Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Today I have a little something different for you. This summer I walked around and asked people if I could take photos of their tattoos. Most people were very open to showing off the artwork on his or her body and would tell me if there was a story behind them.

The etymology of the word is interesting. In the 18th century it was tattaow or tattow from the Polynesian word tatau. In Tahitian tatu. Sailors are credited with introducing the European population to both the word and the art of tattooing.

Tattooing has been a Eurasian practice since at least the New Stone Age or Neolithic times - which began about 9500 BC. And Japan is thought to have indulged in this art form since the Paleolithic times. So although the technique and designs may have evolved the habit of inking one's body is nothing new.

The mermaid seems to be a popular choice, especially among men.

And this is probably the only time that a man will willing wear flowers!

To many a tattoo has a special meaning.

This woman had her grandmother's name tattooed on her chest as a remembrance. And this young lady tattooed this following design to cover track marks from when she was an addict. She is now clean and keeps the tattoo to remind her she can overcome obstacles.

I got the one above just before my 45th birthday this year. I wanted to commerate my tenth year with MS as well as the fact that I am making many physical changes to improve myself. And I am even more committed to my future. The Celtic design of the butterfly is a tribute to the heritage on my father's side of the family.

A tattoo's story could have something to do with who did the inking as well.

The man who got this one told me that the tatoo artist is now serving life in prison for murder.

And these ones were actually done in prison.

If I remember correctly the First Nations artist that had these designs said they were from Stony Plains Prison. The tattoo gun was made from part of a walkman and other such materials. Tattooing is not allowed in prison so these have to be done under the cover of night and with makeshift equipment. Not the most sanitary but the work is exquisite.

The young lady with the tribute to her grandmother also had a tattoo that was interesting.

This tattoo apparently continues all the way down her back but, considering we were on a city street, she didn't show me the rest of it.

This one is from a woman shopping. And the next one is from a woman having dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Tattoos are used as identification - I once heard of a woman who got a tattoo so that if she was every murdered and there wasn't much left for identification she would have this tattoo - and in Nazi Germany tattooed numbers were used to identify the Jews in the death camps. Sailors used tattoos for identification in case of drowning.

There are medical reasons to tattoo like covering skin pigmentation problems, replacing the areola in certain types of breast reconstruction, conveying medical information and to ensure the proper application of instruments during repeated bouts of radiotherapy. Of course tattooing has also been used for cosmetic reasons.

Whether you like them or hate them or are indifferent - tattoos have been around for centuries. They are used for many different applications and I can't foresee this art form disappearing any time soon.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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