A SEMINAR PAPER ON SIGNIFICANCE OF TATTOO ART TO GLOBAL ART
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page – – – – – – – – – i
Declaration – – – – – – – – ii
Certification – – – – – – – – iii
Approval Page – – – – – – – – iv
Dedication – – – – – – – – – v
Acknowledgements – – – – – – – vi
Table of Contents – – – – – – – vii
Abstract – – – – – – – – – xi
Introduction – – – – – – – – 1
History of Tattoo – – – – – – – 2
History of African Tattoos – – – – – – 3
Cultural Significance of Tattoos – – – – – 7
Samoan Tattoos – – – – – – – – 7
Maori Tattoos – – – – – – – – 10
Mandala Tattoos – – – – – – – 12
Henna – – – – – – – – – 14
Nigerian Tattoos – – – – – – – 17
Positive and Negative Impact of Tattoos – – – 22
Positive Impact – – – – – – – – 22
The Experience of Bonding – – – – – – 23
Negative Impact of Tattoos – – – – – – 24
Tattoo Artists that Influence Art (Painting) – – – 30
Influence of Tattoos on Fashion – – – – – 35
Conclusion – – – – – – – – 37
Recommendations – – – – – – – 37
Works Cited – – – – – – – – 38
Tattoo is a visual language of the skin where by culture is inscribed, experienced and preserved in a myriad of specific ways. The embellishing aspect of tattoos has been given prominence over the years with less emphasis on the historical cultures where they are from. Due to the rise of religious and moral instigation against tattoos, in Nigeria, tattoo art is declining among the relative younger generation in Nigeria. This paper is aimed at documenting the tattoo cultures and it significance to global art. Sources or data include secondary sources from journals, books, websites etc. Findings shows that tattoo art had existed in various cultures and can be beneficial to artist practice in the case of body art.
Keyword: Tattoos, Tattooing, Samoan, Maori, Henna, Mandala.
A tattoo is a mark made by inserting pigment into the skin, in technical terms, tattooing is Marco-pigment implantation; tattoos may be made on human or animal skin (Smith, Mark p.2). Tattooing his been a nearly ubiquitous human practice. The Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, wore facial tattoos. Tattooing was widespread among Polynesian peoples, and in the Philippines, Borneo, African, North American, South America, Europe, Japan and China, despite some tattoos surrounding tattooing the art continues to be popular all over the world. However, there truly is an extremely colorful tattooing past within the world.
Terms: the word “tattoo” comes from a Polynesian word and was first described by Captain Cook in 1969. The art form was named for the tapping noise made by a tattoo tool on the skin, which in the native tongue was “Tatau” or “Tatu”. The Polynesian word, “’Ta’ means striking something, and the Tahitian word, “’Tatau’” means to mark something (Gilbert, Steve p. 3). A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design, is made by inserting ink, dyes and pigments either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattooing is a very old tradition and today it is more popular and socially acceptable than ever.
History of Tattoo:
Tattoos may be regarded as an act of rebellion against but that is only one of the many reasons why people wear and still wear tattoos. The first tattoos probably were created by accident; someone had a small wound, and rubbed it with a hand that was dirty with soot and ashes from the fire. Once the wound had healed, they saw that a marked stayed permanently. Tattooing has been practiced across the globe since the Neolithic times, as evidenced by mummified preserved skin; ancient art and archeologist finds of possible tattoo tools suggest tattooing was practiced by the upper Paleolithic period in Europe. These tools are at least 12,000 years old and were used for tattooing.
The oldest discovery of tattoos human skin to date is found in the body of “Otzi the iceman”, dating between 3370 and 3100BC. In 1991, a five thousand years old tattooed man, “Otzi”” the iceman made the headline of the newspaper all over the world when his frozen body was discovered on a mountain between Austria and Italy. This frozen mummy had markings on his spine, knees, and ankles (Smithsonian Mag, 2007 p 14). This is the best preserved corpse of that period ever found. The skin bears 51 tattoos; a cross on the inside of the left knee, six straight lines 15 centimeters long above the kidneys and numerous parable lines on the ankles. The position of the tattoo marks suggest that they were probably applied for therapeutic reasons (treatment of arthritis).
History of African Tattoos:
Tattoos have been in existence for a long time. Proof of the very first African tattoo was found in the year 1994 BC and was found on a mummy. However, it is estimated that there are other tattoos that date back to the 2000 BC. It was believed these tattoos could have symbolized and represented rejuvenation and fertility in women (Gilbert, p. 67).The first evidence of tattoos leads back to the mummies in Egypt. The oldest tattoo was found on the mummy of Amunet, a priestess of the Goddess, Hathor, during 2160-1994 BC. The mummy’s simple tattoos were parallel lines on her arms, legs, and an elliptical pattern below her navel. Interestingly, no male mummies found in Egypt had their body adorned with tattoos. Egyptologists, today, are of the opinion that these designs symbolized fertility and rejuvenation in women. However, male mummies that have been found in other parts of Africa, such as Libya, have tattoos of images relating to sun worship, on their body.
In the tomb of Seti I, dating back to 1300 BC, tattoos symbolizing Neith, a Fierce Goddess, who led warriors into battle, were found on men. The first known tattoo of a person was discovered on Nubian female mummies, dating to 400 BC. The tattoo image portrayed the God of Sex and overseer of orgies, ‘Bes’. These tattoos were predictably very simple in design. They consisted of pairs of straight lines on the arms and legs of the priestess and also included an elliptical pattern beneath the navel (belly button) area, (Bianch 1988, Tassle 2003, Gilbert 2000). For many thousands of years tattoos were seen as a way of curing disease, protecting against spirit, showing affliction towards certain groups/tribes and reflecting personality traits as a bravery, courage and social status. Excavations of the tomb of “Seti” uncovered the body of men with tattoos that are predicted to symbolize Neith, the goddess who fiercely led warriors into battle. These example dates back to around1300BC.
Although it appears that tattooing culture as we know it never gained any noticeable historical attention in the sub-Sahara, it was found that small groups of indigenous people from these religious did practice a form of body modification or tattoo called scarification. While contemporary tattoos involve puncturing the skin for inserting pigment, Cicatrisation involves cutting the skin severely to create wounds, which results in a decorative pattern of scar tissue.
The process of scarification involved using a sharp instrument to cut the skin over the area. In ancient Africa culture, signification which dates back thousands of years ago, and is considered to be a long and very painful ordeal. As a rite of passage both the male and female gender are given tattoos in to signify their transition into adulthood (fisher 2000).
Another form of early body ornamentation was ‘cicatrisation’. The word “Cicatrisation” was derived from the French word, cicatrices, which mean ‘scar’. This form of body ornamentation was common among the darker-skinned people of Africa so that their original colour of skin would not show.
This popular technique for scarring involves piercing the skin and then, rubbing the wound with ash. The latter step is primarily done to inflame the skin, which later heals to form a raised scar. This process used to be carried out on young boys who were about to hit puberty. It was continued until they entered the adulthood. Each tribe had its own individualistic style. African tribes are still seen with tattoos on their body. Available in different designs and form. This helps them to recognize people of their group and also those that belong to other groups.
Cultural Significance of Tattoos:
Tattoos have been and are still a big part of many of this day, and many people have one or more tattoos on their bodies. Many different cultures embrace tattoos, and they can bear different meanings in fact, it is quite easy sometimes to spot a person from a certain culture just because of design of their tattoos or where their tattoos have rich cultural history which explained below;
The Samoan tattoo, or “Tatau” as it is known traditionally, is deeply tied into the culture of Samoan. It is done as a source of pride in their heritage and culture. To be offered the chance to be tattooed for young Samoan is very high honor. A Samoan tattoo is traditionally done with a tattoo comb, and Samoan tattoos are done by placing a tattoos comb on the end of the stick, dipping the stick into the tattoo ink, placing the comb against the skin, and hitting the stick with a mallet to force the ink into the skin (DeMello, p. 234).
In the Samoan culture tattoos differ in design from men to women. Men’s tattoos are symmetrical and chunky, with several blocks and lines being drawn on their knees to their waist, and often included a boat that “symbolizes the ocean, voyage that bought the original people to Samoa and carried their ancestors to lands beyond the horizon” (DeMello p. 235). These tattoos are called “pea”. Women have their tattoos drawn from their knees to the upper thigh and their designs are called “Malu”, these tend to be more intricate than those of the men. Tattoos in Samoa are given using just plan black ink with special handmade tools. The tattooing ceremonies of young chiefs, typically conducted at the onset of puberty were elaborate affairs and were a key part of the ascendance to a leadership role. The key word there is “endurance” by all accounts, the possibility of infection was high, the pain was extreme and the risk of death by infection was a great concern. But to shy away from tattooing was to risk being labeled a palaiai or a coward and reviled by the claim. Those who could not endure the pain and abandoned their tattooing were left incomplete, wearing the mark of shame throughout their life. Clearly there was a little more at stake than simply leaving the tattooing half finished.
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