GOT INK? A history of tattooing - AXF style.

"Your necklace may break, the fau tree may burst, but my tattooing is indestructible. It is an everlasting gem that you will take into your grave."
- Verse from a traditional tattoo artist's song

i like tattoos. and, since you're here, chance has it that you probably don't mind them too much either. do you have one? two? are you covered? what are they of? did you ever wonder what it all means, or where it all came from? how it progrssed through the years and is now associated with particular groups of people? well, i like tattoos and have decided to poke my nose in a few books and see what i come up with...

First of, the word tattoo comes from the Tahitian "tatu" which means "to mark something."

The art of Tattoo has been around for many thousands of years.The styles and reasons for it have varied from individual to individual as they have from society to society.Some tattoos were done for simple adornment, others done for religious beliefs,and others still for reasons only t

Tattooing by puncture, with a sharp tool or needle which introduces a dye under the top layer of skin, was first practiced, so far as we know, in Ancient Egypt. Clay dolls fashioned during that civilization are the earliest evidence of tattooing to have been preserved

In October, 1991, a five thousand year old tattooed man made the headlines of newspapers all over the world when his frozen body was discovered on a mountain between Austria and Italy. He had apparently been hunting and was caught in a snowstorm as he tried to return home. Together with the body were clothing, a bow and arrows, a bronze ax and flint for making fire.

"I don't like superlatives," said Professor Konrad Spindler of Innsbruck University, but this is the only body of a Bronze Age man found in a glacier, and certainly the best preserved corpse of that period ever found." The skin is of great interest because it bears several tattoos: a cross on the inside of the left knee, six straight lines 15 centimeters long above the kidneys and numerous parallel lines on the ankles. Spindler stated that the position of the tattoo marks suggests that they were probably applied for therapeutic reasons.

Instruments that were probably used for tattooing during the Upper Paleolithic (10,000 BC to 38,000 BC) have been discovered at several archaelogical sits in Europe. Typically these instruments consist of a disk made of clay and red ochre together with sharp bone needles that are inserted into holes in the top of the disk. The disk served as a reservoir and source of pigment, and the needles were used to pierce the skin. Clay and stone figures with engraved designs which probably represent tattooing have been found together with such instruments.

Samuel O'Reilly invented the electric tattooing machine in 1891. O'Reilly improved upon an earlier tattoo machine invented by Thomas Edison that did not succeed commercially. Tattoo machines work by using a hollow needle filled with permanent ink. An electric motor pushes the needle in and out of the skin at a rate of up to 3,000 punctures per minute. The tattoo needle inserts a small drop of ink about 1/8 of an inch below the surface of the skin each time.