a permanent  picture, pattern, or word on the surface of skin, created by using needles to put colors under the skin.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

I already have done some research of tattoos since I have 8. I always do tremendous research before I get one. Each of them has important meaning to me, how I live, my art theme, my morality, or identity. After getting a tattoo, ink will come out from the skin, and the ink became a scab, and then it will gradually peel naturally. I like the process since at the moment all of my scabs peeled, I feel the tattoo finally became part of me. I decided to do research about tattoo more deeply this time through this year. My final goal is to design one by myself. 

History of tattoo

Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment. Joann Fletcher, research fellow in the department of archaeology at the University of York in Britain, describes the history of tattoos and their cultural significance to people around the world, from the famous " Iceman," a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy, to today’s Maori.

In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old. 
January 1, 2007

Since I lived in Hawaii for past 2 years, and also spend my half of childhood in  there, I have knowledge about Samoa tattoo. I have seen a lot of people who has traditional Samoa tattoos. However, none of them get them in traditional ways. I went to some tattoo studios at there. However, none of them use traditional techniques. I bet it is very hard to find who is still using traditional techniques in Hawaii. Most Hawaiians tend to get traditional tattoos, but reason, why they get this kind of tattoos, is not the same as their ancient customs. The most popular reason they get them is they think it is cool. Each traditional tattoo has meanings, but they even know what the meaning is. Sadly traditional techniques and the true meaning of Samoa tattoo are losing. Nowadays, the meaning of the tattoo is more superficial than it was. 


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The skull and crossbones on the prisoner's shoulders indicate that he's serving a life sentence, and the girl "catching" her dress with a fishing line on his left forearm is a tattoo commonly inked to rapists. (VICE)

These tattoos have meaning to him or prisoners, but it looks just one of the tattoo for normal people. I always look up the meaning of the tattoo I will get because I do not want to label myself as murder or rapist. 

The Beginning: Tatau in Samoa

Your necklace may break, the fau tree may burst, but my tattooing is indestructible. It is an everlasting gem that you will take into your grave.

Verse from a traditional tattoo artist's song

The legacy of Polynesian tattoo began over 2000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear them. Once widespread in Polynesian societies across the Pacific Ocean, the arrival of western missionaries in the 19th century forced this unique art form into decline. Despite the encroachment of Christian religious beliefs that vilified tattooing as unholy, many Polynesian tattoo artists maintained their vital link to their culture's history by preserving their unique craft for generations.

In Samoa, the tradition of applying tattoo, or tatau, by hand has been unbroken for over two thousand years. Tools and techniques have changed little. The skill is often passed from father to son, each tattoo artist, or tufuga, learning the craft over many years of serving as his father's apprentice. A young artist-in-training often spent hours, and sometimes days, tapping designs into sand or barkcloth using a special tattooing comb, or au. Honoring their tradition, Samoan tattoo artists made this tool from sharpened boar's teeth fastened together with a portion of the turtle shell and to a wooden handle.

Samoan society has long been defined by rank and title, with chiefs (ali'i) and their assistants, known as talking chiefs (tulafale), descending from notable families in the proper birth order. The tattooing ceremonies for young chiefs, typically conducted at the onset of puberty, were elaborate affairs and were a key part of their ascendance to a leadership role. The permanent marks left by the tattoo artists would forever celebrate their endurance and dedication to cultural traditions. The pain was extreme and the risk of death by infection was a great concern. But to shy away from tattooing was to risk being labeled a pala'ai or coward and reviled by the clan. Those who could not endure the pain and abandoned their tattooing were left incomplete, wearing their mark of shame throughout their life. (history of tattoo)

This guy seemed to look for his identity. Tattoo's style is constant, but his tattoos are so random, and try to identify himself with tattoos. 

This "exist", and "here" tattoos were something that I wanted to get. I wanted to get something that prove I am here, and I am who I am. However, I did not get these because this is their proof of who they are. Someday I will get something show who I am. 


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