Changing Ink

As cultures and tribes melded and broke apart, so did their tattoos. Each time these tattoos would change. One tribe absorbing another into it would add some piece or style to the tattoos. This resulted in a constantly evolving art form. As these tattoos evolved so did their meaning in society. Each level of these dynamic cultural body markings is unique enough to distinguish time period and location of that culture. The earliest tattoos were nothing more than dots and lines in the skin; today tattoos are an extensive art form with as many styles as there are styles of painting. Tattoos have steadily evolved. They have grown in meaning, while steadily increasing in intricacy.

Sultan. Web. 3 Dec 2010. <>.


Tattoos in some of their earliest forms were used as sources to show belonging within a tribe or group. This is often the case today with gang tattoos. Tattoos show a devotion to a cause far greater that of simply supporting your beliefs. With the tattoo you show your devotion literally all of the time. When tattoos were created they lacked a means of removal; as a result, they exude a deep loyalty for the cause they are associated with whether that is religion, a gang, or something else entirely.

Tattoo began more as a means of labeling individuals and individuality. In both ancient Greece and Rome slaves were labeled with tattoos. Similarly Jewish people were required to have tattoos labeling themselves during World War Two in Nazi Germany. It has retained much of that meaning, but other uses and meanings are no longer used today. For instance tattoos were often used on the faces of Native American warriors to instill fear in their enemies. While some of these meanings have died out, just as many new meanings arise to take their places.


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