How many of you have got yourself inked? Yes, you heard the word right. That is the new gen way of asking if you got a tattoo. From the millennials to the Gen Zs and Gen Alphas, it is a style and identity statement to sport a tattoo these days. As the year ends, many want a great beginning to a brand new year. So, a sparkling start is good.
Tattoos have suddenly become a part of people’s resolutions every New Year. They symbolise what you want – your goals, dreams, ambitions, feelings, and philosophies. But, most importantly, they define you as a person.
My affair with tattoos began just a year before I hit my 40th milestone. I got this strong calling within me to get myself tattooed. The calling had come long before that, but I could not pluck the courage to do so. Thanks to hearsay from everywhere, I kept visualising the worst. But this time, I was determined to beat my fears and go for them. I am sure you will have stories about how you got your first tattoo inked and reasons behind inking too. Here’s mine.
I had heard from friends that tattoo designs often come instinctually and from one’ soul. It was my first tattoo, and I wanted it to be remarkable. After all, it is a permanent one, and it had to symbolize something substantial. So I meditated, went deep, and imagined what I wanted. I wanted my tattoo to represent freedom, infinity, and my son. So instinctually, I drew the design on paper and showed the tattoo artist. She loved the idea. Let me tell you a secret: I have been scared of needles all my life. I wasn’t sure how much pain I could endure and if I would start screaming in the middle of the session. I kept having wild thoughts the night before. Since I strongly wanted the tattoo, I decided to give it a shot. It was going to be my maiden experience in a tattoo studio. I had envisioned it to be a dark room with dim lights and a bed where I would be asked to lie down. Thanks to my imagination running wild, I thought of all possible scenarios. But when I walked in, I had a pleasant surprise. The TV was on, and music was playing in the background. The walls were brightly painted, and lovely wall art as well. My artist welcomed me with her beautiful smile and, after that, led me to the chair. Although I must admit the sight of the tattoo machine did unnerve me for a while, I decided not to look at it. She carefully chose a new needle from the pack, showed me before beginning the session, and confirmed the design. It took a while to break the ice, but once conversations started flowing, and she started tattooing, I forgot the pain of the pricking sensation. It took about 45 minutes for the tattoo to be completed. Once it was done, it was a beauty to behold. This tattoo was a step taken toward self-love for me.
In 2022, I ventured again and got myself inked the second time. But, this time, it was on my arm. I have often been fascinated with ancient symbols and their meanings. So, a besotted me got myself inked with a Celtic knot – it represents unconditional love and strength.
Tattoos symbolise different things for various ethnic groups and races and have multiple connotations. So how many of you know when humans first took to tattoos? Is this a recent fetish, trend, phenomenon, or an ancient art form? Let’sLet’s dive into the history of tattoos.
Let’s look into the tattoo timeline. There is evidence that tattooing is quite ancient and dates back to the Neolithic period. Interestingly, archaeological records show that the oldest mummified man to be found with a tattoo, called Otzi, the Iceman, dates back to the timeline between 3370 and 3100 BC. Otzi had 61 tattoos!
After discovering his remains, archaeologists found more bodies from nearly 49 sites across the globe. These sites are located in the Philippines, the Andes, Greenland, Alaska, Mongolia, Siberia, western China, Egypt, and Sudan.
The inking tools used by ancient man ranged from bronze needles, chisels made from bones, sharp stones, and even piercing thorns. Ancient Egyptians tattooed themselves to protect themselves against evil spirits; hence, their tattoos were geometric shapes, animals, and gods. The ink was soot prepared by them in which these sharp needles were dipped.
The Maoris of New Zealand have a unique name for tattoos – Ta Moko. For them, tattoos were unique as each design represented the various tribes, ranks, and statuses. The Uhi was a tool used to ink tattoos on bodies. It was bone sharpened and then attached to a wooden handle before inking the tattoos. Cuts were made in the skin, and the tool was used to carve the designs. The modern humans of New Zealand have now revived this custom which almost died in the 19th century.
The Inuits of the Eastern Canadian Arctic believed that young girls must be tattooed to show the transition to a woman – the beginning of their menstrual cycles. For them, these tattoos on women symbolised beauty, strength, and maturity. It also was a gateway for women into the spirit world. Tattoos were mostly made on the face and other parts of the woman’s body. In the Inuit’s Inuktitut language, face tattoos are called “tunniit.”
For all tattoo lovers, there is a treasure chest of information on the web about the origins of tattoos and reasons why people got inked back then. Whether an ancient man or modern Homo Sapiens, tattoos have remained a fascinating facet of our lives.
Interestingly, if you read more about tattoos, you will even come across why tattoos were disliked as well. Modern humans consider employees who are tattooed as unprofessional or those who slack off at work. Tattooed individuals were looked down upon as rebels too. More often than not, people started using tattoos to represent strong philosophies and ideologies in modern democratic settings, giving it a rather racist touch. Most armed forces across the world, too, do not accept candidates who have tattoos.
So, yes, be mindful while choosing your tattoo. Let it preferably be something YOU, and something that symbolizes yourself. After all, it is inking for life! Cheers to everyone for a fantastic year ahead, and happy tattooing! Signing off with my favourite quote by Johnny Depp. This resonates with me now more than ever, “my body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.”
She is a quirky writer/photographer/closet poet and singer who has traversed a non-conventional path. As a former entertainment journalist who has worked in print and online media for a decade, Priya loves talking to people and writing their unspoken stories. She is a single parent of a 7-year-old son settled in Tamil Nadu and a Content Consultant/ Communications-PR Manager. She is also an informal mentor to parents in her local parenting network. She dreams of being an author of a book and maybe the scriptwriter of a film someday!
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