The Rise of Tattoos: A Brief History of Body Art

Body art has been around in some form or another throughout the history of mankind, but tattoos have only become popular in the last few decades in the Western world. Body art can be used as an expression of religious beliefs, a display of creative skill, or simply as decoration. Most types of body art have been around for thousands of years, with tattoos making their appearance about 5,000 years ago! By looking at how tattoos were used and when they began to become common, it’s possible to learn more about why this kind of body decoration became so popular in modern times.

Ancient Egypt

The history of tattoos can be traced back to ancient Egypt and the practice was often used in religious ceremonies. Egyptians would tattoo themselves with crosses on their wrists, hands, and forehead to show they were Christians. The markings were made by dipping a stick into a dye made from the soot from burnt wood or animal fats mixed with a natural pigment like green malachite or blue azurite. Often these tattoos would serve as amulets, symbols that protected their wearers from evil spirits and bad luck.

Ancient Greece

Tattooing has been practiced for centuries, with one piece of evidence pointing to the tattoos of an Egyptian woman, located in the 15th century BCE. The ancient Greeks were also known for their tattoo designs and methods. One such example is a man named Kresilas from Asia Minor who had his body covered in tattoos at some point during the 5th century BCE. The Romans also had an interest in tattooing and their artwork depicting scenes from mythology often depicted gods and heroes with elaborate body art. In more recent times, tattooing became popular as a form of self-expression and rebellion against societal norms. It was heavily associated with sailors, bikers, criminals, and other groups that have been historically marginalized or considered outsiders by society at large.

Imperial Rome

It has been said that tattooing was introduced to Roman culture by the Greeks, and references to tattoos can be found in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. It is thought that these tattoos were used to signify military rank or status, however, there are also references to body art in Roman literature.
There are accounts of a slave called Sthenius having his ears cut off and then being tattooed with the words SCREPE STHENIO which translates as cut Sthenius. He was then released from slavery.
Tattoos were also often used as a punishment for criminals and slaves who committed crimes such as stealing weapons or wine.

Medieval Times

Before the 18th century tattoos were considered to be a form of punishment and therefore were done on criminals. In fact, in some parts of the world, it is still illegal to get a tattoo without permission from the government. But with the coming Industrial Revolution came new methods for tattooing that gave tattoos more aesthetic appeal. This is when tattoos became popular among many groups like sailors who would commemorate their journey by getting a ship’s name or mascot tattooed on their arm. As time went on tattoos became more accepted and in today’s culture, it has become something that is quite common.

1600s – 1900s

Tattooing is an ancient art form that originated in the early 1600s. It was not seen as a cultural or religious practice and was instead associated with criminals and sailors. In the 1800s, tattoos became more popular and started to be used by members of the military to show solidarity with one another. As time passed, tattoos became a popular form of self-expression across many cultures.

Modern Day

Tattooing is an ancient practice that was once seen as a rite of passage. The word tattoo can be traced back to the Tahitian words ‘’ta’’ and ‘’tau,’’ which both mean to strike. It wasn’t until the 20th century that tattoos became popularized in America. In 1891, England outlawed tattooing and in 1907, New York City outlawed it as well. By this time, tattoos had already been practiced by sailors and prisoners; they were associated with lower class citizens and criminality. The repeal of these laws led to an explosion in tattoo popularity during the 1950s when celebrities such as James Dean were seen sporting tattoos on their arm or neck.

Where do you see tattoos heading?

Tattoos are becoming more and more common, with about one in four people now sporting at least one. This is partly due to the wide range of options for body art, as well as the ability to get a tattoo without ever stepping foot in a tattoo parlor.
Tattoos have been around for centuries, but they weren’t always so popular or widely accepted. They were originally used as rites of passage into adulthood and religious conversion during various periods throughout history. The word tattoo originates from Tahitian tatau, meaning to mark. In 1769, Captain James Cook observed that tattoos were widespread among Polynesians.

How have trends changed over time?

Tattoos have come a long way since their introduction to the Western world in the 18th century. In that time, tattoos have gone from a symbol of shame and criminality to an accepted form of self-expression with varying degrees of popularity. But this is only part of the story; it’s also important to note how what you want your tattoo to represent has changed over the decades.
In 1769, Captain Cook was killed by members from Hawaii, who proceeded to cut off his skin and slice pieces from it for souvenirs. The reports detailing this event were heavily sensationalized in Europe, making tattoos seem like a ritualistic practice that civilized people would never take part in.