The Colorful History of Tattoos Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Today, tattoos are a fixture in pop culture, with everyone from Rihanna to Angelina Jolie sporting visible ink. But the medium also has a rich history that dates back to cavemen days, with some seriously surprising facts in the mix. Inked Egyptian mummies? Painted Celtic princesses? Tattooed Barbie dolls? It's all right here.Advertisement
The Inked Iceman Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Many prehistoric cultures had tattoo traditions. How do we know? Inked ancient mummies. The oldest, 5200-year-old Ötzi the Iceman discovered in the Alps, had tattooed dots and crosses that may have been applied as a therapy for pain. The designs were found near joints that showed signs of strain.
Etch Like an Egyptian Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
In ancient Egypt, women were the ones who had tattoos, usually dots inked on the stomach, upper thighs and breasts. Three female mummies from around 2000 BC were found sporting tats, and inked women were depicted occasionally in art. Experts think the tattoos were either worn by concubines or were meant to safeguard women during pregnancy and childbirth. Bronze tattooing implements like these have been found at Egyptian archaeological sites.
Photo: via Smithsonian Magazine
Painted Lady Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
The Picts, a Celtic culture that lived in modern day Scotland during during the second half of the first millenium AD, are thought to have painted or tattooed their bodies. The painting A Young Daughter of the Picts depicts a maiden whose skin is covered in floral designs — now that’s a piece.
When in Tahiti... Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
The word "tattoo" comes from the Tahitian "tatau." British explorer Captain James Cook introduced the word to the English language after exploring the South Pacific from 1766-1779. Meanwhile, many of his men returned from the voyage sporting souvenir ink — though probably not as extreme as this Maori chief they encountered in New Zealand.
Anchors Aweigh Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Throughout the 19th century, tattoos continued to be very much a sailor thing. Sailors used tattoos to identify themselves (in case their bodies were lost at sea or they were impressed by the British navy) and as good luck charms. Superstitious seamen tattooed pigs and roosters on the tops of their feet because these animals often survived shipwrecks (the wooden crates that housed them would float). Nautical stars, compasses and swallows were meant to help guide a sailor home.
Photo: via sailorjerry.com
Step Right Up Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
In the late 1800s, "tattooed ladies" swept the circus sideshow circuit. Maud Wagner, shown here in a 1911 photograph, was not only a freak show attraction (along with her tattoo artist husband) but was also the first known female tattoo artist in the U.S.
Body Art in Japan Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Tattoos, or irezumi, in Japan are thought to date back 10,000 years. Colorful, decorative tattooing developed into an advanced art form alongside the woodblock art of the Edo period (1600-1868). Tattoos were illegal from the mid nineteenth century until 1948, and became associated with Japan's yakuza mafia.
Runway Ready Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Chanel sent tattoos down the runway in 2010, with chains, logos and swallow designs emblazoned on models’ exposed skin. That season, the brand released the Les Trompe L'Oeil de Chanel temporary tattoo set for $75.Photo by: Chanel
Decorated Doll Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
In 2011, Mattel and Tokidoki collaborated on the first official tattooed Barbie doll.
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Celebrities are famous for regretting their unfortunate ink. Post-divorce, Angelina Jolie had Billy Bob Thornton’s name lasered off her arm. Johnny Depp transformed his “Winona Forever” tat into “Wino Forever” after their breakup in the 1990s. Most recently — and ironically — Hayden Panettiere had her misspelled Italian “Live without regrets” tattoo corrected.Photo by: Getty Images
Intellectual Property Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Tattoos can be copyrighted just like any other creative work, a rule that tattoo artist S. victor Whitmill invoked when he sued the makers of The Hangover: Part II. Whitmill, who created Mike Tyson's infamous face tat in 2003, objected to the use of a similar design on the face of Ed Helms' character in the movie. Warner Bros. eventually settled the suit.
Pinup Queen Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
The 2012 Victoria's Secret fashion show featured model Liu Wen painted to look like she was covered in tattoos.Photo by: Getty Images
Terrier Tramp Stamps? Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Earlier this year, a pet groomer in New York began offering temporary tattoos for dogs. We think that little guy's face says it all.
Tattoos as a Trend Wendy Rodewald-Sulz
Today, one in five Americans has a tattoo, according to a 2012 survey — and women are more likely to be inked: 23 percent versus 19 percent of men.Photo by: Getty Images