Tattoos are perceived very differently around the world. Some countries could be considered as early adopters while others would only use tattoos to mark prisoners and slaves. The tradition of tattooing has a long history with deep spirituality and techniques developed in independent culture. While in modern times tattoos have become a very popular form of art, authentic tattoo styles have been reintroduced.
Japanese tattoo tradition has a great heritage. With first mentions of 5000 years ago, it’s modern variations still follow old traditions. Horimono is a preferred name while irezumi (“insert ink”) is associated with punishment and condemn for the ink. In early days tattoo was used as a form of punishment for prisoners to mark where and what crime was committed. However, in 18th century tattoos have become a decoration even though it was still prohibited. Yakuza is very famous for their tattoo designs. Tattoos were covering only the areas which would be hidden by clothes. This practice is maintained nowadays as well.
Ta Moko (New Zealand)
Tattoos traditional for the Maori people are unique for each person. Ta Moko is made to send a message about who a person is, their ancestry and skills/knowledge. Moko can be seen in the lower part of the body and face while women tattooed only around lips and chin. Tattoo ceremony is considered a sacred ritual. Chisels are used to create the tattoo so the surface is not smooth and has grooves. Now it is a part of cultural identity.
Known by the name of henna, this tattoo art has a 5000-year history. For every special occasion, there is a special design which has a different meaning. The most known mehndi is the one on Hindu brides. The pattern used in designs represent symbols of health, sensuality and prosperity. This tattoo style is not permanent and lasts up to two weeks. Henna stains skin with dark brown color. To achieve a darker color (and longevity) lemon juice and sugar are used to seal the stain. Some traditional designs can be seen offered to tourists which spread around the world with new original styles.
These traditional Samoan tattoos have come a long way and given the name for inking around the world. This style has significant gender differences and is always hand made. Getting a tattoo was not a quick process as sometimes it could take weeks or even months to complete. The skills were passed from father to son so traditions could be maintained. The designs are usually located from the waist down. Tatau was expensive and had to be earned. It has often done when a person marked a milestone like puberty or a new role in society.
Ancient Berber tattoos is a dying tradition as modern generations prefer not to follow its unusual style. Only Berber women were tattooed, specifically on their face. First tattoo would be made when a girl would reach adolescence. The symbols represent the history of the tribe, protective talismans to give bearer strength, defence from the evil eye and good fortune. It was considered a sign of beauty.
Sak Yant (Thailand)
Thai tattoo tradition has existed before Buddhism influence has spread across the country. Traditionally monks would perform the tattooing process even though it is not the part of Buddhism practice. Four elements must be included in the design – earth, fire, water, and air. Sak Yank would represent protection from evil and is believed to have magical power. Since Angelina Jolie got one on her back, it has become more popular in the Western world. It takes a bit longer to complete compared to other styles but it is less painful.