welcome. . . to Pigment the fanlisting for the addictive hobby of tattoos. A tattoo is a form of body modification, made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattooing has been practiced for centuries in many cultures and spread throughout the world. The oldest evidence of extant tattooing on preserved skin dates to 6000 BC on the a South American Chinchorro mummy; archaeological specimens that date back as much as 60,000 years may represent tattoo tools. The Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan, traditionally had facial tattoos, as did the Austroasians. Today, one can find Atayal, Seediq, Truku, and Saisiyat of Taiwan, Berbers of Tamazgha (North Africa), Yoruba, Fulani and Hausa people of Nigeria, and Māori of New Zealand with facial tattoos. Tattooing was popular among certain ethnic groups in southern China, Polynesia, Africa, Borneo, Cambodia, Europe, Japan, the Mentawai Islands, MesoAmerica, New Zealand, North America and South America, the Philippines, Iron Age Britain, and Taiwan. It is a myth that the modern revival of tattooing stems from Captain James Cook's three voyages to the South Pacific in the late 1700s. Certainly, Cook's voyages and the dissemination of the texts and images from them brought more awareness about tattooing (and, as noted above, imported the word "tattow" into Western languages), but Europeans have gotten tattooed throughout history. On Cook's first voyage in 1768, his science officer and expedition botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, as well as artist Sydney Parkinson and many others of the crew, returned to England with tattoos, although many of these men would have had pre-existing tattoos. Banks was a highly regarded member of the English aristocracy and had acquired his position with Cook by putting up what was at the time the princely sum of some ten thousand pounds in the expedition. In turn, Cook brought back with him a tattooed Raiatean man, Omai, whom he presented to King George and the English Court. On subsequent voyages other crew members, from officers, such as American John Ledyard to ordinary seamen, got tattooed. As many tattoos were stimulated by Polynesian and Japanese examples, amateur tattoo artists were in great demand in port cities all over the world, especially by European and American sailors. The first documented professional tattoo artist in the US was Martin Hildebrandt, a German immigrant who arrived in Boston in 1846. Between 1861 and 1865, he tattooed soldiers on both sides in the American Civil War. The first documented professional tattooist in Britain was established in the port of Liverpool in the 1870s. In Britain tattooing was still largely associated with sailors and the lower or even criminal class, but by the 1870s had become fashionable among some members of the upper classes, including royalty, and in its upmarket form it could be an expensive and sometimes painful process. A marked class division on the acceptability of the practice continued for some time in Britain. Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of Western fashion, common among both sexes, to all economic classes, and to age groups from the later teen years to middle age. For many young Americans, the tattoo has taken on a decidedly different meaning than for previous generations. The tattoo has "undergone dramatic redefinition" and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of expression. In 2010, 25% of Australians under age 30 had tattoos.
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Last Updated: 16th May 2018
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