A Historical past of Tattooing Traditions Across the World

Tattooing shouldn’t be new. Whereas there has, admittedly, been an uptick within the variety of tattoo parlours opening to satisfy the ever-growing demand, numerous civilisations have been practising tattooing throughout the globe for 1000’s of years. With a historical past wealthy in range, every tradition has distinctive traditions which have formed the world of tattooing as we all know it right this moment.

So, let’s discover a temporary historical past of tattoos, tattooing practices and their origins.

1. Historic Egypt and Nubia

One of many earliest examples of tattooing might be traced again to historic Egypt and Nubia (modern-day Sudan) round 2000 BCE. An archaeologist found a mummified feminine physique adorned with tattoos in geometric shapes on her arms, legs, and stomach. These tattoos are believed to have been safety symbols throughout being pregnant and childbirth.

2. Polynesian Custom – Ta Moko

Many cite Polynesian tradition as one of the crucial influential within the historical past of tattoos. The artwork of tattooing in Polynesian society, referred to as “Ta Moko,” is deeply rooted in non secular and non secular beliefs. Every design is exclusive, representing an individual’s id – their lineage, social standing, and important life occasions. Tattoo artists, known as “Tufuga Ta Moko,” use conventional instruments made from bone, wooden, and shell to create intricate patterns and symbolic designs. Essentially the most well-known instance of Polynesian tattooing is the Maori facial tattoo, referred to as the “moko,” worn by women and men to symbolise standing and family tree.

3. Japanese Custom – Irezumi

Initially, the Japanese artwork of tattooing, known as “Irezumi” or “Horimono,” was based mostly on the idea that tattoos protected in opposition to evil spirits, with widespread motifs together with mythological creatures and non secular icons corresponding to dragons, phoenixes, and Buddhist deities.

Within the Edo interval (1603 – 1868), tattooing took on a brand new which means as a type of punishment for criminals who had been marked with distinct symbols to indicate their offences, making it troublesome for them to reintegrate into society- a sentiment that persevered to the current day (though there’s a shift away from this mentality).

4. Native American Tattooing

Varied Native American tribes are identified to have practised tattooing as a non secular and cultural type of expression. The symbolism and designs used different drastically between tribes, with tattoos usually depicting social standing, tribal identifiers, achievements in battle, or non secular connections.

5. Indian Custom – Mehndi

Originating in historic India, “Mehndi” is the apply of making use of intricate designs on the physique utilizing a paste made out of crushed henna leaves. Predominantly related to Hindu and Sikh marriage ceremony ceremonies, the bride and her feminine family members obtain conventional henna tattoos on their palms and toes as a logo of magnificence, non secular enlightenment, and pleasure. Whereas not everlasting, the designs sometimes final 1-2 weeks; Mehndi is critical in expressing cultural id and marking necessary life occasions.

6. Western Tattooing

The phrase “tattoo” itself might be traced again to 18th-century Europe upon the return of British explorer Captain James Cook dinner and his crew from Polynesia, the place they encountered the indigenous Ta Moko custom. The European sailors adopted the apply, resulting in the recognition of tattoos among the many working lessons. Within the nineteenth century, the invention of the electrical tattoo machine essentially revolutionised the trade, making tattooing and tattoo parlours extra accessible and prevalent.

Within the twentieth and twenty first centuries, tattoo parlours have continued to evolve by providing an ever-expanding vary of types, themes, and strategies corresponding to realism, watercolour, summary, and geometric designs.


The historical past of tattooing is as numerous because the designs, reflecting individuals’s distinctive beliefs, values, and aesthetics worldwide. So, as you search to attach with an knowledgeable tattoo artist, bear in mind you might be taking part in a seemingly ageless custom that hyperlinks individuals and cultures by time and site.