Tattoos 36


Tattooing has been a part of human society for thousands of years and can be found among ancient and native cultures throughout the world. The earliest tattoo to date was found on the famous "Iceman" mummy. Estimated to have lived around 3300 BC and discovered in 1991 in the northern Italian Alps, the mummy revealed approximately 57 tattoos on its ankles, back of the knees and lower back. It is believed that these tattoos were for medicinal purposes, possibly a form of ancient acupuncture.


Tattoos have also been found on Egyptian mummies (though only female) and are evidenced in many cultures worldwide, including Greek, Ainu, Mayan, Aztec, Norse and Saxon. Tattooing in Asia is thousands of years old.


Polynesians have one of the richest tattooing cultures in the world. The word tattoo comes from Tahitian word "tatu" which means "to mark something." The history of the tattoo in the Polynesian culture reaches back over two thousand years, and Polynesian tattoos are considered among the most detailed and complex. For Polynesians, tattooing is considered spiritual and sometimes can cover the entire body. Even today, the tradition of tattooing by hand is considered almost sacred by Polynesians, and the craft is passed from father to son, much like serving an apprenticeship.


The Hawaiian culture is renowned for its tattoos. In the Hawaiian society, traditional tattoo art, known as kakau, is performed not only for the purposes of individualism and ornamentation but also to guard one's spirit, health and well-being. Hawaiian tattoos are typically intricate, mimicking elements of nature such as leaves, reeds, plants, and certain creatures of nature such as lizards, tortoises, butterflies or fish.


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