A tattoo is a form of body modification, made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.
History of the word
"In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian tatau. In Tahitian, tatu." The word tatau was introduced as a loan word into English; its pronunciation was changed to conform to English phonology as "tattoo". Sailors on later voyages both introduced the word and reintroduced the concept of tattooing to
The first written reference to the word, "tattoo" (or Samoan "Tatau") appears in the journal of Joseph Banks (24 February 1743 – 19 June 1820), the naturalist aboard Captain Cook's ship the HMS Endeavour: "I shall now mention the way they mark themselves indelibly, each of them is so marked by their humor or disposition".
The word "tattoo" was brought to
Europe by the explorer James Cook, when he returned
in 1771 from his first voyage to Tahiti and . In his narrative of the voyage, he
refers to an operation called "tattaw". Before this it had been
described as scarring, painting, or staining. New Zealand
Tattoo enthusiasts may refer to tattoos as "ink", "pieces", "skin art", "tattoo art", "tats", or "work"; to the creators as "tattoo artists", "tattooers", or "tattooists"; and to places where they work as "tattoo shops", "tattoo studios", or "tattoo parlours".
Usage of the terms "skin art", "tattoo art", "pieces", and work" is gaining greater support, with mainstream art galleries holding exhibitions of both conventional and custom tattoo designs. Beyond Skin, at the
, is an example of this as it
challenges the stereotypical view of tattoos and who has them. Copyrighted
tattoo designs that are mass-produced and sent to tattoo artists are known as
"flash", a notable instance of industrial design. Flash sheets are
prominently displayed in many tattoo parlors for the purpose of providing both
inspiration and ready-made tattoo images to customers. Museum of Croydon
The Japanese word irezumi means "insertion of ink" and can mean tattoos using tebori, the traditional Japanese hand method, a Western-style machine, or for that matter, any method of tattooing using insertion of ink. The most common word used for traditional Japanese tattoo designs is Horimono. Japanese may use the word "tattoo" to mean non-Japanese styles of tattooing.
Anthropologist Ling Roth in 1900 described four methods of skin marking and suggested they be differentiated under the names "tatu", "moko", "cicatrix", and "keloid".
Tattooing has been practiced for centuries in many cultures, particularly in
Asia, and spread throughout the world.
The Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan, traditionally had facial tattoos, as
did the Austroasians whose language spread from Taiwan into southern China and
southeast Asia. Today, one can find Atayal, Seediq, Truku, and Saisiyat of
Taiwan, Berbers of Tamazgha ( North Africa), Yoruba, Fulani and Hausa people
of , and Māori of New Zealand with facial tattoos. Nigeria
Tattooing was popular in southern
and among the Polynesians, as well
asamong certain tribal groups in China Africa, , Borneo, Cambodia Europe, , the Japan , Mentawai Islands , MesoAmerica, New Zealand North America and South America, the , and Philippines . The modern revival in tattooing
stems from the voyage of Captain James Cook in the late 1700s. Cook's Science
Officer and Expedition Botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, returned to Taiwan with a tattoo. Banks was a highly
regarded member of the English aristocracy and had acquired his position with
Cook by putting up what was at the time the princely sum of some ten thousand
pounds in the expedition. In turn, Cook brought back with him a tattooed
Raiatean man, Omai, whom he presented to King George and the England English Court. Many of Cook's men, ordinary
seamen and sailors, came back with tattoos, a tradition that would soon become
associated with men of the sea in the public's mind and the press of the day.
In the process sailors and seamen re-introduced the practice of tattooing in Europe and it spread rapidly to seaports
around the globe.
As many tattoos were stimulated by Polynesian and Japanese examples, amateur tattoo artists were in great demand in port cities all over the world, especially by European and American sailors. The first documented professional tattoo artist in the
was Martin Hildebrandt, a German immigrant who
arrived in USA in 1846. Between 1861 and 1865, he
tattooed soldiers on both sides in the American Civil War. The first documented
professional tattooist in Boston, Massachusetts was established in Britain Liverpool in the 1870s. Tattooing was an
expensive and painful process, and by the 1870s had become a mark of wealth for
the crowned heads of Europe.
Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of Western fashion, common among both sexes, to all economic classes, and to age groups from the later teen years to middle age. For many young Americans, the tattoo has taken on a decidedly different meaning than for previous generations. The tattoo has "undergone dramatic redefinition" and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of expression. In 2010, 25% of Australians under age 30 had tattoos.