Tattooing—history, technics, complications, removal

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THE practice of tattooing is an ancient one and worldwide in its distribution. There is evidence of extensive use of painting and scarifying the human body in prehistoric times, but the earliest known tattooing was done in Egypt about 4000 B.C. Such marking was associated with fertility rites, ideas of heaven, and with social status. Moses, in Leviticus XIX:28, forbade tattooing as idolatry, and Arab tribes marked unmarried young girls with a small, blue-cross tattoo on their cheeks. The Romans and Greeks practiced tattooing extensively, as did some of their less civilized contemporaries. Early Christians forbade tattooing, and its popularity declined in the Dark and the Middle Ages. In the late 18th century, Captain Cook reintroduced it to Europe through his contact with Polynesia. One hundred years later, in the 1880’s, tattooing enjoyed popularity among European nobility. Princes and kings of many nations, among them Czar Nicholas II, Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Edward VII and Prince George of Greece, elevated tattooing to the realm of high fashion. Even Lady Randolph Churchill had a snake tattooed around her arm.

Why does a person submit to the pain involved in defacing his own skin? Throughout the ages, tattoos have been indulged in as protection against danger, as love charms, to restore youth, to insure good health and long life, to implement fertility, to bring about the death of an enemy, to cure an illness, to divest a corpse of its malevolent powers, to insure a happy afterlife, to propitiate supernatural powers, and . . .



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