Tribal Tattoos

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Today, tattoos are a common way of expressing oneself, of showing one’s loyalty, or preferences. On some individuals, tattoos reveal a little too much. But did you know the earliest tattoo was seen more than 5,000 years ago? It’s true. Even Egyptian mummies wore tattoos.

The first tattoos weren’t quite as sanitary as ours are now though. They were derived by dipping a sharp stick into ashes from fire. Painfully, other measures were also used, including mallets, which literally drove ink into skin.

Tribal tattooing was originally performed as a camouflage and then, later, as a symbol of loyalty. No matter where one traveled, his markings would display where his loyalties lay and which tribe he was from. Eventually, tattoo drawings and markings increased, not only depicting tribal loyalties, but also family tragedies. Eagles or wolves were embellished on family members’ arms to tell of the loss of a loved one. Courageous battles fought were drawn in detail onto arms for the entire world to see. Tattoos were even present on faces and other areas of the body.

Today, tattoos are present in nearly every culture, including American, European, and African cultures. The pictures and motifs chosen are decidedly different depending on the region and use, but the message is usually the same; to project a visual form of loyalty, to show the world where your heart, hope, or loyalty lies.

Tribal tattoos have been present since the Native American culture evolved. Though the tattoos have changed form throughout the years, their influence can be seen today all over the world. People everywhere are expressing themselves by having drawings put onto their bodies. Little did anyone know that what once began as a way to camouflage would one day become a way to display just about anything under the sun.

Joseph Paige 2006

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