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Tattoo History

Tattoos have also been found in some of the mummified remains from ancient cultures of Peru and Chile, often being elaborate images of stylized animals and a variety of symbols also found in their textile and pottery designs. Tattoos have been found on torsos, limbs hands, fingers, and sometimes the face.

The mummies of six Greenland Inuit women dating back to A.D. 1475 showed evidence of facial tattoos. They had tattooed lined over their eyebrows, along their cheeks and some had them on their chins.

The ancient mummies found in China’s Taklamakan Desert have also revealed evidence of tattoos, though during the Han Dynasty is seems that only criminals were tattooed.

In Japan, tattoos were first used on clay figurines shaped like humans. The markings had religious or magical significance. The first human tattoo in Japan dated back to 297 A.D. and was determined to be for decoration. Tattoo artists were known as the “Horis” and were acknowledged as masters.

Polynesian cultures have highly elaborate tattoos featuring geometric designs, which in many cases cover the entire body. The word tattoo is derived from the polynesian term “tatatau” or “tattau.”

Why is it that so many cultures have marked the human body with tattoos?

In many cases, tattoos were used as protective or therapeutic symbols, or as a means of social, political or religious classification. Other times they were simply used as a form of self-expression or fashion.