Tattoo or not to tattoo-A A +A
To Your Health
Friday, October 4, 2013
A YOUTHFUL spur-of-the-moment decision to get a tattoo can damage career prospects for life or may give the person a legacy of lifelong debilitating incurable disease. Before our dear readers get polarized into the pros (favoring tattoo) and cons (against tattoo), let's set aside emotions and go back in time and trace the origins of this artistry, or cultural diversity, as some anthropologists love to call it.
The oldest tattoo on record belongs to the so-called "Otzi" which according to Jason Gagliari is the "Ice man sprung from the Austrian glacier who got his first ink 5,000 years ago. Minimal must have been in vogue since his tattoos are mostly multiple sets of parallel lines. It is really the Egyptians who got the ink flowing all over Asia.
Mummies dating back past 2000 B.C. sport the curious Morse-like dots and dashes of ancient Egyptian art.
The Ainu tribe is thought to have taken tattooing back to Japan, where in typical style, the Japanese perfected it. In Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar, elements of Buddhism, Hinduism and animism were conflated and tattoos grew in stature as sacred markings with special powers. The practice plus the strong religious or spiritual value attached to it quickly spread into China along the Silk Road, splintering into myriad styles and sects.
The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word "tatau" which Captain James Cook overheard it as he passed by Polynesia and quickly anglicized it. Cook returned to England and news of the strange, painful practice spread. By the mid-18th century, every port had a tattoo parlor. In 1862, the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, was inked with a Jerusalem cross on his arms. Of course, not to be left behind, the British aristocracy adopted the practice with passion.
Since then, a tattoo is worn as an amulet, a sign of power or authority, conferring supernatural protection. Tattoo artists advise would-be tattoo wearers should use common sense, sober reflection and the location because you will have it for life and it will die with you. That is the bittersweet sadness of the art. And there is the reality that tattoos hurt. There will be blood, probably not much. But that little superficial pricking may just put the person into a state of mind which he can’t reverse - with sad consequences.
Next Week. The medical and social implications of tattoos
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 05, 2013.