Tattooing is a marking made through inserting an indelible ink to change the color or pigment of the skin for decorative or other reasons. For humans it could be a decorative body modification and for animals it could be some sort of branding or identification. Tattooing has become a practice done by people all over the world.
The word tattoo came from the Polynesian word tatau and was pronounced as tattoo in English to suite their phonology. Tattoo enthusiast conned the words “ink”, “tats”, “art”, pieces, or work as substitute for the word tattoo and refer to the tattooist as artist. Copyrighted designs made by artist are known as flash. Artists display flash sheets in their parlors to serve options for would be customers.
Tattooing has been a Eurasian practice since the Neolithic times. Many mummies are found with tattoos dating back centuries ago. The processes in applying these tattoos also differ.
Tattoos are used for decorative and spiritual purposes. People engage in tattooing for religious practices, symbols of ranks, amulets, and charms. Its symbolism differs in many places. Tattoos also symbolize what you feel for your relative or family. It is also used as cosmetics by freak show performers.
Some people are also forced to have tattoo just like the Nazi inmates during their time for the holocaust. But tattoos could also be used positively, for example the Maori chiefs used their moko (facial tattoos) as signature. Forensic pathologist also uses these tattoos to identify whether the body has been burned, putrefied or mutilated since tattoos do not easily get destroyed through burning.
Veterinarians also perform tattooing to animals such as horses, dogs and cats for various purposes. It could be for health reasons such as tattooing an animal’s nose to prevent sunburn. Cats and dogs are tattooed on their ears so that owners could identify them. Branding is similar to it but it does not insert ink in the skin.
In the field of cosmetics, tattooing is used when there is a want for permanent make-up or to hide a discoloration of the skin. Permanent make-ups such as eyebrows, moles, lips or eyeliner come in natural colors to resemble make-up.
Tattooing is also applied in the field of medicine wherein instruments are marked especially in repeated application of radiotherapy and for the areola in some breast reconstruction procedures.
Tattoos gained a lot of popularity thus paving the way for improvements in its application. Many celebrities sport tattoos on their bodies. Tribal tattoos declined because of the spread of Christianity since it was considered as a pagan activity.
Recent survey shows that about 24% of the youth have tattoos compared to older people. Men and women are relatively equal in terms of who gets more tattoos.
Tattoos are also associated negatively in some things. In Japan for example where it is associated to the Yakuza. Many public places bear tattoos in an attempt to prevent the Yakuza from entering.
In America, the inmates have tattoos that symbolize their offenses. A tear for example would represent murder, one tear for every friend who died. In the armed forces it symbolizes the number of kills or the number of units in a certain battle.
There is no consistent Christian position in tattooing. The Jews are strongly against it as it is stated in the bible. Although tattoos of Christian symbols are common, in Islam, tattooing is strictly forbidden. They believe that they are destroying the creation or Allah through it. Judaism also forbids the practice since they do not conform to body modification without medical reasons.
Tattooing as a process is through inserting a dye in the skin’s dermis. Although now in the modern times there is a tattoo machine which inserts a group of needles in the skin.
Tattooing also carries with it health risks such as infection or allergic reactions. Sanitation especially in the needles must be observed.
Permanently done tattooing can also be removed through laser treatments fully or partially. However the expense and the pain is far greater than applying it.