The earliest evidence of tattooing was found on Otzi, the famous neolithic “Iceman” whose frozen body was discovered in 1991.
Women in ancient Egypt were tattooed with symbols possibly intended to promote fertility and document motherhood.
The ancient Greeks used tattoos to identify spies and display social rank, while the Romans used them (and branding, because the Romans never skimped on the whole inflicting pain thing) to mark and designate slaves. Ancient Scandinavians were reportedly heavily tattooed—foreign visitors reported them as inked from their fingernails to their necks—though this practice didn’t last long after the spread of Christianity in Europe, when tattoos were declared an element of paganism.
In Northern Britain, early native tribes known as the Picts were documented by the Romans as being heavily tattooed blue and black. Tattooing was popularized in the modern Western world when drawings of intricately-inked Pacific Islanders became the subject of spectacle in England and the Americas. The invention of the electric tattooing machine in 1891 made tattoos affordable and more readily available to the working class. During the forties and fifties in the US, tattoos became the mark of the outlaw–bikers, gangsters, and criminals were all thought to sport them.

Today, tattoos are more popular than ever, with more than 24% of Americans having at least one. It will be troublesome to decide on one as a result of the numerous styles out there, being that Egyptian culture is one amongst the traditional civilizations wherever several archaeologists believe could are wherever tattoos originated from. Throughout history, tattoos have symbolized both relief and oppression, at times a luxury reserved for the nobility and at others a mark of enslavement. Several female mummies have been found with these tattoos on their limbs and Egyptian art and sculpture occasionally depicts females with tattoos on their thighs. Unclean tattooing practices contributed to the spread of diseases like hepatitis, and tattooing was, once again, heavily stigmatized. Designs have come a long way from the dots and crosses of the ancients–modern tattoos can be ornate or minimalistic and can range, aesthetically, from the obscene to the sublime. Tattoo artistry has fascinated, disgusted, and decorated mankind in turn for thousands of years and—as we can all see—continues to do so to this very day. The Iceman’s body is tattooed with more than fifty small lines and cruciforms, most of these clustered around his joint areas and spine.

Due to this—and due to the fact that they were the only ones openly sporting them—sailors and criminals were the groups most associated with tattoos during this time. Tattoos still carried a bit of stigma during this time, and many artists refused outright to tattoo women, believing it to be improper. The art was revived in the late 1960’s when tattooing equipment improved, safety regulations were put into place, and inked celebrities made the practice chic.
Most modern tattoos are applied as a way of expressing individuality—Greg, a tattoo artist from a Lafayette tattoo shop, says that the tattoos he designs and applies usually have personal significance to his customers. Degeneration of his bones suggests that he may have experienced pain in these areas and the tattoos were possibly meant to provide pain relief, in much the same way that acupuncture is used.
The stigma surrounding tattooed individuals has lessened considerably, and the process is safer and faster now than it has ever been before.

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