Power, Perils And Rites Of Passage History Of The Female Tattoo

Nearly a quarter of Australian women have tattoos. Some history attribute this to feminism. It is interesting to me that tattooing has become mainstream in the west, a practice that dates back thousands of years.

Tattoos have been discover on ancient Egyptian female mummies. From the 5th century BCE, Thracian women had sleeves tattoos on their arms. Traditional Maori culture had the eldest daughter of elite families tattooed as part a sacred ceremony.

I also researched abstract painted motifs on female Cycladic Cycladic sculptures. These motifs, I believe, are evidence that women were tattoo in Cycladic islands in Greece during the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000-2000 BCE).

My upbringing influenced my interest in tattooing. Growing up in Aotearoa from the ages 8 to 28 allow me to be expose to both Maori and Pacific Islands tattooing styles. The tattooist in Pacific cultures has been traditionally male (and often continues to be so).

However, there are ancient stories that say that the ancestral gods wanted the tattooist to be a woman to protect the practice and to be the primary recipient of tattoos. Tattoos done by both men and women in Maori society before the arrival of the British.

However, the 1907 Tohunga Suppression Act criminalized tattooing as one of Tohunga’s teachings or practices. This act was repeal when the Maori Welfare Act of 1962 was introduce in Aotearoa. There has been a revival in tattooing, both among men and women.

My First Seven Tattoos

My friends were tattoo-lovers growing up. When I turned 18 in 2000, I went to a local tattoo parlour to become legal adulthood. I also got a small tattoo. It was a custom-made tattoo that I created using elements from my zodiac sign.

My second tattoo was my first mermaid-inspired design. This was an expanded version of a charm that my father gave me. I wanted to be like the mermaid, able to adapt to different environments (above and below the sea). I had just moved from my home to make my way in a new place and attend university.

Manu Edwin, a Maori tattooist did my next five designs (Are You Experiment, Electric Lady, and Axis Bold as Love, as well as two large mermaids on either side of me back), When I was struggling with depression, I listen to a lot Hendrix, particularly the three albums by The Experience.

Edwin agreed with my belief that tattooing can be transformative. As he tattooed me, he would listen to each album loudly in his studio. This was just like how music and singing were use to drown out the tap tap of tattoos inked into skin using hand-held tools from the Pacific region.

The physical pain of getting tattoo makes it easier to see the emotional and mental benefits. The result of a tattoo is permanent and must be treat gently over the next few weeks.

My tattoos transform something that was ugly in my past into something I love for my future. Let’s take a look at four cultures from the past that had their women tattooed before I tell you about my eighth and most recent.

Maori History (ca.1250 CE)

Elsdon Best, an ethnographer, was a researcher who collected detailed information about the Tuhoe tribe (from North Island of Aotearoa in the early 1900s). In his book The Uhi-Maori (1904), he recounts how elite families tattooed younger sisters before tattooing the eldest, who was considered the most sacred.

Tapu was the tattooing of the lips or chin of the first-born child of a chief’s chief. This rite was known as ahita ngutu (sacred flame). To ease the pain and sacred process of tattooing, members of the tribe would surround the patient with whakatangitangi (repetitive song) and sing to them. The song for women was the whakawai-taanga nugutu.

An individual’s family history would determine the motifs of the tattoo, as well as the location of tattoos on the body. Papatea, or people without tattoos, were consider lower-status and attractive. To be tattoo was a sign that you are highly regard and desirable in your community.

Thracian History (ca.500 BCE)

Thrace of the Greco Roman world existed in parts of Turkey, southeast Bulgaria, and east Macedonia. Pictorial representations Thracian women with tattoos found on Greek red-figure vases, such as this one with a Thracian woman attacking Orpheus.

Luc Renaut (an art historian) suggests that tattooing in Thrace add beauty and value to women living in a society in which they were purchase for marriage (that’s, they incur a bride cost). This contrasted with the Classical Greek or Roman systems, where the bride’s relatives paid (a dowry), to the groom’s.

Classical vases depicting women (ca. 500 BCE), depict Thracian women with figurative and geometric tattoos. These tattoos emphasize the Thracian-ness displayed by the woman in this scene. They also indicate that she isn’t your average Athenian girl who can’t handle the lyre.

The Greek vase painting is a visual representation of the geometric and figurative motifs that Thracian women use: zigzags and dots, lines, checkerboard patterns and spirals. Ladder patterns and stick-figure animals are all included.

Tattoos were apply to the arms, legs and ankles history. Sometimes, entire arms and legs were cover in bands of different designs row after row.


You Make It Go Away Tattoo Regret

According to a Harris Poll, almost half of those aged 18-35 have tattoo and nearly one in four regrets them, according to a 2016. This would translate to approximately 7.5 million tattoo regrets based on an estimated 60 million people.

Anecdotally, many of my patients who are younger than me regret their tattoos. I am a primary care doctor. Many of my patients tell me that they had tattoos when they were young and didn’t do any research.

Since I didn’t have any reliable or other sources of information about tattoos to recommend to my patients, it was up to me to research the subject. I want to create a quick reference that would help teens understand the social and health issues that might arise after getting tattoo.

There were many unexpected and sometimes alarming concerns that I discovered that everyone should be aware of. Surprisingly, I found a lot of reports about ink complications, toxin effects and scarring.

Tattoo Ink Penetrates Deeper Than Skin

There are concerns about the long-term effects that tattoo inks may have on the immune system, pathology specimen interpretation, and other unforeseeable health problems.

A 2012 Danish Environmental Protection Agency report found that some tattoo inks are toxic and can contain carcinogenic chemicals. A study sponsored by the Australian government found that one fifth of tattoo inks contained carcinogenic substances. The vast majority of inks tested also failed to meet international standards for ink composition. Further concerning is the fact that carcinogens found in 83 percent black inks, which is by far the most common color for tattoos.

The European Society of Tattoo and Pigment Research was found in 2013. Its mission is to educate the public about fundamental facts about tattooing that many younger generations don’t know. This group discovered unsafe ingredients in tattoo inks such as mercury, barium, and copper. The research revealed a disconcerting mismatch between the ink container contents list and the actual chemical composition that was tested. The Food and Drug Administration is more concerned with tattoo inks.

Medical Treatment And Testing Errors

Magnetic resonance imaging studies can be use to study metal-based tattoos. Two case studies show patients who were able to get MRI-induced tattoo burns from iron compounds in tattoo pigments. Although radiologists believe this is rare, some suggest that you avoid iron-based tattoo inks.

In the meantime, pathologists are reporting tattoo ink from surgical lymph node biopsy specimens. A 2015 report in Obstetrics and Gynecology described the case of a young lady with cervical cancer that doctors believed had spread to her lymph glands. They discovered that the scans showed what appeared to be malignant cancerous cells, but it was actually tattoo ink. Another patient suffering from melanoma was misdiagnose.

Then There Are The Tattoo Infections

Staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas bacteria are the most common tattoo-relate infections. These bacteria can be cause by poor equipment sterilization or skin preparation. As antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria become more common, staph skin infections may become life-threatening.

A 2015 Tulane University School of Medicine study found that 3 percent of tattoos are infect and nearly 4 percent of those who have tattoos experience pain lasting over a month. A quarter of those with new tattoos experienced persistent itching for more than one month.

One brand of ink was responsible for 22 mycobacterial skin infection cases in four states between 2011 and 2012. These infections were manage by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with local public health departments.

Tattoo Induced Skin Conditions

In current literature, more serious tattoo-induced skin conditions like lichen planis, sarcoidosis and lupus-like reactions have been report. These skin conditions can cause permanent scarring and may last for a long time.

Hepatology reported that tattoos exposure was associate with HCV infection even in patients who have not been expose to other risk factors. Patients with tattoos should be warn that they are at greater risk of contracting HCV infection.

Tattoo artists can transmit hepatitis (10 times more common than HIV) through their use of needles. This is why the American Red Cross limits blood donation to individuals with tattoos that are older than a year old and not in regulated facilities.

Tulane University’s study added credibility to the blood donation restrictions. It showed that 17 percent of participants had at most one tattoo done elsewhere than at a tattoos parlor and 21 percent admit to having been intoxicate while getting at least one of their tattoos.


Tattoos Became Fashionable In Victorian England

Thomas Whitton, a shoemaker and labourer from Shoreditch Victorian in east London, was born on June 13, 1836. In June 1836, he was only 13 years old when he was arrest at the Old Bailey for shoplifting print textiles. He was sentence to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land in Tasmania.

The brown-haired, blue-eyed Londoner, who arrived in Australia one year later, had accumulated some unique tattoos during his long journey. On his right arm was a tribute for a girl, with the words love thy heart. On his left were images of two men holding a bottle and a glass, a mermaid and an anchor, and the initials R.R.

Whitton, who was finally freed at 20 years old, was only one of the 58.002 Victorian convicts we discover tattoo descriptions as we data-mine the court archives. Some commentators believed at the time that people of poor reputation used tattoos as a way to identify themselves as savages, a sign that they were part of a criminal gang.

Database Victorian Shows

Our database shows that tattoos on convicts express a wide variety of positive, and even fashionable, sentiments. They were not only popular among Victorians, but also convicts.

These records enable us to see, for the first-time, that historical tattooing wasn’t just for sailors, soldiers, and convicts but was a popular and accepted practice in Victorian England. The tattoos offer a valuable window into the lives and times of those who rarely keep any written records. They provide a glimpse into the lives and emotions of ordinary people from the past.

We conducted the largest ever analysis of tattoos. We analyzed 75,688 tattoo descriptions on 58.002 convicts from Australia and Britain between 1793 and 1925. Data-mining techniques were use to extract information from broader descriptive fields in criminal records. We also linked this information with extensive evidence regarding the backgrounds and personal characteristics of our subjects. We used visualizations to help us identify patterns and juxtapositions in particular tattoo designs.

A Brief History Of Tattoos

Tattooing is a practice that has been use throughout history. The practice was document on bodies preserve in ice, which suggests that it exist as far back as 4,000 BC. Although it is difficult to track a continuous history of tattooing, evidence is available from most cultures. It was sometimes use as a form for force stigmatisation (on criminals and slaves in the Greek or Roman empires), but also as a voluntary way to express one’s identity.

Early Christians had religious tattoos to show devotion and commemorate their pilgrimages. Although tattooing was ban by Pope Hadrian in 787 in the West, it is still a common practice in other cultures such as Polynesia or Japan.

According to the traditional story, the practice was revived in Europe when Captain Cook and his crew encountered Tahiti’s tattooed residents during his 1769 visit. Recent historians Jane Caplan, Matt Lodder and Matt Lodder have discovered evidence of tattoos among soldiers and sailors in the century that preceded Cook’s voyage. Our study uses convict records from 1793 to document a widespread practice.

A Written Victorian Record

Since tattooing is a practice where the only record is the person, very few records of the process survived before the invention of photography. The exception is the written descriptions of tattoos and sketches that were kept by institutionalised persons who had to provide information about their bodies to identify them. This is especially true for three groups: criminal convicts and soldiers, as well as sailors. The convict records, which are most detailed and systematic, are the best.

These records were originally kept in large quantities for people who were transferred to Australia in 1788 (Australia was an open prison at the time).

Similar records were kept in Britain starting in 1816 to help identify escapees. The 19th century brought about growing concerns about reoffending and led to record-keeping becoming more organized.

Designs And Victorian Subject Matter

Contrary to popular belief, convict tattoos were not limited to a narrow range of designs or subjects. They also expressed positive emotions

Multiple records found that include images relate to American and British identity, as well as designs center on diverse subjects such as astronomy, pleasure and religion. The most common were expressions of love and naval themes. The most popular type of tattoo was the written name and set of initials. They found in 56% of all descriptions. Also very popular, dots found in 30% descriptions.

As some of the most popular themes, such as naval, jewelery, and astronomy, declined. So did the number of tattoos that depicted religion, nature, and death.

The evidence is mainly from convicts who were transport to Australia and a quarter of them were tattoo. While we don’t know for sure, most likely they were acquire on the long journey. Many had their year of conviction, or their transportation tattooed on them. This is a sign that they recognized that the forcible removal halfway across the globe. Likely never to return to Britain was life-changing.