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the marking of the skin with punctures into which pigment is rubbed. The word originates from the Tahitian tattau [to mark]. The term is sometimes extended to scarification, which consists of skin incisions into which irritants may be rubbed to produce a permanent raised scar. Tattooing is an ancient practice; evidence for it has been found on mummified remains in Europe and South America that are more than 5,000 and 4,500 years old, respectively. The modern method of tattooing employs an electric needle. Puncture tattooing reached its most elaborate and artistic development among the Maori of New Zealand and among the Japanese, who perfected the use of color. It was introduced into Europe by sailors.

In modern Western cultures, tattooing has been alternately regarded as a somewhat vulgar practice and as a sign of high fashion. It has been used by modern states as an instrument of control, as in the identification of criminals and political prisoners; it is also used to identify race horses. In medicine, it used primarily in cosmetic surgery, for example, to remove birthmarks by injecting a pigment of the color of the natural skin. Tattoos may be removed by a slow, difficult process.

Tattooing has been banned in some areas for health reasons; unclean needles can transmit hepatitis or HIV, the virus leading to AIDS. The Old Testament enjoins the Israelites against the practice, it was forbidden by Muhammad, and a Roman Catholic council condemned it in 787. For the significance of tattooing and scarification, see body-markingbody-marking,
painting, tattooing, or scarification (cutting or burning) of the body for ritual, esthetic, medicinal, magic, or religious purposes. Evidence from prehistoric burials, rock carvings, and paintings indicates that body-marking existed in ancient times; ethnographic
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See C. R. Sanders, Customizing the Body (1989); J. Caplan, ed., Written on the Body (2000).

What does it mean when you dream about a tattoo?

Since a tattoo is originally a sign of initiation, this dream symbol may indicate that the dreamer is entering a new stage in his or her life.


a picture or design made on someone's body by pricking small holes in the skin and filling them with indelible dye


Tattoos may represent those things in our lives that seem only “skin deep” but may be interesting and fun. They could represent our thinking, our playful ways, and our seemingly unimportant habits. As time progresses, we may realize that our passing fads have become permanent. Thus, a tattoo may be symbolic of something that we inflict on ourselves, is permanent if not deep, and generally carries with it some negativity.
References in periodicals archive ?
Students were excited about the idea of creating a tattoo design, which seemed very cool and hip to them.
Bulgarian anthropologists and the earnest students of comparative religions come here to admire the tattoo designs favoured by the natives - particularly noting the Viking influence featured in scenes of vigorous merry-making, as well as the more familiar love of mermaids, football and amorous courtship.
Previously, tribespeople would also use parts of their tattoo designs to mark their personal property; ABOVE, RIGHT: a woman with tribal scars that show that she is from the Djougou region.
Dunne, who started off life as an engineer with Aer Lingus, said he shudders when he thinks about the pain some people go through to get complicated tattoo designs.
One arm is covered in a celtic design and his other arm has several tattoo designs.
We have a book of tattoo designs at our shop labeled "Girly" because 90% of all women who come into our shop choose a design from that book.
I like to stay at home with my daughter and read books or work on new tattoo designs.
YellowMan Boyshorts ($36) feature old-school tattoo designs and a masculine cut made for female figures.
The Body Art Sprayer uses CO2 cartridges to spray a henna color onto the skin and comes with a collection of 28 tattoo designs, including popular Chinese characters.