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11 Astounding Things You Never Knew About Tattoos

Tattoos have been around for thousands of years, and depending on the place and period, haven’t always been viewed negatively. Today, for all those who see tattoos as works of art or as a way to enhance one’s beauty, there are those who still see them in a dark light; in their minds, tattoos are associated with prison life, gangs, drug use, and racist organizations among other bad things. So in case you happen to be one of those people who want to get a tattoo but are skeptical, read the following 11 things you possibly ignore about tattoos and let's hope you get enlightened enough to make the right decision.
Written by Theodoros II


The Iceman (3300–3200 BCE), whose physical remains are still intact, has the oldest tattoos that have been preserved. He has a black cross on the inside of his left knee, six straight lines on his lower back, and parallel lines on his ankles, legs, and wrists. When scientists X-rayed his body, they discovered joint disease under each tattoo, which makes them believe these tattoos were meant to relieve his pain. Furthermore, archaeologists have discovered tools in France, Portugal, and Scandinavia that were probably used for tattooing. These are at least twelve thousand years old, or from the time of the last ice age.


The word tattoo derives from the Polynesian word ta, which describes the sound of a tattooing spike being hit against skin. The first recorded reference to the word tattoo is in the papers of Joseph Banks, a naturalist aboard Captain Cook’s ship. Europeans called tattoos “marks” or “prics” until then. Polynesian tattooing as it existed before the arrival of the Europeans in the South Pacific is considered to have been the most skillful.


Ancient methods for tattoo removal include using scum from the bottom of a chamber pot mixed with “very strong vinegar” or pigeon feces mixed with vinegar and applied as a poultice “for a long time.” With the advance of science and technology, however, these days laser surgery is considered the most effective and popular way to remove a tattoo. The laser penetrates the skin and breaks up the tattoo pigments so that they can be carried away naturally by the body’s immune system. Black is the easiest color to remove because it absorbs more laser waves. Green and yellow are more difficult to remove.


The Greeks learned tattooing from the Persians and used them to mark slaves and criminals so they could be identified if they escaped. The Romans learned it from the Greeks and would tattoo "fug" on the foreheads of slaves, for “fugitive.” Actually, it has been recorded that one of the craziest Roman emperors of all time, Caligula, amused himself by capriciously ordering members of his court to be tattooed.


In 787, Pope Hadrian I banned tattooing of any kind, even on criminals and gladiators. From that point, tattooing was virtually unknown in most of Western Europe until the nineteenth century. Additionally, tattooing wasn’t viewed positively in Eastern Europe either, more specifically, in the Byzantine Empire. It has been reported that the Greek emperor Theophilus took revenge on two monks who had publicly criticized him by having eleven verses of obscene iambic pentameter tattooed on their foreheads.


From the middle of the eighteenth century till the early twentieth, tattoos were particularly popular with English and Russian royalty. They were so expensive that only the rich could afford them. When tattoos became more affordable, they started to be deemed “trashy” until the tattoo renaissance in the mid-twentieth century.


Fast forward to our contemporary times, rock star Tommy Lee grabbed a place in the Guinness Book of Records in 2007 when he became the first man to be tattooed in midair during a private flight to Miami. And speaking of Tommy Lee, his ex-wife Pamela Anderson was responsible for the rise in popularity of tattoo armbands in the late ’90's since she was the first celebrity to bear one on Baywatch.


Even though most gang members will have an “honorable” tattoo of their affiliation somewhere on their body, the title for the most famous of all criminal tattoos goes to the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. Its members wear intricate and traditional designs in a full-body suit that can be hidden entirely from view by clothes as a sign of their commitment to the gang.


Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, had a tattoo of a snake around her wrist, which she covered with a diamond bracelet for formal occasions. In case you didn’t know, Churchill had an anchor on his forearm.


Nowadays, most parents try to prevent their kids from having multiple tattoos on their bodies but this wasn't always the case. After the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932, many parents all over America became so worried that they had their children tattooed so they could be recognized in case they got lost or abducted.


Finally, for all of you who are considering a tattoo anytime soon, keep in mind that your skin will be pierced from about 50 up to 3000 times per minute by the tattoo machine when you get a tattoo, depending the shape and size of the tattoo you want.

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