5,300-year-old Tattoos – and Ancient Meanings
The oldest tattoo found on human skin is dated somewhere between 3370-3100 BC, and was discovered on a man preserved in ice on the Italian-Austrian border. The tattoo is probably made from ash or soot and according to experts, it is somehow connected to acupuncture points on the body.
Since then, tattooing has evolved a lot both in cultural and spiritual manifestation. Nowadays, people choose tattoos with personal significance, but many people use their body as a canvas for a host of tattoos that look nice but don’t mean a lot.
Who are you?
With social sites taking so much of our time every day, people are facing the “Who are you?” question many times during the day, especially in the moments before writing a Facebook status or posting an update on Twitter. Every person thinks about how that tweet or status will reflect on them before posting it online. The same thing applies to tattoos. They are not only a mirror of who we are – they are also an anchor which reminds us of that fact.
Tattoos were introduced in America so US sailors could avoid being forcibly entered to the British Royal Navy after the American Revolution. These sailors were recruited against their will, even when they had protection papers, and were tattooed in order to stay safe.
The 70s and 80s saw tattoos being used as a symbol of membership to various subcultures, but lately, tattoos have become accepted into the mainstream mainly due to the internet. Nowadays, people are more likely to get tattooed and are proud to show off their piece of art to friends and strangers both.
Tattoos and identity
With the tattoo design evolving over the years, so has their significance. Tattoos are now closely linked to identity, and as such, they can be very complex. About 20% of all Americans have tattoos, which is why it’s becoming increasingly hard to be unique. In order to fix your identity and differ from the crowd, your tattoo must be original and exclusive.
According to studies, tattoos are an anchor central to most people’s justifications. Many people and their common tattoos can get lost in the big world. Anne Velliquette, a professor from the University of Arkansas who studies pop culture and consumer behavior, says that tattoos are “cement[ing] aspects of their current selves.” Tattoos act almost like a “time capsule” for a specific moment in that person’s life. One might even think of it as a “personality capsule.”
The pain caused by the process adds even more significance of having a tattoo. The process of getting inked is almost like a rite of passage and calls for respect. For millennia, tattoos have been used as a part of passage ceremonies which marks a person in a unique way.
Are tattoos for you?
The meaning behind a tattoo is subjective and down to the person who gets inked. You may want your tattoo to have a deep spiritual meaning, or just get a work of art that you will proudly show off to the public. It’s entirely up to you.