Karma-Net Cultural Series
Tattoo Designs: The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian "tatu" which means "to mark." It has been claimed that tattooing has existed since 12,000 years BCE. The purpose of tattooing has varies from culture to culture and its place in time.
Tattoos have always played an important role in ritual and tradition. Throughout history tattoos have signified membership in a clan or society.
So far, the earliest tattoos can be found in Egypt during the time of the construction of the great pyramids. When the Egyptians expanded their thriving empire, the art of tattooing spread as well. The civilizations of Crete, Greece, Persia, and Arabia picked up and expanded the art form. Around 2000 BCE the art of tattooing spread to China.
Points of interest:
In the past two centuries, archaeologists have discovered several mummified human remains marked with tattoos:
In 1991, the frozen, well-preserved body of a Siberian "Iceman" was discovered in the Alps. More than 5,000 years old, the body had 57 tattoos.
In 1948, a Russian archaeologist excavating a group of tombs found the mummy of a Scythian Chieftain. On the mummy's right arm, there were tattoos of a donkey, a mountain ram, and two deer. There were also tattoos of four running rams encircling his shin.
In 1891, archaeologists discovered the mummified remains of an Egyptian priestess named Amunet, who lived some time between 2160 BCE and 1994 BCE. Her body had tattoos on its arms, legs, and below the belly button.
In Japan, scientists have discovered clay figurines-more than 3,000 years old, painted with markings that resemble tattoos.
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