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the imprinting of designs on the body through the introduction of pigment under the skin. Some peoples of Oceania and Southeast Asia, as well as some Indians in North and South America, practice tattooing by pricking the skin with a needle made of wood, bone, or metal, which they tap with a small mallet. Some peoples in the northeastern part of Asia stitch the skin with a needle and dyed thread and subsequently remove the thread. Tattooing was part of the primordial rites testing the endurance of a youth being initiated into manhood. Tattoos also served as symbols of magical protection against evil spirits.

The practice of tattooing dates from the age of primitive communities and early class societies, when a tattoo served not only as a decoration but also as a mark of a person’s tribe, family, totem, or social status. It was prevalent among peoples with light skin, particularly in Polynesia, where tattooing was done by masters; the entire body, even the tongue, was covered with designs. (Among dark-skinned peoples cicatrization was common.) The custom of tattooing was brought to Europe from Southeast Asia by sailors; tattoos continue to be used by Europeans as decorations and memorial symbols.

Tattoos are removed mainly through surgery. The tattooed sections of the skin are excised, and the remaining skin is then either simply sutured or grafted with new skin. Tattoos may also be removed by a laser beam or through electrocoagulation of the pockets of pigmentation with chemical substances, such as concentrated solutions of zinc chloride, tannic acid, and trichloroacetic acid. These cause necrosis of the tissue where they are applied, resulting in the formation of a scar. Abrasion of the skin with emery paper or sodium chloride crystals is yet another way of removing tattoos.

References in periodicals archive ?
TATTOOING equipment which can permanently scar and spread deadly infections including HIV and hepatitis is being sold on the internet for less than pounds 100.
Skin Deep has been the industry leader in the tattoo field for over 14 years, and through Tattoo Jam continues to celebrate and promote the art of tattooing, bringing a cross-section of cultural and artistic ideals to North Wales.
Many women are taking the plunge, and tattooing has almost become a rite of passage for young people.
Since 1999, California law has prohibited permanent tattooing on anyone under 18, even with parental consent, unless it is prescribed by a physician, say, to mask an injury scar or to alter a gang tattoo.
Tattooing and body piercing are far from the relatively new "fads" many Americans perceive them to be.
Though tattoo inks are subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration as cosmetics and color additives, that agency does not currently attempt to actually regulate tattooing or the pigments involved.
23) Tattooing can cause allergic reactions or spread diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS.
Tattooing has been shown to transmit other infectious diseases as well, including hepatitis B, syphilis, leprosy, and tuberculosis.
When the state banned the industry (following a hepatitis scare in the 1950s), the tattooing community didn't disappear.
The author, an anthropologist, is herself a member of "the tattoo community," that is to say, is heavily tattooed, an avid reader of tattoo magazines, and an occasional attender of tattooing conventions.
Researchers found that tattooing was no longer viewed as being just for bikers and non-conformists.
Tattooing can be an act of defiance or of taking control.