Questions linked to tattoo are frequent from the tattooee or future one. here are some answers…
Nowadays the art of tattooing is a part of the cultural landscape of numerous culture.
The age of the first tattoo is always adolescence (between 15 and 20 years old) it works also with the primitive people where tattoo is integrated to initiation rituals. the person will keep an imprimpt of his adolescent uncertainty that could complete later with a professional tattooist. an error of youth but also a mark of passage under the sign of meeting and transit.
In fact even if it’s solitary tattoo is the product of a meeting with a group in wich it will become an affirmation of the self and a sign of membership. amongst those environements closed and mono sexual we can talk about: prison, boat, army, gang, rehabilitation center. Idleness, bordome, but also the use of drugs and alcohol are incitative factors as well as the imitation factor.
The usual tool of tattoo is the needle, but it can also be a razor, a pin, a knife. the professional tattooists use an eletrical machine wich engrave nad inject at the same time. Ink is the basic coloring but any non-soluble coloring product can be used: soot powder. The coloring is put in the incision and fixed during the cicatrisation the design appears when the inflamation go down.
If the action is not realy painfull it ,is a proof of courage and virility in the middle of the group wich connote its value of initiation.
Tattoo is not always made to be seen some are exposed but some are visible only for the initiated. some body parts stay virgin the face, the sex, the anal region. tne number of tattoo is variable going from a few grafitis to quasi total cover of the skin.
Iconography got a small importance because it is not the tattoo but the fact of being tattooed which is important. the termes chosen reduced, stereotyped are empty shells; from “nothing to say”, the meaning elsewhere beyond this code like “i” a delusion for one self and the others.
point and lines: they are organized accordind to a code which can be used as a system of communication. but as it is too poor and incomplete it can’t take the status of language. it gives a reinssuring pseudo identity in the eye of the others.
designs: they are innumerable but can be gathered in a few great theme: hearts and initials that commemorates a souvenir; the thoughts always dedicated to a woman, mother often.
others: crosses, animals, knives will affirme hatred, violence, vengeance.
others: dices, horshoes, clover as lucky sign.
the erotic themes represent women reduced as a partial object. it shows the ambivalence of the tattooed persons for whom women will be seen as a female and holes or as an idealised good mother.
Tatto is a part of humanity’s history. prehistorical men painted their bodies as a camouflage for war and hunting. then they tattoo themselves as men different from the animals they mastered and as viril and brave.
In numerous countries tattoo became an initiation rite from childhood to adulthood a kind of test. it also became a sacred sign magical filled with magic and supposed to protect and heal. sisgn of memebership to a tribe it also a decorative element.
it’s the real clothe of the primitive, it precise social roles of boy and girls. sign of virility, force and courage to the man it is considered as an adornment to the girl wich raise feminity. but in every culture tattoo ahs the character of ambivalence. Social mark of th erejected tattoo can be seen as humiliating. but it can also be seen as valorising tattoo is a prestigeous adornment.
Tattoo correspond to a transgression of religious, cultural, and social rules. tattoo is forbidden in the three monotheists religions.
it is socially forbidden because if in some tribal society it is ritual, necessary and institutional in our modern society it is the act of those who reject the systeme.
Tattoo and religions
christianity: christianism never had a realy clear position about tattoo, at the first council in 787 under the pope Adrian the first tattoo of pagan inspiration are forbidden. This council was cancelled by the one of Nicee. this position can be explain by the fact that the fisrts chistians tattooed themselves; sign of fish, lamb, anchor. Crusades were a good period for religious tattoo.
In fact it was common to go to crusades with a cross to be buried as a good christian in muslim territory. In the middle ages the pilgrimage to jerusalem was the occasion to do religious tattoos despite the negative advisory of the church. the orthodox christians armenian, egyptian coptes would tattoo a cross at the right wrist. for the christians of bosnia young girls were tattooed on the chest and hands to avoid their convertion to islam untill the end of the XIXth century.
the hebrew religion got a more firm position on tattoo ” you shall not incise you flesh and shall not write signs on you” this rule is followed because a tattooed person can’t be buried in a jewish cimetary.
islam forbiddes tattoo