The art of tattooing has been a human practice for thousands of years. Throughout the ages this act of body modification has evolved in trend and tradition to build the rich history of tattooing that we can look back upon today.

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3300 BCE – Ötzi

  • Known as the “iceman”, his body is covered in 61 tattoos
  • Tattoos were produced by rubbing charcoal into fine incisions
  • Marks are thought to have been for therapeutic purposes, and locations correspond to acupuncture lines

2000 B.C. – Amunet

  • Egyptian priestess of the goddess Hathor
  • Style corresponds with patterns of Middle Kingdom faience figurines
  • Tattoo location suggests they served fertility purposes

1000-1100 A.D. – Crusades

  • Warriors wore tattooed marks of the Jerusalem cross
  • Tattoos were used to identify bodies after death and guarantee proper Christian burials
  • After the crusades the practice largely disappeared in the West

1600 A.D. – Japanese Yakuza

  • Used by Japanese mafia as a status symbol and sign of commitment
  • Full-body hand-poked “irezumi” designs used a single needle
  • Designs stop at ankles, wrist, and collar to remain hidden under clothes

1769 – Sailors and Captain James Cook’s Expedition

  • Cook encountered tattooed Tahitian aboriginals during his expedition to Tahiti
  • Sailors used tattoos such as turtles and anchors to note their travels
  • The word “tattoo” was introduced as an Anglophonic modification of the Tahitian “tatau”

1800’s – Aristocrats

  • Tattooing became fashionable among high society but concealed from public view
  • Winston Churchill’s mother bore a tattoo of a serpent on her wrist
  • In 1891, the first electric tattoo machine was patented by Samuel O’Reilly

1990’s and Onward – Laser Tattoo Removal

  • Before the invention of Laser Tattoo removal, most tattoo removal procedures were primitive, painful and could leave visible scarring
  • The Q-Switched Neodymium-YAG laser was introduced in 1991 for tattoo removal. This laser was effective in removing black and dark blue ink tattoos
  • The PicoSure laser was introduced in 2013 – it works by breaking ink into small fragments that can then be removed by the body naturally
  • This makes it much easier to remove multicolor tattoos

Modern Day

  • Tattoo guns today can pierce the skin 50-3000 times per minute
  • Annually, $1.65 billion dollars are spent on tattoos in 21,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S.
  • 40% of U.S. adults between the ages of 26 and 40 have a tattoo

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