The word “tattoo” comes from the Polynesian word “ta” which means to draw, or from the Tahitian word “tatau” which means to mark. This word was first mentioned in the notes of James Cook in 1769.
Some scientists claim that the first traces of tattoos were found on the body of an ice man, which was about 5200 years ago. There were 57 tattoos on his body. The tattoos found on the bodies of Egyptian mummies date back to 2000 BC. While some believe that prostitutes were tattooed in Egypt, others believe that tattoos played the role of amulet or that they served as a protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
Historian Herodotus (Ἡρόδοτος) wrote about the king who used tattoos to send secret messages. He would shave the head of a messenger and tattoo the message. When his hair grew, he would send goods to the road. The moment the message was “delivered”, the messenger would be killed.
Throughout history, some people have been tattooed forcefully for identification purposes. The most bizarre example is the identification system for prisoners of war in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.
The meaning of tattoos depends on the historical period and the climate. In Rome, slaves and criminals were once tattooed. In Maori (New Zealand) women tattooed their faces to conceal signs of aging and wrinkles. The Mantavej tribe (west coast of Sumatra) tattoos its entire body. The stories of successful hunting and important events are written on the skin of men. In Mali, some African tribes still wear tattoos on their faces today. Girls at puberty tattoo their lower lip on their own, and when they get married, the upper lip as well. These tattoos appeared in the period when girls were sold into slaves. Because the merchants were looking for girls with no stains, the tribe wanted to protect them in this way.
The greatest tattoo artist in history is Scot, Sutherland Macdonald, whose clients included: Emperor Nicholas II, Winston Churchill’s mother and Wilhelm Kaiser.
By 1892, tattooing was a long and painful process. Several needles were used, which were tied on top of a stick. Sam O ‘Riley, who modified Edison’s autograph printer, is responsible for the automation of tattooing.
The longest tattoo lasted 43 hours and 50 minutes. The record was set in 2006 in Australia.
American Julia Gnus, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the woman with the most tattoos. 95% of her body is covered with tattoos, which is why she is nicknamed the “Illustrated Lady”. The man with the most tattoos is Lacky Diamond Rich, who lives in Australia. 99% of his body is covered with tattoos, and he even tattooed his teeth and eyelashes.
The place most often tattooed is the hand.
There is a saying: “A sailor without a tattoo is like a boat without rum.” In addition to its decorative function, each sailor’s tattoo had a symbolic meaning. A tattooed pig or rooster protected the sailor from the accident, while anchor meant he sailed the Atlantic.
The British Richard Ashton tattooed a passport on his back as an expression of his patriotism. Several times he raised money at the bank by showing officers a “document” tattooed on his back.
The American George C. Reiger Junior has over a thousand tattoos on his body, based on Disney cartoon characters, including every dalmatian from 101 Dalmatians. Because the heroes were copyrighted, he had to seek permission, and was granted, on condition that he did not appear in magazines and not make money from it.
You can love or hate tattoos. When you see them, you will certainly not remain indifferent.