Tattoo Cultural Heritage

1796 Words 8 Pages
The Ink They Wear: Identity and Cultural Heritage of Tattoos

Lexx Hutton
Composition II
Dr. Kutney
In today’s society it is very common to see one or two people sporting ink in any given place. However, our desire to reflect our inner selves on our bodies has actually had an adverse effect on traditional and cultural tattoos. We have actually forgotten the meaning behind the tattoos tribes and communities used to wear. Because of this loss in knowledge and the adversity tattooing has gone through throughout the last century, we have come to see and decline of traditional culture based tattooing. There is no real definition for traditional tattooing. However, an example of traditional tattooing would be how tribesmen would tattoo themselves
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It has been established since around the Jomon period (14,000BC-300BC). However, the tattoos we see today were established in the middle of the Edo period (1603- 1867). With the growth of the bigger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka came an increase in crime. To punish these crimes Irezumi (tattooing) was introduced. Since it is almost impossible to get rid of these tattoos criminal would be marked. From there it spread, soon it became popular among prostitutes, gamblers, construction workers and …show more content…
The Greeks and Romans used tattooing to mark someone as “belonging” to a religious sect, as a slave, or as a criminal. In Jarret Lobell and Eric Powell’s article “Ancient Tattoos” they talk about the discovery of tattoos from different cultures from different times. One of those cultures was in America; a culture called Mississippian dated between 1350 and 1550 A.D. There is no direct evidence of tattooed skin but there is much evidence of tattoos on Ceramic pots that depict heavily tattooed human heads. The tattoos often took the form of feathers or raptor claws around the eyes. Aaron Deter-wolf of the Tennessee Division of Archeology says “By tattooing themselves with Bird motifs, they become that supernatural creature. The tattoos enable them to embody his force.” There are many Native American tribes that used tattoos. The Mojave tribe whose land stretched from Black Canyon to the Picacho Mountains below today’s Parker Dam, straddling the Colorado River had one of the most popular depictions of their tattoos recorded. Olivia Oatman was taken by the Yavapais Indians along with her younger sister after her family was killed by the tribe. She was repeatedly brutalized by her captors. A group from the Mojave tribe arrived in the village and convinced the Yavapais to trade the girls for two horses and a few blankets. They girls were taken to the Mojave tribe where they were taken in by a family who treated them

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