Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Tattoos art history

The word tattoo is derived from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ meaning ‘to strike something’ and the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ meaning ‘to mark something’. Tattoo art history dates back to over 5000 years ago and is as various as the cultures and people that sport them. Tattoos to this day are increasingly popular, and are created by inserting coloring beneath the surface of the skin. One of the oldest known examples of tattoo art was found in 1991 on a 5000 year old ice man found in the mountains between Austria and Italy. This ‘ice man’ is the best preserved corpse ever found by archeologists and the skin of the ice man yielded more than 57 tattoos. The tattoos include a cross inside the left knee, six parallel lines above the kidneys, and numerous lines around the ankles. The tattoos were believed to be administered for therapeutic reasons such as arthritis. In 1948 more evidence of tattoos in history was found between Russia and China, 120 miles north of the border. Archeologist Sergei Rudenko was excavating tombs in the altai mountains in southwestern Siberia. 2400 year old mummies were found, and evidence of tattoos on the bodies represented different animals such as griffins, and magical monsters. The tattoos are believed to represent the status of the individuals, magical significance, or were simply decorative. Evidence of tattooing was also found in ancient Egyptian excavations. In 1891 remains of a priestess of the goddess of hathor were found dating from 2160 BC. The tattoos depicted lines, dots, dashes, and geometric patterns all over her body. In ancient Egypt tattoos were restricted to women as they were the ones associated with this ritual. The earliest evidence of Japanese tattoos were found on clay figurines on which the faces were painted and engraved with tattoo marks. The oldest examples date back to 3000 BC. The tattoos are believed to have magical and / or religious significance as they usually accompanied the dead, possibly on their journey into the unknown. The first written record of Japanese tattooing practices was found to date back to 279 AD. The Japanese seemed to be interested in tattoo art mostly because of its decorative qualities rather than magical ones. Japanese tattoo artists, called the horis, were the undisputed masters of their day. They used complex colors, perspective and designs; the classic Japanese tattoo covers the whole body!

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