A Short History of Tattoos – and Tattoo Removal

History of Tattoos & Tattoo Removal - Nitai Blog

According to a recent report by the Australian Department of Health, one in ten people will get a tattoo at some point in their life. That’s a lot of people getting inked! While some think this trend is just a passing fad, tattoos have actually been around for thousands of years. Read on to learn a bit more about the history of tattoos.

Earliest Evidence

The remains of an Iceman discovered near the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 revealed something very interesting: the 5,200-year-old remains were sporting tattoo patterns. This is the oldest evidence of tattoos in existence.

Tattooing was a common practice in ancient Egypt, and several tattoo artefacts and remains date back to 2000 B.C. In ancient Egypt, tattooing appears to have been exclusively for women.

Many historians and archaeologists hypothesise that tattoos were used during that time to safeguard women during pregnancy and ensure a healthy delivery, as most of the tattoos were on women’s abdomens and had the appearance of a net.

Later, in ancient Greece and Rome, tattoos have been found on the remains of both men and women. It is believed that tattoos were used by ancient Greeks and Romans to signify which religious groups they were members of.

40,000 years ago, the Samoan and Maori tribes used tattoos to convey and garner respect. It was seen as a mark of bravery to have a tattoo. The Native American tribes used body art similarly, and often times tattoos commemorated a courageous act.

However, some tattoos from this era carry a less pure meaning. Many slaves and criminals were marked with tattoos as a means of record keeping, or in some cases, simply as a punishment.

Tattoos Fall Out of Favour

As Christianity rose in popularity, tattoos declined. Emperor Constantine actually banned tattoos as he believed they ‘disfigure[d] that made in God’s image’. However, some people still sought tattoos, including the sailors and soldiers who famously helped to spread the art form around the world. It is believed that most of the tattoos on these military men functioned as good luck charms to protect them when out at sea or war.

In western society, some people used their tattoos as a form of entertainment and would join the circus to exhibit extensive body art. Tattoos became largely associated with people from society’s lower classes. 

Modern Tattoos

Despite the fall in popularity of body art, in 1846, the first official tattoo shop opened in New York. Most of the tattoos were patriotic in nature, and they were almost exclusively commissioned by men. By the end of WWII, tattoos on men were widely accepted in society. In the late twentieth century, New York City continued to be a driving force in the tattoo industry. As techniques modernised, tattoos became more beautiful and intricate. Unique body art exploded in popularity throughout the 1940s, as members of elite European society were seen with them. Since then, tattoos have become more and more popular, notably among women and the middle class.

History of Tattoo Removal

Surprisingly, there is evidence of attempted tattoo removals that date back to the sixth-century. It seems that many measures were taken to remove tattoos, especially those located on the face, although none were successful. In fact, the resulting scar from the removal attempt was usually worse than the original tattoo.

So, it seems, as long as people have been getting tattoos, there have been a few who have regretted that decision. Thankfully, forty years ago, laser technology was refined for the specific purpose of removing tattoos.

For the best laser tattoo removal in Melbourne, come to Nitai. We use the Revlite laser, which has a variety of wavelengths to target specific colours. Best of all, the removal process is not nearly as painful as the original tattoo, and sessions take mere minutes. For more information on the tattoo removal process, check out Tattoo Removal: What You Need to Know; it covers all the basics and links to our FAQs on tattoo removal.

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