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Evolution of a rite

Tattooing techniques from prehistory to nowadays

Tattooing techniques

Tattooing techniques had a long evolution in time. Whereas this lead away from the initial purpose of tattoos for ancient men, which was to send their spirit towards the deities and challenge themselves through pain, showing everyone their courage, new technologies allowed everyone to approach tattoo art; since people can be tattooed painlessly, they can consider tattoos as embellishments of their own bodies; did you ever have a dress or an amulet you would never wear off? Tattoos have become this too: a decoration of our body which we carry with us wherever we go, talking to people about us and which will fade with us at the end of our earthly journey.

Initially, tattoos were just scars, cuts and carvings etched on the body to form geometrical patterns and prove one´s courage. Nowadays similar practices, known as "body modifications", are kind of having a revival, but have nothing to do with tattoos as we presently know them.
Men eventually discovered that introducing some dyeing into the cuts an indelible track remained. That was the precursor of modern tattoos. One very common way of tattooing among several peoples consists in hammering on the skin with a sharp chisel, in order to cut the drawing to be inked below the derma. This technique is called "by pricking".
Another less known technique, called "by sewing" consists in having a dyeing drenched thread sliding under the skin, following the lines of a previously drawn pattern.

Presently, three main methods are recognised:

  • Samoan: dyeing is inserted under the skin using a hollow small stick; quite painful.
  • Japanese: needles are obliquely inserted into the skin with minor violence; a bit painful anyhow.
  • American: it´s the most widely known, and uses an electric machine to set the dyeing under the derma; it causes warm and vibrant sensations, but no pain.

The use of the electric tattooing machine actually marks the moment since tattoos became for everyone; getting rid of pain, it becomes hard to resist the aestethical call of a form of art which makes us unique. Many people can have my very own dress, but my tattoo is mine only. Download here the tattoo you liked the most, and modify it according to your liking before taking it to your tattooist, or give it to hin explaining how you would like to change it.

And then... show it to everyone!



I live in Hawaii, purchased many Polynesian design books in the past, this one is the best so far... Love it! - Catana, Hawaii

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