Free Essay

Body Art

In: English and Literature

Submitted By nyine
Words 1003
Pages 5
Body Art: Tattoo

Tattooing is a form of body art that allows people to express various forms of meanings and messages. Body art, in general, is a “visual language” that can demonstrate accomplishments, display desires and memories, and serve as an identity to exhibit a person’s status in society (Schildkrout 107). However, tattooing can often be misinterpreted and misunderstood, leaving either negative or positive perspectives upon the person that is tattooed. According to Enid Schildkrout, an anthropologist who examined the diverse cultural meanings of body art, body art is “not just the latest fashion”. Rather it is a way of expressing “individuality, social status, and cultural identity”. Tattooing is used in different groups and cultures, and is also processed using different techniques. In Body Art as Visual Language, it is stated that the Japanese would work by hand by using a collection of needles set in a wooden handle. In Polynesian culture, tattooist would pierce the skin with a hammer-like instrument to mark the body.
Steve Gilbert published a collection of historical records of tattooing throughout the world from ancient to present times. He states that in New Zealand, people practice Moko, which was a unique form of decorating the face with “intricate spirals that were incised into the skin to make scars in the form of parallel ridges and grooves” (67). Creating these marked ridges and groove features required the instrument to “penetrate deeply into the flesh” and sometimes cuts were “so deep that they went through the cheek” (67).Te Awekotuku, an essayist and commentator on Maori and feminist issues in New Zealand, describestattooing traditions and their meaning in Maori culture and her memories growing up. She recalls admiring the common chin pattern, as a child, known as Kauae. More than 50 years later, she had her body marked with a Maori traditional tattoo to commemorate a late Maori Queen (BBC.co.uk). She states that tattoos are about “beauty and belonging” in the Maori culture and it is “more than skin deep” (BBC.co.uk). Since the advancement in technology, tattooists have been capable of “expanding the range of possible designs, the colors available and the ease with which a tattoo can be applied to the body”. In Western culture, tattoos can have either a negative or positive effect on the individual. Some negative outcomes of applying a tattoo on your body can be that it will fade throughout time. Also some people may regret it and outgrow it. Additionally, tattoos usually do not appear professional to society, and according to Schildkrout, it can become a “sign of rebellion from “coat and tie” culture”. Along with the negative aspects of tattooing, there are also positive motives behind getting a tattoo. Some people may get tattoos for religious and cultural rituals, which will symbolize their status or rank in their society and also “serve as a link to ancestors, deities, or spirits”. Furthermore, tattoos can also represent accomplishments and status within different groups such as gang members or cliques. People may also get tattoos to demonstrate “ideals of beauty” and it varies in different societies or people’s perspectives. In India, henna tattoo designs are applied to a bride to “emphasize her beauty” and also serve as “a shield to repel evil and bring good fortune”. In Tattoo History, tattoos in New Zealand also exhibit beauty and prestige. An “elegantly tattooed face was a great source of pride to a warrior” since it makes him appear fierce in battle and attractive to women (Gilbert 67). In my family only a couple of people have tattoos and they all have different meanings behind them. For example, my uncle has a tattoo of multiple flowers on his arm. Each flower on his arm represents one of his children. Personally I have a love/hate relationship with tattoos. I see tattoos as a way for someone to make themselves an individual or also turn their body into a work of art. On the other hand I feel tattoos could bring negative outcomes depending on the location of it. In my opinion tattoos located on the face are not acceptable and really don’t look good. I currently don’t have any tattoos but I am willing to get some in the future. I feel like a tattoo is a big commitment and is something that I have to be sure about because I don’t want to regret it later on in life.
Many people in society have tattoos. The meaning of tattoos varies from the person that beholds the tattoo and understands the underlying story or image. In Body Art as Visual Language, Schildkrout argues that tattoos encode memories, desires, and life histories. In western culture, tattoos can convey memories when people get tattoos of their family members that have passed away, important dates relating to specific memories, or even new editions to the family such as births or a new pet. Desires can be expressed by acquiring tattoos of money and money signs, jewels and gems, name brand logos, and adding fictional attributes to the body that really do not exist. Such as angel wings, tribal tattoos (even if you are not part of one) and cosmetic makeup tattoos. In different societies, people may obtain tattoos as a form of initiation into a group demonstrating devotion and courage, such as in Japanese full-body tattooing or Maori body and facial patterns. In Polynesian culture, tattoos “denote rank and political status” and have also been used to “define ethnic identity within Pacific island societies”. Tattoos are an “obvious way of signaling cultural differences” and the messages and meanings are only understood in the context of the culture. Tattoos are a medium that can be viewed as someone’s position in society and is always changing. This allows people to “reinvent themselves” and “challenge what is desirable, beauty, and appropriate”. A tattoo can be perceived as a way for people to either demonstrate rebellion, fashion statements, religious beliefs, personal experiences, or just be done to experiment with.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Body Art and Ornementation

...Seminar on River Valley Civilization of Chhatisgarh & New Research in Indian Archaeology.Raipur,C.G. p.227 to 244 CULTURAL ASPECTS OF THE TRIBAL ART IN CENTRAL INDIA: A CASE OF THE BODY DECORATION OF THE BAIGA TRIBE Dr. Basanta Kumar Mohanta1 Dr. Mohan Lal Chadhar2 Abstract The tribal arts, crafts and architectures are one of the most fascinating parts of their culture. The knowledge of this art is a hereditary one which transmits from generation to generation through oral tradition. The art of tattooing or body decoration is widely found among the tribal of India in general and the tribals of Central India in particular, which is treated as an integral part of their life and culture. Baiga is one of the Particularly Venerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) of Central India, known for their traditional method of treatment and shifting cultivation. They live in a particular forested area of Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh, identified as “Baigachawk” and its neighbouring area. Both the male and female Baigas are very fond of body decoration. Besides, the female members like to decorate their body with different kinds of tattoos, known as Godna. Each of these tattoos has a specific cultural significance and tattooed at a particular age and a specific location of the body. It is related to their religion, belief system, health care practice, body decoration, social status, wealth etc. In this present paper an emphasis has been given on the importance of tattoo in the tribal......

Words: 3531 - Pages: 15

Free Essay

Body Art and Ornamentation

...Body Art and Ornamentation: Different Cultures Angel Torres ANT 101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Dr. Marissa Kesel June 29, 2014 Body Art and Ornamentation: Different Cultures For centuries, body art and ornamentation haves been in existence in many cultures around the world with each piece of art on the body having a symbolic meaning to one’s particular culture. Culture, as defined by Richley Crapo, is “a learned system of beliefs, feelings, and rules for living around which a group of people organize their lives; a way of life of a particular society” (Crapo, 2013). Some of these forms of body art that cultures represent consist of tattooing, piercing, painting, shaping, and scarring, all of which communicated a visual language to their people. Body art has significance within each culture that may translate as a relationship with their ancestors or peers, a protection against evil or a meaning of good luck, and an expression as someone’s status of individuality. Decorating the body until present day is a way of communicating. In some way it sends a perception to others who you are and to which group you may be a part of. Every society has many different forms of expressing body art used by people. A person’s body art can represent their beliefs, gender, power, and hierarchy. Decoration of the body to some may seem more attractive to people when displayed in a certain part of their body. For the purpose of this paper, body art of two different......

Words: 1768 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

Body Art and Ornamentation Across Cultures

...Body Art and Ornamentation across Cultures Sheryl Strickland ANT 101 Dr. Cynthia Livingston 08/05/2013 Body Art and Ornamentation across Cultures The skin has been a canvas for human expression for centuries. As a result, body art and ornamentation have been a source of interest among anthropologists beginning as early as the 1900’s, and gaining a strong foothold during the 1970’s. “Inscribed skin highlights an issue that has been central to anthropology since its inception: the question of boundaries between the individual and society, between societies, and between representations and experiences” (Schildkrout, 2004). Through anthropological research, we have learned that many cultures worldwide use forms of body art and ornamentation such as scarification, tattooing (permanent and nonpermanent), and piercings for a variety of reasons, ranging from ceremonial religious rituals to tribal identification purposes. The process of body art and ornamentation signifies a figurative death and rebirth that typically involves a painful experience as a means to encourage an individual’s self-discovery, as well as establishing his/her place in society. For the purpose of this paper, I will explore the various aspects of body art and ornamentation across three specific cultures- the Yoruba’s of West Africa, the Samoan’s of the Pacific Islands, and the Hindu’s of India. Throughout the history of African culture, anthropologists have noted a wide variety of body markings among......

Words: 2364 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Body Art Across the Globe

...Body Art across the Globe In this paper I will be discussing the differences in body art and ornamentation within three different cultures across the world. Each culture has a different way of defining their body art, whether it is with body paints, scarification, body piercing, body shaping, or tattooing. Each culture has different reasons and different ways of celebrating life, death, and aging within their tribe or group, each with a specific rite or traditional way of going about it. The cultures I will be going into are the culture of the Paduang women of Thailand, African tradition of scarification and the Polynesian style tattooing practiced among Samoan and Hawaiian cultures. In a small village just within the Thailand border, there is a group of women known as the Paduang celebrate their culture by wearing what modern western society would consider being bondage rings. Our society calls it neck-stretching but in reality what they are doing is placing brass rings around their neck from early ages such as 5 years old which push the collar bone and shoulders down to make their neck elongated looking. The custom involves adding an extra ring to their next every two years or so (Padaung Woman, 2013). Neck rings appeal to the men in their tribe and men in their tribes prefer to only marry women with neck rings. These neck rings often show status among their peers, however, it is estimated that in the next few generations that the practice will die out as more mothers......

Words: 898 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Body Art Persuasive Essay

...Body art has been around for many centuries and over time it has developed into a way to express oneself. From tattoos to piercings, to even more extreme fashion like cosmetic surgery, body art sure has became a creative way for people to make a new identity for themselves. In my opinion, body art should not be practiced unless their culture or beliefs are the ideal reason or if they take a course in body modification just so they acknowledge the risk and complications that come with procedures so drastic and that are unnecessary if it is just for pleasure. Before you make that appointment to get your tattoo that you have been wanting so bad for the longest time, just think about the placement first of all. Where would you be receiving this...

Words: 951 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

The Cultural Art of Body Art

...For a long time now body art and decoration has been a custom in many cultural groups. Through research we have learned about the different types of body art and ornamentation such as permanent and nonpermanent tattooing, scarification, and piercings. These forms of body art and ornamentation are done for a variety of reasons, ranging from identification purposes to religious rituals. “Skin, as a visible way of defining individual identity and cultural difference, is not only a highly elaborated preoccupation in many cultures; it is also the subject of wide-ranging and evolving scholarly discourse in the humanities and social sciences” (Schildkrout, 2004). The process of ornamentation and body art is usually a painful experience, but it is a way to signify a person’s self-discovery and their place in society. In this paper, I will explore the different aspects of body art and ornamentation in two different cultures; the Maori people of New Zealand and the Yoruba’s of West Africa and explain the cultural importance of their art. Throughout West Africa it is not uncommon to come across people that have scar stripe patterns on their cheeks. The facial stripes that they wear are not produced by paint or tattoos, like many other cultures, but only by scarification. However, in his article, Orie explains that not all of the Yoruba people have the facial stripes. Okola is a term used for describing someone whose face is scarred, it means ‘the one with facial stripes’. People......

Words: 1417 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Tattoo

...Nubia, the women’s tattoos (or mentenu) were blackish blue and were likely applied with a pricking instrument with one or more fish bones set into a wooden handle. The most famous tattooed mummy is the beautiful Amunet, a priestess of the goddess of Hathor at Thebes, who was tattooed with several lines and dots in geometric patterns. A second female mummy, who appears to be a dancer, also exhibits similar patterns as well as a cicatrix pattern over the low pubic region. Several figurines from the Middle Kingdom known as the “Brides of Death” also display similar geometric patterns (Jones 2000). Though Egyptian tattoos have been found on only female mummies, designs which seem to represent tattoos are seen on both men and women in Egyptian art, suggesting tattoos were not restricted to women. While tattooing sprung up independently around the globe, the significant Egyptian influence also helped spread the practice. Ancient Greece and Rome: Tattoos as Marks of Ownership and Criminality The Greeks learned tattooing from the Persians who, as Herodotus informs us, would tattoo slaves, prisoners of war, and even Hellespont with the name or mark of Xerxes. While tattoos sometimes served as a way to transmit secret messages across enemy lines, Herodotus notes that the Greeks typically associated voluntary tattooing with barbarians, such as the Thracian (Maenads) women who were believed to have murdered Orpheus for his homosexual interest in their husbands. Herodotus was the......

Words: 2214 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Ink Tattoos

...1. Give an outline of the different views on ink tattoos presented in the texts. “When, for example, does tattooing become self-mutilation?” This quote is taken from text 1 by Andy Carrington who’s a poet and writer. In 2012 he published this text “Is Tattooing a Form of Self-Mutilation?” through his personal website. The question is: Does tattooing mean self-mutilation at all? It depends how you turn the perspective. Andy Carrington has a majority of tattoos, since he wrote “I will confess I chose to have a majority of my tattoos done to alleviate my boredom”. His opinion is that people are more self-destructive if they have tattoos. This text focuses on how your identity changes on the number of tattoos you have printed on their body. “Job-seekers all over the world are finding that their tats may be costing them a job opportunity.” This quote is taken from text 2 by Brendan O’Neill who is an editor of the online magazine Spiked Online. In 2014 he published this text “Tattoos were once a sign of rebellion – now they are evidence of craven conformity to cultural norms” as a blog post from the website of the British newspaper The Telegraph. It’s a normal mentality that people have prejudice for tattooed humans. Normally the job-seekers gets a rejection because of their visible tattoos. But why? Just because you were under the needle for a few hours it doesn’t mean that your personality is changed? Following to the Japanese mayor of the city Osaka, he says: “If they...

Words: 866 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Historical Body of Art

...Historical Body of Art "Tattooing" James M. McDermott COM/150 March 21, 2010 Comfort Ugwuh Historical Body of Art "Tattooing" In 1936, Life Magazine provided information from an independent study showing approximately 6% of the nation's population had a tattoo; the Harris Poll conducted in 2003 showed that approximately 15% of the population had acquired tattoos (Swan, 2006). A similar study in 2005 revealed approximately 24% of the population then had at least one tattoo (Ford, 2010). Those two studies revealed statistics that illustrate the number of people in the United States with tattoos increasing astronomically. In 67 years the number of people with tattoos increased 9%, in just two years between 2003 and 2005 the United Stated witnessed the number of individuals with tattoos increase another 9%. Tattoos are still gaining acknowledgment in society today; the number of people with tattoos is increasing exponentially with athletes, musicians, and actors ushering a wave of acceptance. Figure 1 Tattoos have been evident in societies and the human race for thousands of years. Scientists have uncovered Egyptian mummies evidently preserved in the period as early as 2000 BC, analysis revealed evidence of tattooing and other forms of body art on their mummified bodies. The Egyptian tattooing thought to be one of the earliest appearances of tattoos came into question in 1991 with the discovery of Iceman (Lineberry, 2007). A pair of hikers in the Austrian Otztal Alps......

Words: 1881 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Body Art and Ornamentation

...Equal Opportunities for Minorities in the Criminal Justice System Wendell Wrice English 122 English Composition II Prof. Deborah Zeringue October 7, 2013 For many Americans the scales of justice is blind. It stands as a symbol that everyone is treated fairly in the eyes of the law. Many Americans, especially minorities this is simply not the case. In fact the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world-five times the world’s average. A total of 2,380,000 are now in prison. The US has five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison population (Fisher, 2010).In fact minorities make up a large share of the prison population in the U.S. African Americans have a 32 percent chance of serving time in prison at some point of time in their lives, Hispanic males have a 17 percent chance, while white males a 6 percent chance (Fisher, 2010) . Such disproportions of incarceration rates gives reason to believe that minorities, especially African Americans commit the majority of crimes requiring incarceration or the fact that our justice system is flawed to the point where it singles out a specific racial or ethnic group. The question of why there are so many minorities especially African Americans being held in......

Words: 2104 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Lessons

...additional resources you use. 1. Yes they should be protected under nation’s employment laws because they are human just like everyone else. Just because you have tattoos don’t mean you shouldn’t have a job. 2. Employee’s may choose to have a dress code that requires that body art be covered because some tattoo’s display religious choices and derogatory things and everyone shouldn’t have to be subjected to that some tattoo’s may be offensive so you should cover them up to not offend anyone. The only jobs that should allow tattoo’s to be visible is a job that is not dealing with the public. 3. Yes because if he had the tattoos when he was hired and he didn’t acquire any new tattoos I don’t see what the problem was there wasn’t a problem when he was hired so what changed and he was covering them up so I don’t think it was because of customer complaints so on what merit did they have for firing him and why was he the only one targeted out, there was others with tattoos why weren’t they fired as well. No tattoos are all the same no matter if it’s on a man or a woman. Woman tattoos can be just as offensive as men sometimes even worse. 4. Yes I’ve worked with several people with piercings and body art and they are perceived just like any other person. They just are outwardly expressive and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t care how many tattoos a person has just as long as it doesn’t interfere with them doing their job. 5. Yes companies need to revise......

Words: 352 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

The Culture Of Tattooing

...Throughout history, there have been many forms of body modification. Body modification is the act of altering one’s physical appearance for self-expression, art and aesthetic, religious beliefs, or cultural traditions. Modifications can include hair cutting, ear piercings, nose piercings, body piercings, body painting, plastic surgery, circumcision, and tattooing. Tattooing is the process of creating a design by puncturing and inserting a pigment into the skin. Globally, tattooing has spread and become an integral part of many societies. Tattooing traditions, techniques, and methods vary from culture to culture. This ancient, traditional art form is rooted in Polynesian origins. The English word “tattoo” comes from the Tahitian word “tatau,” which roughly translates to “marking or striking something” and “to inflict wounds” (Arp, 2012). In Polynesian mythology, it was believed that humans learned this art from the gods. Tattooing then became a skill passed down from generation to generation. Artists, also known as “tufuga,” were highly trained males who taught their sons the responsibilities of traditional tattooing (Losch, 2003). Some...

Words: 1156 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Tattoo Culture and Influence in Society

...that started growing in America and Europe in the early '90s, tattooing soon became so popular that 36% of Americans aged 25-29 had at least one body tattoo by 2003(Julie Genser 2007).” However, tattoo could probably bring health risks to tattoo carrier. Historically, tattoo originally is the nation’s cultural and symbolic, different tattoo pictures have own meaning and even it is a symbol of authority. This paper will argue that the ink of tattoo injecting into our skin has lead to increase health risk. And then this paper will discuss why tattoo is so popular even it is harmful people’s health. Finally, the essay will discuss tattoo is not only a historical heritage, but also stimulates the development of the economy. Early Tattoo’s culture The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word tattau. It means "to mark" and was first mentioned in explorer James Cook’s records from his 1769 expedition to the South Pacific. Some scientists say that certain marks on the skin of the Iceman, a mummified human body starting from about 3300 B.C., are tattoos. In fact, tattoos were found on Egyptian and Nubian mummies starting from about B.C. One of the earliest tattoos was tribal tattoos. Tattoos have different meaning in different cultural tribes. For example, Polynesian people would add more and more tattoos to themselves even until their body was completely covered. They believed this was a sign of beauty and strength. In some tribes, boys reaching manhood received one tattoo to mark......

Words: 1791 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

What Causes People to Get Tattoos

...“What causes people to get tattoos?” Tonny Cobos SOC100030VA016-1146-011 August 18, 2014 What causes people to get tattoos? Who doesn’t have a tattoo or know someone who does in modern society? 16% of all adults in the United States have at least one tattoo (Harvard Health).  In today's society tattoos are completely acceptable. America is the melting pot of the world where diversity and cultures are welcomed. Society is begging to accept “ink”. People that work in business usually have them where they are not easily seen, but a roofer for example it is okay to have them where they are easily seen. If a tattoo is placed appropriately on your body and it is something tasteful, why not. Many celebrities state “tattoos aren't there just to look cool and different. Tattoos have special meaning and they are real, permanent tattoos” (Johnson). This is in no way supposed to stereotype anyone, but to answer some questions about why a person would decide to get something permanently imprinted on their skin.” First there is the reason of a loved one (Jackson).Then there are religious tattoos, many people get this tattoo as a sign of devotion to their beliefs, and is very commendable (Jackson). Next there is the military tattoo Jackson (2007).Then there is the just for fun tattoo. Finally there is the “oh no” mistake tattoo. Of course there will be tattoos that do not fit into any of these categories, but these are definitely common reasons. Tattoos remind people of their......

Words: 787 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Tattoos In Today's Society

...She is interviewed regarding her own experience in which she was forbidden to show her tattoos and piercings while attending the university. In the article, Martin justifies, “ It’s something that is sort of hitting close to home for me. Personally speaking, I am a university student who is seeking a professional career and I do have piercings and tattoos. I have experienced workplace stigma. In a recent sample at a university has found that seventy percent of women and twenty percent of men had body piercings of some type and more that a quarter had tattoos” (Bill). The information obtained from this article concludes many people with tattoos have ambitions and dreams just as big as everyone else. Ink does not mean that a law abiding citizen does not want to obtain a nice job or a education. Tattooed people should not be categorized as they are in today’s society. Many quarrel that tattoos will always be a sign of barbaric, uncivilized human beings. Countless citizens with tattoos are actually superior to many untattooed people. Some of the most considerate people that you will ever meet in your life may have tattoos. Furthermore, people should not be judged on their self-worth by the imprints on their skin. Don’t judge a book by...

Words: 743 - Pages: 3