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History of Tattoos in the West


The history of tattoos in the west finds that the Britons in the early ages used tattoos for ceremonial purposes. As the tattoos were still in practice, the Danes, Norse, and Saxons used tattoos as their family crests. It is said that Pope Hadrian banned tattooing in 787 AD, while it still existed in Britain till the invasion by the Normans in 1066. The Normans rejected tattooing with contempt and it disappeared from the western world from the 12th to the 16th century.

Time when tattoos vanished from the west:

Though tattooing vanished from the west, it thrived in Japan. The Japanese marked the criminals with tottoos according to their offenses. These marking were typical with the first offense having a line on the fore-head. The second would have an arch added to the line, while the third would have another line added. These marking comprised of what was originally called as "Three strikes you’re out" law, and formed the Japanese character for "dog".

At one time only the Japanese royalties were only allowed to wear ornate clothing, and for this reason the common people started to decorate their bodies with different design of tattoos. This made the person, wearing tattoos all over his body but wearing only a loin cloth, considered to be well dressed, but only in the privacy of his own home.


Re-appearance of tattoos in the west:

Tattooing was re-introduced in the west by a man called William Dampher. The man was a sailor and at the same times an explorer, and mostly traveled the South Seas. When he arrived in London in 1691, he brought with him a heavily tattooed Polynesian named Prince Giolo, who was later nick-named, the "Painted Prince". This man became the center of attraction in London as he was put on exhibition for money making purposes. This was the first time in 600 years that tattoo appeared in Europe and it took another 100 years for tattoo to mark its presence in the west.

In the later part of 1700's, the people in London got another look at a heavily tattooed Polynesian named Omai, who was brought to the city by Captain Cook while coming back from one of his journeys to the South Pacific. This man became a sensation in London. This was the time when the upper-class began to wear small tattoos in discreet places. This was the era when tattooing started to become a fad



The process needed for tattooing kept tattoos from spreading faster. It was a painful process where the puncture in the skin was done manually and the ink was applied in the punctures. The first electric tattooing machine was patented by Samuel O'Rtiely. The technology was based on Edison's electric pen which was used to puncture paper with a pointed needle. The basic design of moving coils, a tube and a needle bar are the components used in today's tattooing machine.


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