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The Origin Of Body Art Designs

The history of tattooing is as diverse as the body art designs that tattoo artists create. From tribal man to prison yard tats, read on to find out where the art of tattooing began and just what it means in different cultures and atmospheres.

Tribal Man

Ever since the dawn of man, the art of tattooing has been a part of our society. Once just a tribal symbol of days gone by, tribes such as the Atayal began tattooing their faces as a sign of their worthiness as warriors and women. The marks signified that the men were mighty protectors of their homeland and upon the female face it signified an ability to weave and keep house.

Brotherhood of Arms

In our culture, the tattoo scene took off as the military and navy set sail. Men often marked themselves with their platoon numbers or with a special tattoo of significance as a band of brotherhood. However, these tattoos served another purpose. In a worst case scenario, a fatality or injury could be easily named as a US soldier if he carried "the mark". This meant if other areas were unrecognizable that the tattoo could be used a form of identification.


Because of the history of body art designs and it is no surprise that the brotherhood "mark" found its way into street life. Gangs often ink themselves with their insignia as a way of creating unity and boldly professing their associations. In government establishments like schools, such markings are considered illegal and students must cover up their tattoos with either long sleeved tees or bandages.

Prison Tats

Prison tattoos are the battle scars of the tattoo world. Some with symbolism others done just to pass the time, prison tattoos are created using parts of a paper clip or guitar string as a needle, it is then passed through an empty ball point pen case. The ink itself can come from many different places such as the ink from a pen, burned Styrofoam or other items the prisoners may have available. One of the most recognizable symbols of jailhouse tattoos is the teardrop which signifies the taking of life.

The history of body art designs vary from culture to culture. In some small areas of the world the tattoo is still taboo while in our tribes it is still a well embraced symbol of capability and brotherhood. To find out more about body art designs visit your local tattoo shop.
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