who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1846. Between 1861 and 1865, he tattooed soldiers on both sides in the American Civil War. The first documented professional tattooist (with a permanent studio, working on members of the paying public) in Britain was Sutherland Macdonald in the early 1880s. Tattooing was an expensive and painful process, and by the late 1880s had become a mark of wealth for the crowned heads of Europe.
Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of global and Western fashion, common among both sexes, to all economic classes, and to age groups from the later teen years to middle age. For many young Americans, the tattoo has taken on a decidedly different meaning than for previous generations. The tattoo has "undergone dramatic redefinition" and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of expression. In 2010, 25% of Australians under age 30 had tattoos. Mattel released a tattooed Barbie doll in 2011, which was widely accepted, although it did attract some controversy.
Tattoos have experienced a resurgence in popularity in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, Japan, and North and South America. The growth in tattoo culture has seen an influx of new artists into the industry, many of whom have technical and fine arts training. Coupled with advancements in tattoo pigments and the ongoing refinement of the equipment used for tattooing, this has led to an improvement in the quality of tattoos being produced.
During the 2000s (decade), the presence of tattoos became evident within pop culture, inspiring television shows such as A&E's Inked and TLC's Miami Ink and LA Ink. The decoration of blues singer Janis Joplin with a wrist let and a small heart on her left breast, by the San Francisco tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle, has been called a seminal moment in the popular acceptance of tattoos as art. Formal interest in the art of the tattoo became prominent in the 1970s through the beginning of the 21st century. In addition, many celebrities have made tattoos more acceptable in recent years.
Contemporary art exhibitions and visual art institutions have featured tattoos as art through such means as displaying tattoo flash, examining the works of tattoo artists, or otherwise incorporating examples of body art into mainstream exhibits. One such 2009 Chicago exhibition, Freaks & Flash, featured both examples of historic body art as well as the tattoo artists who produced it.
Over the past three decades Western tattooing has become a practice that has crossed social boundaries from "low" to "high" class along with reshaping the power dynamics regarding gender. It has its roots in "exotic" tribal practices of the Native Americans and Japanese, which are still seen in present times. Although tattooing has steadily increased in popularity since the invention of the electric tattoo machine in the late 1880s, it was not until the 1960s that the place of tattooing in popular culture radically shifted. The Tattoo Renaissance began in the late 1950s, and was greatly influenced by several artists in particular Lyle Tuttle, Cliff Raven, Don Nolan, Zeke Owens, Spider Webb, and Don Ed Hardy. A second generation of artists, trained by the first, continued these traditions into the 1970s, and included artists such as Bob Roberts, Jamie Summers, and Jack Rudy. In the 1980s, Scholar Arnold Rubin created a collection of works regarding the history of tattoo cultures, publishing them as the ' 'Marks of Civilization' ' (1988). In this, the term "Tattoo Renaissance" was coined, referring to a period marked by technological, artistic, and social change. Wearers of tattoos, as members of the counterculture began to display their body art as signs of resistance to the values of the white, heterosexual, middle-class. The clientele changed from sailors, bikers, and gang members to the middle and upper class. There was also a shift in iconography from the badge-like images based on repetitive pre-made designs known as flash to customized full-body tattoo influenced by Polynesian and Japanese tattoo art, known as sleeves, which are categorized under the relatively new and popular Avant-garde genre. Tattooers transformed into "Tattoo Artists": men and women with fine art backgrounds began to enter the profession alongside the older, traditional tattooists.
As various kinds of social movements progressed bodily inscription crossed class boundaries, and became common among the general public. Specifically, the tattoo is one access point for revolutionary aesthetics of women. Feminist theory has much to say on the subject. "Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo", by Margot Mifflin, became the first history of women's tattoo art when it was released in 1997. In it, she documents women's involvement in tattooing coinciding to feminist successes, with surges in the 1880s, 1920s, and the 1970s. The earliest appearance of tattoos on women were in the circus in the late 19th century. These "Tattooed Ladies" were covered - with the exception of their faces, hands, necks, and other readily visible areas - with various images inked into their skin. In order to lure the crowd, the earliest ladies, like Betty Broadbent and Nora Hildebrandt told tales of captivity; they usually claimed to have been taken hostage by Native Americans that tattooed them as a form of torture. However, by the late 1920s the sideshow industry was slowing and by the late 1990s the last tattooed lady was out of business. Today, women sometimes use tattoos as forms of bodily reclamations after traumatic experiences like abuse or breast cancer. In 2012, tattooed women outnumbered men for the first time in American history - according to a Harris poll, 23% of women in America had tattoos in that year, compared to 19% of men. In 2013, Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, became the first Miss America contestant to show off tattoos during the swimsuit competition — the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder and one of the "Serenity Prayer" along the right side of her torso.
In recent years, various lawsuits have arisen in the United States regarding the status of tattoos as a copyrightable art form. However, these cases have either been settled out of court or are currently being disputed, and therefore no legal precedent exists directly on point.
Militaries From Around the world
Throughout the world's different military branches, tattoos are either regulated under policies or strictly prohibited to fit dress code rules.
United States of America
The United States Air Force regulates all kinds of body modification. Any tattoos which are deemed to be "prejudicial to good order and discipline", or "of a nature that may bring discredit upon the Air Force" are prohibited. Specifically, any tattoo which may be construed as "obscene or advocate sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination" is disallowed. Tattoo removal may not be enough to qualify; resultant "excessive scarring" may be disqualifying. Further, Air Force members may not have tattoos on their neck, face, head, tongue, lips or scalp.
Tattoos in the Army are strictly regulated under the new Sgt.Maj of the Army Raymond F, Chandler III. Under its new rules tattoos are strictly prohibited on the arms and legs and anywhere above the collar bone line, tattoos that are visible on other parts of the body cannot be any longer than two inches wide, and only one band tattoo is permitted in the body. soldiers who are currently in the army, and are affected under the new policy are grandfathered to keep the current tattoos under the validation of their commanders.
The United States Coast Guard policy has changes over the years.Tattoos should not be visible over the collarbone or when wearing a V-neck shirt. Tattoos or military brands on the arms should not surpass the wrist. But only one hand tattoos of a form of ring are permitted when not exceeding ¼ inch width. Face tattoos are also permitted as permeate eyeliners, for female's as long as they are appropriately worn and not brightly colored to fit uniform dressing code. Disrespectful derogatory tattoos and sexually explicit are prohibited on the body.
The United States Marine Corps has disclosed a new policy meeting their new standards of professionalism in the military appearance, on the Marine Corps Bulletin 1020 released on 6-2-2016, substituting any previous policy from the past.
The new policy in the Marine Corps unauthorized tattoo’s in different parts of the body such as the wrist, knee, elbow and above the collar bone. Wrist tattoos have to be two inches above the wrist, elbow tattoos two inches above and one inch below, and the knee two inches above and two below.
The United States Navy has changed its policies and become more lenient when it comes to tattoos, the Navy does not want to miss the opportunity of bringing in the brightest minds when it comes down to tattoos. For the first time the navy is allowing sailors to have neck tattoos as long as one inch. Sailors will also be allowed to have as many tattoos of any size on the arms, and legs as long as they’re not offensive tattoos.
The Indian Army tattoo policy has been in place since May 11, 2015 the government declared all tribal communities who enlist and have tattoos, are allowed to have them all over the body only if they belong to a tribal community. Indians who are not part of a tribal community are only allowed to have tattoos in designated parts of the body such as the forearm, elbow, wrist, the side of the palm, and back and front of hands. Offensive sexist and racist tattoos are not allowed.
The British army has changed its policy from restricting visible body art around the neck and other parts of the body, in an attempt to stop turning people away, and bring in new recruiters, with its new policy starting August 1, 2015.
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- Deter-Wolf, Aaron; Robitaille, Benoît; Krutak, Lars; Galliot, Sébastien (February 2016). "The World's Oldest Tattoos". Journal of Archaeological Science:Reports. 5: 19–24. doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.11.007.
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- A description of three of the men who took part in the Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789 refers to their being tattooed on the left breast, arms and 'backside' with designs such as stars, hearts, 'darts' and, in the case of a Manxman, the triskelion 
- "The reason why sailors tattoo themselves has often been asked." The Times (London), 30 January 1873, p. 10: The article describes recovery of bodies after a shipwreck:those of the crew were identifiable by their tattoos.
- The Times (London), 3 April 1879, p. 9: "Crime has a ragged regiment in its pay so far as the outward ... qualities are concerned ... they tattoo themselves indelibly ... asserting the man's identity with the aid of needles and gunpowder. This may be the explanation of the Mermaids, the Cupid's arrows, the name of MARY, the tragic inscription to the memory of parents, the unintended pathos of the appeal to liberty."
- During the Tichborne case, a witness, Lord Bellew, testified he and the missing Roger Tichborne tattooed each other while they were both schoolboys at Stonyhurst College. Tichborne left school in 1848. The Times (London), 2 February 1872, p. 10
- A schoolboy at Rugby is described as self-tattooed - 'His long skinny arms all covered with anchors and arrows and letters, tattooed in with gunpowder like a sailor-boy's' - and is mildly rebuked for this by his headmaster.Hughes, Thomas (1857). "3". Tom Brown's Schooldays. 2.
- Broadwell, Albert H. (27 January 1900). "Sporting pictures on the human skin". Country Life. Article describing work of society tattooist Sutherland Macdonald refers to his clientele including "members of our Royal Family, among them H.R.H. the Duke of York, H.I.M. the Czarevitch, and Imperial and Royal members of Russian, German and Spanish courts...."
- The Times (London), 18 April 1889, p. 12: "A Japanese Professional Tattooer". Article describes the activities of an unnamed Japanese tattooist based in Hong Kong. He charged £4 for a dragon, which would take 5 hours to do. The article ends "The Hong-Kong operator tattooed the arm of an English Prince, and, in Kioto, was engaged for a whole month reproducing on the trunk and limbs of an English peer a series of scenes from Japanese history. For this he was paid about £100. He has also tattooed ladies.... His income from tattooing in Hong Kong is about £1,200 per annum."
- Broadwell, Albert H. (27 January 1900). "Sporting pictures on the human skin". Country Life. "In especially sensitive cases a mild solution of cocaine is injected under the skin, ... and no sensation whatever is felt, while the soothing solution is so mild that it has no effect ... except locally."
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- The Times (London), April 29, 1969, p. 4: "Saving young from embarrassing tattoos".
- Celebrity ex-footballer and fashion icon David Beckham has 34 tattoos. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24296713
- Highly-regarded BBC presenter David Dimbleby’s decision, at the age of 75, to have a scorpion tattooed on his shoulder made headlines in 2013: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24906132
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- Deter-Wolf, Aaron; Diaz-Granados, Carol, eds. (2013). Drawing with Great Needles: Ancient Tattoo Traditions of North America. Austin: University of Texas Press.
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- Deb Tattooing has also become a fad among celebrities. David Beckham, an international soccer star, caught tattoo ‘fever’ beginning with the birth of his first son back in 1999 when he had Malloy ink his son’s name, "Brooklyn" at the bottom of his back. Acord. (November 19, 2006). "Who knew: Mommy has a tattoo". Maine Sunday Telegram.
- The Chicago art exhibition, Freaks & Flash, for example, juxtaposed circus sideshow banners depicting tattooed performers like "The Tattooed Lady" alongside art inspired by the tattoo Renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s.
- Nyssen, Carmen. "Early Tinkerers of Electric Tattooing"  www.buzzworthytattoo.com. Evidence indicates that electric tattoo machines were in use by the late 1880s, at least several years prior to the first tattoo machine patent obtained by Samuel F. O'Reilly on December 8, 1891.
- Schildkrout, Enid. "Inscribing The Body." Annual Review of Anthropology 33.1 (2004): 319-44. JSTOR. Web. 28 January 2013.
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- Osterud, Amelia Klem. The Tattooed Lady: A History. Golden Speck, 2009. Print
- Braverman, Samantha. "One in Five U.S. Adults Now Has a Tattoo." Harris Interactive: Harris Polls. N.p, 23 February 2012. Web. 07 February 2013.
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- Angela Cole (16 August 2013). "Grieving son William Mullane asks Maidstone tattoo artist Brendan Mudd to create artwork from dad's ashes". kentonline.co.uk. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
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