July 19, 2009
When most people hear the word “tattoo”, they generally think of bikers, rebels, and XVIII year-olds. Tattoos are undefined, express feelings and are a part of various cultures in everyday life. Although the tattoo today is thought to be the “cool” thing to do when turning XVIII, tattooing began with a rich history that spanned the globe.
The word tattoo comes from two different words. One of those words is ta and the other one is tatau. In Polynesian the word ta means striking something, and the word tatau means to mark something and that is exactly what tattooing is all about. Tattooing is a widely practiced method of body decoration where signs, symbols, and letters are applied to the body by puncturing the skin with a sharp instrument. Tattoos were created a variety of ways using several techniques. In order to create a tattoo, a society had to use what was readily available to them. For example, the Sioux women would draw a circle or line on skin with clay, punch the design into the skin with an awl and then rub blue clay over the wound. When the clay dried, it penetrated the holes of the skin. In California, natives would scratch the skin and rub charcoal dust or plant juice into the scratches. After natives came in contact with Europeans, gunpowder was dissolved in water and used in place of charcoal. These processes often took many days to complete. Finally, in 1876, Thomas Edison had unintentionally invented the first electric tattooing machine. It was originally supposed to be an electric engraver. It was years later when Samuel O Reilly, using Edison’s original blueprints, created the first electric pen. Today, these techniques are simplified by an electric tattooing machine.
Tattoos are thought to have existed since the beginning of humankind. In Austria, a tattoo was discovered on a man frozen in a glacier; he was dated back to 4000 B.C. (Goldberg 2001) Humans...