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The story and meaning behind 10 classic tattoo styles

Tattoos have been around for a long time. The earliest direct evidence we have of them comes from the 5300-year-old Otzi of the Iceman whose remains were discovered accidentally in 1991 by a group of hikers in the Italian Alps. Archaeologists believe that tattooing has taken place since the Neolithic, probably even earlier. From various remote islands in the Arctic Circle to China, Africa and Polynesia, tattooing has become an integral cultural part of society.

These permanent markings on the human body, sometimes simple and sometimes exquisite, were used either as talismans, status symbols, wards, or even as a form of punishment for the wearer. Here we will look at some of these tattoos (old and new) and understand what they actually stand for.

0th Sailor Tattoos

It is widely believed that European sailors developed their own tattoo style after Captain Cook's famous voyages across the Pacific in the 18th century. This theory is also reinforced in part by the fact that the word itself comes from the Tahitian and Samoan Tatau which means something in the nature of signs on skin that Europeans had no specific Word for this practice, they used others to describe them – words such as stinging or staining . After meeting the heavily tattooed Polynesian peoples, the sailors began to create their own unique style. Even their tattoos were heavily influenced by the famous sailor superstition with various designs that depicted things bringing good luck to the sea. Other designs, however, stood for various achievements in the often dangerous life of a sailor.

The anchor, for example, stands for a sailor who crosses the Atlantic. A swallow, on the other hand, means 5,000 nautical miles. A Tortoise means to cross the equator, while crossed cannons represent a veteran on a military ship. Nautical stars are talismans that guarantee a safe journey, while a full-rigged ship means a sailor who was in South America near Cape Horn.

. 9 Polynesian Tattoos

Polynesia is located in the Central and South Pacific and comprises about 1000 islands. Many of them have been inhabited by various groups of people, collectively known as Polynesians, sharing a common ancestry, similar language, customs, and beliefs. Before encountering the Europeans, these peoples had no written language, but they used tattoos to express themselves. This practice was so common among the Polynesians, especially the Samoans, the Tongeren, and the Marquesas, that almost everyone in the community had them. These permanent markers were of tremendous importance, indicating the status of the carrier within that society and their warfare capabilities.

Rooted in their own religious beliefs, the different parts of the body also have their own meaning. And in combination with different tattoos, each person became a canvas that tells an individual story. The head stands for wisdom, knowledge and intuition; the chest is associated with honor, sincerity and generosity; the shoulders and upper arms indicate strength and bravery; the lower trunk, which extends from the navel to the thighs, shows courage, independence, sexuality and reproduction; while the forearms and hands are related to creativity and craftsmanship.

For the actual tattoos the Polynesians used various stylized designs of objects and creatures that saw them around them. Shark teeth, for example, stand for protection, strength and leadership. The stingray is a symbol of protection, speed, agility and stealth. The ocean (often represented by a series of waves) means life, change and rebirth. The tiki is a representation of a dead relative or chief who became a demigod and symbolized protection and fertility. Tiki eyes are a symbol of resistance to enemies. The turtle is a symbol of longevity, health, unity and family, while lizards are a good or bad luck charm depending on the circumstances.

. 8 Maori Tattoos

Although the Maori who are native to New Zealand are part of the Polynesian group of people, their tattoo style differs significantly from the others. Unlike the others, the Maori developed their own technique, known as Ta moko which is strongly rooted in local mythology and is associated with the region's many geological features. Similar to the many earthquakes and volcanoes that scarred the land, Ta moko also leaves lasting traces on the human body. While the other Polynesians used certain tools that pierced the skin and applied the ink, the Maori used tiny chisels that literally cut through the person's face and body, leaving grooves on a smooth surface instead. And since the head was considered the holiest part of the body, the face received the most attention.

Each of these tattoos was [196590000] unique to the wearer and conveyed heritage, genealogy, social status, and knowledge. All symbols had a certain meaning and so did the area of ​​the face in which they were carved. The checks marked the profession of this person; the chin meant prestige; the jaw represented the birth status; the forehead denotes rank; the area around the temples meant marital status; the area around the eyes and nose referred to the trunk; while the upper lip was used for the personal signature of the person.

. 7 Chinese Tattoos

It would be wrong to regard China as a homogeneous country with the same culture, tradition and even the whole language. When it comes to tattooing, the general attitude in modern and ancient China has been linked to convicts, slaves, bandits, and the criminal underworld. However, China is a pretty big place and not all regions are the same. It seems that the southern part of the country is historically more open to this art form and does not have that much negative stigma. There are also several tribes within China that have adopted the practice over the centuries.

For example, the Dulong people have a history of tattooing that goes back about 350 years. When attacked by neighboring tribes, the women tattooed their faces as a means to become uglier and escape slavery. On the other hand, the Dai people tattoo much of their hands, arms and backs – and each of these body parts, as well as the tattoos, have a special meaning. Their tattoos should have protective power, increase their attractiveness, improve their intelligence and strength, and even cure illnesses. However, as a Westerner, it is important to research thoroughly before receiving a Chinese Tattoo to make sure it is the right one or that it has a positive connotation. [19659005] 6. Irish Tattoos

Tattoos in Europe were pushed underground during the Middle Ages with the rise of Christianity on the continent – mainly because they were linked to earlier pagan beliefs. And that was largely the case, as many European tribes such as the Celts, Teutons, Vikings and Picts were heavily tattooed or painted. Many of her designs were inspired by the surrounding nature and mentioned by some of the people addressed. But no detailed examples remain – unless you consider the various stone monuments or other objects from that period. Nevertheless the Irish seem to have been the primary heirs of this ancient European tradition.

The Celtic Tree of Life is deeply rooted in Druidic practices and is intended to be a bridge between worlds [196592002] The Dara Node or Oak Tree Node in Gaelic, represents a complicated root system and stands as a reminder of great strength and power Stability in the face of adversity. The salmon is considered a symbol of wisdom, introspection and deep knowledge. The bird stands for freedom and liberation, while the butterfly stands for transformation, rebirth and rest. Probably the most famous is the Celtic cross. It is not clear exactly where it originally came from, but it is believed to have happened during the 9th century. There is also the conviction that St. Patrick's design came through the combination of the Christian cross with local artistic motifs as a means of Christianizing Ireland.

. 5 Russian Crime Tattoos

Trademark criminals were a common practice across Russia until their prohibition in 1863. These marks were usually applied to the cheeks, forehead or shoulders and they were used to indicate their crimes and punishments. Since the 1930s, various criminal castes have emerged, such as the so-called Suits or Authoritative Thieves each with their own tattoos denoting affiliation, rank and reputation. Embezzlement was considered a great transgression and could be punished with death. The prisoner could also allow him to remove himself using a knife, sandpaper or a piece of broken glass. After the Second World War and the introduction of the Gulag system under the Soviets, the number of political prisoners and petty criminals soared, resulting in a much larger version of the designs

These Russian criminal tattoos [19659003] have evolved over time, taken on new meanings or added new designs. Among these we have the stars that show a high rank. The fly is forcibly attached to pickpockets that have broken the code of thieves. A snake around the neck means drug addiction. A lighthouse or birds on the horizon mean a desire for freedom. A pair of eyes on the belly or buttocks indicates homosexuality, but when it's on the chest, it means "I'm watching you." A church on the chest indicates a thief, and the number of domes it has equals the number of beliefs. A rose on the chest means that the woman in prison has turned 18, while a skull and bones indicate life in prison. The hooded executioner is carried by someone who has killed a relative, while the mermaid refers to child abuse in this context

4. Japanese Tattoos

Japan had a pretty up and down history with tattoos. Archaeological evidence indicates that tattoos were used as early as the Paleolithic. Chinese documents from around 300 AD Also mention that the Japanese used them as a means of differentiating social status. But after that time, tattoos began to have mostly negative connotations and were used predominantly as a kind of criminal blame for criminals. It was not until the Edo period (1600-1868 AD) that today's form of Japanese tattoos developed.

It was through the iconic Japanese art of woodcut printing that tattooing was also developed on land – and with the same tools, no less. As a result, these tattoos are not individual designs with different meanings, but rather large and elaborate scenes inspired by philosophical or mythological stories found in plays, novels or historical texts. It was also common for the tattoo artist to choose which scenes to paint.

However, the art form was considered barbaric and disrespectful in 1868. It was later legalized in 1948, but it stuck to much of the stigma. Japanese tattoos are thus closely linked to the criminal underworld, especially the yakuza (Japanese mafia). Tattooing is extremely rare in Japan, most are located near tourist areas or near American military bases. In 2012 the mayor of Osaka launched a campaign in which government employees are not allowed to have any visible tattoos. Most public swimming pools and bathhouses forbid people with tattoos or ask people to cover them up.

. 3 Thai Tattoos

Traditional tattooing in Thailand is believed to have been established with the Khmer Empire sometime during the ninth th AD. Known as Sak Yant this centuries-old tradition is a mixture of Buddhism, Hinduism, shamanistic spells and ancient myths that have become a ritual of the present over the centuries developed by monks in temples was the country. The powers that these tattoos are supposed to give the wearer come not only from the designs themselves, but also from the ongoing prayers that were presented throughout the process. The tool used is a 3-foot long bamboo rod with a metal needle at the end, which the monk uses much like a pool cue. There are hundreds of traditional designs many of which represent animals such as tigers, dragons, snakes, leopards or phoenixes. However, all are surrounded by the corresponding mantras and yantras to give them the appropriate powers.

Also, the placement on the body is of great importance. The Thai believe that the soul is in the head, and the closer the tattoo is to the head, the stronger it gets. Some tattoos, such as Buddha or Lotus, should bring good luck and keep evil spirits away. A tattoo directly on the scalp should & # 39; overflow your head with blessings to protect your soul. & # 39; To improve your self-confidence and speaking skills, you need a Golden-Tongued Bird Tattoo This is applied directly to the tongue and it is said to be extremely painful. The tiger is usually found on the lower back, because it is from here that his spirit takes your life in hand.

. 2 American Gang Tattoos

The United States prison system has the largest number of people per capita in the world and also hosts members of some of the most dangerous gangs on the planet. We will not be able to talk about each of these gangs individually, but instead focus on some of the most common gang or prison tattoos . The teardrop tattoo, for example, mainly indicates that the carrier is killing someone or spending time in jail.

The spider web represents a long prison sentence. Three points, either on the hand or on the face, indicate the gangs' way of life. Five points, however, mean that time is spent in jail, with four points representing the walls, while the fifth is the prisoner. A watch without hands also stands for "make time". The clown mask stands for such proverbs as "play now, pay later" or "smile now, cry later." The eighth is bad luck. The number 88 stands for "Heil Hitler" – since H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. A gravestone with a number inside indicates the number of years behind bars. However, most other tattoos are different designs or abbreviations for their own name and logo of each gear.

. 1 Old and New School Tattoos

On the whole, Old School Tattoos are those with bold black outlines, limited color palette, and defined by a particular imagery. Among the designs we find the iconic patriotic tattoos such as the American flag, the eagle, the heart and the dagger as well as the already mentioned sailor tattoos . These designs were deliberately kept simple to accommodate more customers.

New School Tattoos probably began sometime in the 1970s or later and incorporated pop culture elements such as movie stars, Disney characters, Star Trek Tech, and comic art. Unlike the old way of tattooing, this style is characterized by vibrant colors, caricatures and the inclusion of many other elements from various other tattoo styles from around the world. Nonetheless, the legacy of the old school is still visible, especially in the use of solid black outlines.

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