The Ancient Roots of Tattoos
Tattoos ride the line of being socially acceptable and unacceptable in certain circles. This could largely be due to the stigma revolving around them. Categorizing or profiling individuals as a whole based under the banner of a tattoo has made many guilty by association. If we reflect on history, we will see the meaning of tattoos stem beyond the modern day interpretation with a steeping past of tradition, culture and integrity. The Art of tattooing dates back to a minimum of 50,000 years ago. Our ancient ancestors included skin art as a part of their way of life. Tattoos had depth and meaning that symbolized their very existence and the role they played in the universe.
Venturing back to a time of tribal existence lies the beginning of civilizations. There are a number of reasons tattooing was an important and symbolic ritual. From the first perceived people of earth to the ancient rulings of Egypt and Rome, tattoos have been found to be prevalent in earlier socities. Understanding the roots of tattoos will offer a new perception of todays modern perspective.
Spirituality- Thousands of years ago, the people had very distinct spiritualistic views. Tattoos were designed to convey their standing, faith and loyal beliefs to their Gods or Goddesses. Nature played a key role in the religious cultures of old as they lived mostly off the land and learned to fully respect their surroundings. The marking on their body indicated growth in life on a spiritualistic level.
Ritualistic- Each person had a role to tend to in a tribe or culture. Often times the rites of passage from one phase into another was expressed with tattooing. Hunters and those who stayed home had separate tasks to tend to with a differing marking to show their strengths. Marriages, births and deaths were connected with tattoos to show solidarity with the intended individual. Funerals sent loved ones into the next life while profoundly documented on the skin for an everlasting reminder. They also celebrated the coming of age for members and rank of a persons status. These were portrayed through intricate tattoos and performed rituals.
Superstitious Beliefs- Tattoos were known to ward off evil, invite luck or keep one from falling ill. In ancient traditions, endless possibilities could become perilous at any given moment. Adapting to clan markings were thought to bring unity and allow the deceased to recognize one another. Beauty and pride were mingled into their beliefs making it essential to have markings. If one was unable to endure the pain, they would be shamed due to the unfinished process.
It was common in history to take refuge in a tattoo versus exploiting its origins. Without knowing where tomorrow would lead them, ancient cultures relied on tradition. Over the centuries, the art of tattooing and their symbolic meanings have been proudly passed down from generation to generation.