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When you take a look back through time and study where Tattoos originated from it is actually quite interesting. Sailors who were overseas in the Pacific Islands were actually giving themselves Tattoos. From there the custom was introduced to the Europeans. This is likely about as far back as most people have any given knowledge about but it is believed that Tattooing actually started in Egypt, before Egypt was even an organized society, 6,000 years ago.
Of course during the Egyptian times people were not getting Tattoos to display on their bodies in the form of artwork but the earliest Tattoos were given on women’s legs as a symbolic but preventative measure to avoid dangers of childbirth. From Egypt Tattooing was later spread and shared with other parts of Africa, into Asia, and Pacific islands through trade lines and travelers.
Some scientists say that certain marks on the skin of the Iceman which is a mummified human body from way back in 3300 BC indicate that maybe the earliest evidence of Tattoos existed then. More widely recognized are Tattoos found on Egyptian and Nubian mummies dating from about 2000 B.C.
Every culture since has Tattooed themselves in one form or another, for reasons of spirituality, protection, strength, and history. During past times Tattoos have been a symbol of pride and a symbol of shame. The Polynesians allowed both men and women to be Tattooed, while in other cultures only men were permitted. The Japanese have been Tattooing since at least 400 BC, for ornamental and narrative purposes, but also as a marking on criminals to identify them.
The first electric Tattoo machine was first invented by Thomas Edison in 1876 which was actually supposed to be an electric engraver. Ironically, years later it began the revolution of Tattooing. From there the machines just began to become more and more advanced and profound. From Edison’s original blueprints, a man named Samuel O Reilly created the electric pen which was also a huge advancement towards how Tattoos were given.
The machine we use today was first patented by Charlie Wagner, which was called a dual coil reciprocating engraver, especially made for Tattooing. Circuses also played a big part in the history of Tattooing. The modern circus always has a freak show exhibit has always been the heavily Tattooed man or woman. This was the introduction of Tattooing into America.
Pope Hadrian banned Tattooing all the way back in 787 AD so there has always been controversy surrounding Tattoos. After a Hepatitis outbreak in the 1960s was blamed on Tattooing, many states outlawed the art. Tattooing had become synonymous with rebellion, gangs, dirty sailors, and motorcycles.
Today, centuries after the origination of Tattoos they are becoming less taboo and more accepted as cleaner, more professional shops open up and the artistic boundaries are pushed with the medium of Tattoo art. Also, the advances in color and other Tattoo equipment have made Tattoos more than just a symbol or a testimony, but a real piece of art on skin.
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