A Look at the History and Culture of Tattooing

Ct Tattoo Shop, Torture Ink, has set the bar for other tattoo shops in the region. They have taken the extra steps to assure that they are the premier tattoo establishments in the Northeast. Thousands of very happy customers have walked out of the shop with new body art decorating their exteriors.

Tattoos in Connecticut are a common thing, of course, but they are elsewhere too. Tattoos are applied the world over, and they mean different things to different cultures. For instance, in New Guinea, a swirl of tattoos on a Tofi woman’s face would indicate her family genealogy. Dark scrawls across a Cambodian monk’s chest will tell you his religious beliefs. Any big city gang member will most likely have various tattoos that indicate his or her street affiliation, and perhaps even what crimes he or she has committed, including murder. From Maori chiefs in New Zealand to Japanese mafia lords, tattoos are an expression of identities and lifestyles. Tattoos can communicate to onlookers who the bearer of the markings is, and what position they hold, or what they have done.

In September of 2013 there is a documentary to be aired on the Smithsonian Channel by photographer Chris Rainier. He has spent the last twenty years documenting the culture of the tattoo. He has covered jungles, cities, and deserts. He has visited and documented the hill tribes of the territory of New Guinea, as well as the streets occupied by L.A. street gangs.

What Rainier has concluded is that tattoos are not only embedded in the skin, but also engrained in the minds of humans as a way of expressing identity. He visited the island of Mentawai in Indonesia, and found that the ancient ritual of tattooing is quickly disappearing. Rainier hurries to document this culture before its traditional ways of tattooing become obsolete.

Rainier has also become fascinated with the current tattoo craze in the United States. It is apparent just about anywhere one travels in our nation. While it used to be confined to certain subcultures, tattooing has now gone mainstream. According to a 2006 Pew survey, 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 26 and 40 have been tattooed.
Our modern West’s first documented encounter with tattooing happened in 1769 when a naturalist aboard the British ship, Endeavour, witnesses the Polynesian practice of “tattowing” first hand. This naturalist, Joseph Banks, watched a 12-year-old girl become extensively adorned. “It was done with a large instrument about 2 inches long containing about 30 teeth,” said Banks. “Every stroke…drew blood.” The girl sobbed and fought, but two women held her down, occasionally beating her. It went on for nearly an hour.

Sailors began returning from tours of the South Pacific sporting tattoos of their own, and soon the Europeans looked upon these tattoos as something only obtained by unruly sailors, although they were highly admired in certain circles: in the early 1900s, the future Marchioness of Londonderry tattooed a snake, a star and a coat of arms on her leg, and King George V boasted a Japanese-style dragon.

Today people are getting tattooed for a variety of reasons, and the practice is getting more and more popular with time. No longer are tattooed citizens considered to be outcasts, or rebels. Now many tattoos are simply applied for the beautification of the body.

Ct tattoo shop Torture Ink is proud to be amongst the most revered tattoo establishments in the nation, setting the bar with outstanding artists and equally outstanding customer service. Give us a call and make your appointment today.

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