Inspiration: Calligraphic body art & the history of Tattoos…

small text tattoo, tatoo, hands, minute, microscopic tattoo

Whilst researching writing on the body as performance, and microscopic written texts, I came across this amazingly detailed tattoo:

“Body Scripture II”  – calligraphic body art. Israeli artist Ronit Bigal creates these black Indian ink calligraphies  composed of thousands of tiny Hebrew letters covering the skin of her models. Hereby the photographs together with the text appear almost like abstract landscapes or cloth covering the body. (source: Hovercraftdoggy)

small text tattoo, tatoo, hands, minute, microscopic tattoo

The unique image prompted me to discover the origins of the idea of a tattoo – beyond a fashion statement, body decoration or current-day identity statement. Some interesting findings: The word tattoo originated from “tatu”, a Tahitian word for marking something.

  • The earliest history of tattoos: It has been claimed that the art of tattooing goes back 12,000 years. Over the years, the significance and use of tattoos in different cultures has changed dramatically. Some of the earliest tattoos in history can be found in ancient Egypt. The art spread as the Egyptian empire grew in size. This art form was then picked up by civilizations in Arabia, Persia, Greece and Crete. Tattoos were first introduced in China in 2000 BC.
  • Tattoos in different cultures: The art of tattooing was used by Greek spies as a form of communication. The tattoos identified the rank of the spies. In western Asia, the Ainu used tattoos to indicate social status. Married women and girls that come of age were marked to indicate where they stood in society. Tattoos were then introduced to Japan by the Ainu. The Romans used tattoos to mark slaves and criminals. The Polynesians used tattoos to mark rank and tribal communities and they then brought this art form to New Zealand where the unique Moko style is used even today.
  • The first tattooing machine: The first ever electric tattoo machine was patented in 1891 by Samuel O’Reily based on the electric pen design of Edison. This electric machine made tattoos readily available as well as affordable for all classes. He was also partly responsible for the birth of American style tattoos. O’Reily moved to Chatham Square in NYC and took on Charlie Wagner as his apprentice. Charlie set up shop with Lew Alberts aka “Lew the Jew” who has been said to be a pioneer of tattoo flash art.
  • Tattooing today: It was in the late ’60s that the attitude towards tattoos changed. Lyle Tuttle claims much credit for making this happen. Tuttle tattooed several women and well-known celebrities including Cher, Janis Joplin, Henry Fonda, and Paul Stanley. Tuttle also appeared on television and magazines to talk about tattoo culture. Today, tattooing is a widely accepted and popular art form that is more popular than ever before.

Source: Tattoo Crowd


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