Generally speaking, a tattoo is described as an indelible mark bonded to the body by injecting pigment beneath the skin, and the earliest evidence of tattoo art dates back to 5000 BCE. Tattoos have taken on many distinct shapes and meanings throughout history and culture.
The origins of tattooing are unknown.
Tattooing was formerly a widely practised phenomena in many cultures. During his book, “The Descent of Man,” published in 1871, Charles Darwin claimed that there was no country on the planet where tattooing or some other type of permanent body painting did not exist.
Karl von der Steinen, a German ethnologist and explorer who lived in the nineteenth century, claimed that tattooing in South America originated from the practise of painting the body with scars. The scar was discoloured as a result of the plant sap that was applied to the incisions to stop the bleeding. The decoration that results could be compared to a tattoo in certain ways.
David Livingstone claimed in his book ‘Missionary Travels and Research in South Africa’ (1857) that many Africans tattooed themselves by putting a black material under the skin, causing a raised scar, and that this practise was widespread. Apache and Comanche warriors in North America rubbed soil into combat wounds to make scarring more obvious and to display them among their tribe, whereas the pygmies of New Guinea treated infections by rubbing herbs into incisions in the skin, resulting in permanent scarring.
According to such legends, tattooing most likely developed in a variety of locations as a result of bloodletting techniques, scarification rites, medical treatment, or just by accident. The widely held belief that tattooing originated in a particular location has been debunked.
Tattoos from the past and ethnographic tattoos
It is believed that the earliest examples of tattoo art were clay figurines whose faces were painted or carved to imitate tattoo marks, which were discovered in Egypt. The earliest known figures of this type have been discovered in tombs in Japan that date back to 5000 BCE or before.
In terms of real tattoos, the earliest known individual to have tattoos preserved on his mummified skin is a Bronze-Age guy who lived approximately 3300 BCE and had tattoos preserved on his mummified skin. ‘Otzi the Iceman’ was discovered in a glacier in the Otztal Alps, on the boundary between Austria and Italy. He had 57 tattoos when he was discovered.
In fact, several of them were positioned on or near acupuncture points that corresponded to modern-day acupuncture sites that would be used to treat the symptoms of ailments that he appears to have been suffering from, such as arthritis. Some scholars believe that these tattoos are evidence of a form of acupuncture that existed centuries ago. The tattoos on Otzi’s body appear to be composed of soot, yet it is not known how they were created.
In addition to the Middle Kingdom period of ancient Egypt, other early examples of tattoos have been discovered. Several mummies with tattoos have been discovered that date to about that time period (2160–1994 BCE), according to archaeologists.
Tattooing was connected with barbarians throughout the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans (seventh to sixth centuries BC). It was the Persians who first taught the Greeks tattooing, which they used to mark slaves and criminals so that they could be tracked down if they attempted to flee. In turn, the Romans copied this tradition from their Greek forebears.