Tattoos were probably also used in ancient medicine as part of the treatment of the patient. In 1898, Daniel Fouquet, a medical doctor, wrote an article on “medical tattooing” practices in Ancient Egypt, in which he describes the tattooed markings on the female mummies found at the Deir el-Bahari site. He speculated that the tattoos and other scarifications observed on the bodies may have served a medicinal or therapeutic purpose: "The examination of these scars, some white, others blue, leaves in no doubt that they are not, in essence, ornament, but an established treatment for a condition of the pelvis, very probably chronic pelvic peritonitis."
Because it requires breaking the skin barrier, tattooing carries health risks including infection and allergic reactions. Tattooing can be uncomfortable to excruciating depending on the area and can result in the person fainting. Modern tattooists reduce risks by following universal precautions working with single-use items and sterilizing their equipment after each use. Many jurisdictions require that tattooists have blood-borne pathogen training such as that provided through the Red Cross and OSHA. As of 2009 (in the United States) there have been no reported cases of HIV contracted from tattoos.
Sleeves are not easily covered unless you have a long sleeved shirt on. Some people choose to stop their sleeve before their watch so that people in the workforce can’t see it, even when they shake someone’s hand. Other people choose to extend the work past their wrists and onto their hands. It’s a personal preference and different for every individual.
Tattoos are strongly empirically associated with deviance, personality disorders and criminality. Although the general acceptance of tattoos is on the rise in Western society, they still carry a heavy stigma among certain social groups. Tattoos are generally considered an important part of the culture of the Russian mafia.
A lot of us have imagined ourselves with those same kinds of full-arm sleeves. For some, it could work well with our no-fucks-to-give persona. For others, it's an aesthetic decision, or an emotional one. If you’re serious about it though, then it’s worth knowing what planning is involved—from inception, to execution, to maintenance. So we spoke with Nicolas Gualteros, tattoo artist at Senaspace in NYC, to plot it all out.
Certain colours - red or similar colours such as purple, pink, and orange - tend to cause more problems and damage compared to other colours. Red ink has even caused skin and flesh damages so severe that the amputation of a leg or an arm has been necessary. If part of a tattoo (especially if red) begins to cause even minor troubles, like becoming itchy or worse, lumpy, then Danish experts strongly suggest to remove the red parts.
And although it has long been assumed that such tattoos were the mark of prostitutes or were meant to protect the women against sexually transmitted diseases, I personally believe that the tattooing of ancient Egyptian women had a therapeutic role and functioned as a permanent form of amulet during the very difficult time of pregnancy and birth. This is supported by the pattern of distribution, largely around the abdomen, on top of the thighs and the breasts, and would also explain the specific types of designs, in particular the net-like distribution of dots applied over the abdomen. During pregnancy, this specific pattern would expand in a protective fashion in the same way bead nets were placed over wrapped mummies to protect them and "keep everything in." The placing of small figures of the household deity Bes at the tops of their thighs would again suggest the use of tattoos as a means of safeguarding the actual birth, since Bes was the protector of women in labor, and his position at the tops of the thighs a suitable location. This would ultimately explain tattoos as a purely female custom.
An important note to consider, whether you’re just getting your first tattoo or are a veteran of the process, is your nervous system. Anywhere that the skin is thin—feet, hands, or clavicle—you will experience enhanced sensitivity. Concomitantly, in places where an abundance of nerves run close to the surface—upper inner arm, back of the knee, hip and groin area, and lower back—tattooing will be more painful.
"You can never go wrong with black and greyscale tattoos," Villani says. "Black ink lasts better than any color ever will [...] Bright and vibrant colors look great at first, but tend to fade the quickest. This is often why watercolor tattoos are frowned upon. They tend to not always last the test of time." So, if you and your artist are brainstorming a design, remember to consider color as part of the equation.
If you know that eventually you want a full sleeve, then Gualteros advises coming up with the full-arm design ahead of time, instead of starting off with just a few sporadic tattoo ideas. This is true for both tribal-style tattoos as well as a series of more random, disconnected ones. “When you’re working with a blank canvas, you can really think through the entire composition to make it cohesive,” he says. “If you’re working with existing tattoos, you just have to try to make it as seamless as possible.”
Perhaps the main difference between ancient and modern tattoos is that in the contemporary West, a given design’s message is often harder to decipher than those of tattoos rooted in specific cultural traditions. It was easy for fellow Maoris to read meaning in the markings on each other’s faces. But why, oh why, would you plaster your scalp with an picture of a continental breakfast, or ink a puking yellow mouse on your back, as certain bold souls showcased here did? (That’s not to suggest that tattoos have lost their tribal significance. Just look to the tattoos of prison gangs, skinheads, biker clubs, punk rockers, and other subcultures.)
It's true that some timeless designs can be mistaken as cliché, even though I personally wouldn't consider them to be basic. Roses, doves, and literary text tattoos are pretty common, but no two designs ever have to look exactly the same. Your ideas combined with your tattoo artist's vision will usually result in a unique piece of art, even if you're not the only one with an anchor etched onto your skin. Besides, a tattoo's meaning varies from one person to another. That alone will guarantee your tat to be an original.
In the period of early contact between the Māori and Europeans, the Maori people hunted and decapitated each other for their moko tattoos, which they traded for European items including axes and firearms. Moko tattoos were facial designs worn to indicate lineage, social position, and status within the tribe. The tattoo art was a sacred marker of identity among the Maori and also referred to as a vehicle for storing one's tapu, or spiritual being, in the afterlife.