The word “Tattoo” is said to have two major derivations from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ which means striking something and the Tahitian word ‘tatau which means ‘to mark something’. The first written reference to the word appears in the journal of JOSEPH BANKS (24 February, 1743 to 19 June, 1820), the naturalist aboard Caption 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 New Zealand. In his narrative of the voyage, he refers to an operation called “tattaw”, before this, it has been described as scarring, painting or staining.
The American Academy of Dermatology distinguishes fire types of tattoo: Traumatic also called “natural tattoos” that result from injuries, especially asphalt from injuries or pencil lead; Amateur tattoos, professional tattoos both via traditional methods and modern tattoo machine, cosmetic tattoos also known as “Permanent make-up” and medical tattoos. It’s sometimes used by Forensic Pathologist to help them identify burned putrefied or mutilated bodies.
Tattoos are judged negatively because of previous owners, as they used to solely belong to the skin of prisoners and pirates, many prison inmates still tattoo themselves as an indication of time spent in prison. They were a mark of pride to prove to the community of their criminal reputation. Symbols such as tear applied just below the eyes and religious imagery was a popular choice if the criminal had found God during conviction, prison tattoos show the person’s experiences.
It isn’t just prisoners that are showing their true colours; images and text can show interest of music, family, reminiscence amongst others. An increasing number of people are interested in tattoo as they see it as an art form. Tattoo art conveys individuality, as the choice image, design and artist communicates the person’s interest and significance of their own imagination.
Today, people choose to be tattooed for artistic, cosmetic, sentimental / memorial, religious and magical reasons and to symbolize their belonging to or identification with particular groups including gang or a particular ethnic group or law-abiding subculture.
When used as a form of cosmetics, tattooing includes permanent make up and finding or neutralizing skin discolourations. Permanent make up is the use of tattoos to enhance eyebrows, lip (liner and / or lipstick, eyes (liners) and even moles, usually with natural colours, as the designs are intended to resemble make up.
Tattoos are just another piece of fashion that have slipped into the mainstream fashion consciousness and it has become so ubiquitous as to carry on stigma at all. Today, to have tattoo is to be in fashion and in some sense to fore tell nostalgia. Getting tattoo hones in precisely on who we are, or who we think we are and makes that point with unceasing conviction.
As far as accessories go, tattoos are a big commitment i.e. obviously permanent yet most people are fine with it. You’ve got footballers, loads of actors, musicians, models, presenters, e.tc. sporting it, people are becoming more aware of it, it’s no longer only about tough masculinity of working-class men. Women are getting linked too. Tattoos are completely acceptance now, unlike a few years ago, it wasn’t, it would only increase in popularity.