Worldly Wednesday: Tats

‘Tis Wednesday, when I serve up some words with international flavor, or anything that has to do with the world. Like globes. Or chins. Most people in the world have chins.

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I recently watched an interesting National Geographic show on this thing called a TV. The show was called Taboo: Tattoo. Ha. Funny title, huh? NEways, it was 45 minutes of one cool tat after the other.

Did you know there are tattoo competitions? Did you know that if you see a certain tattoo on a man’s hand in Malaysia–it means he’s chopped off someone’s head? Did you know a Maasai toddler’s rite of passage is cutting designs into his face? I find it all fascinating. SO, take a trip with me around the world and we’ll see how different tats can represent culture. Can you guess where each person came from?

A.)

B.)

C.)

D.)

E.)

F.)


                                                                          G.)

H.) (Photo by Sven Rudolph Jan)

I.)

Did you get them all?

Answers:

A.) Hawaiin/Polynesian

B.) Irish

C.) Indian or North African

D.) Russian

E.) Maasai people of Kenya/North Tanzania

F.) USA

G.) Head hunter from Malaysia

H.) Papua New Guinea

I.) Japanese

Tell me:

Do you think a tattoo says something about a culture . . . or sub-culture? Have you seen any cool tattoos lately?

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30 Comments

  1. Tattabulous post, Ellie!

    Reply
  2. Wow!! I’m not sure it’s a good idea to advertise that you chopped someone’s head off, but I guess they think differently about the matter in Malaysia. I actually quite like my own tattoo – it’s an ankh (key of life) and it starts on the next vertebra down from the big knobbly one on the back of my neck. Goes about three or four inches down between my shoulder blades. And yes, it did hurt. The bottom was fine, but the further up he got, the closer he was to the bone. OUCH.

    I really like tribal designs – not sure I’d ever get one, but I can’t imagine it hurting more than the first one did!

    The big question: do YOU have any tats?

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      The ankh down the back sounds really cool! Great idea. Did you design it yourself?
      I don’t have any tats. I think some of them look amazing – but I’ve just never seen myself with one before. I’ll stick with piercings. lol.

      Reply
  3. I used to draw designs all over my arms and legs, pretending they were tattoos. I could never get a real one though because I couldn’t possibly find something I wouldn’t ever get bored of having. I guess I’ll stick to my Bic tats.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      Yeah, the permanency of tats scare a lot of people, I think. But some tats you could enjoy forever. Like…Prince William and Princess Kate’s profiles tattooed on your teeth – that would never get old! ;) (true story)

      Reply
  4. Guy A) is hawt.

    That is all.

    Reply
  5. EllieAnn,

    Were you PEEKING in our house yesterday?! Last night, our oldest (18) got a tattoo. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision; he’s been wanting one for a long time. He saved his money, did his homework to make sure it was a clean, reputable place, found out what he needed to do to take care of it as it healed, and put a lot of thought into what design he wanted. He picked an eagle, with his baby brother’s name underneath, to put on his chest. He adores his little brother. He said the process took three painful hours (no way was I going to see him get it), and he needed to take breaks, but he’s SO happy with it.

    I’m not thrilled, but he’s an adult, and made the decision in an adult way, so we’re been supportive.

    What a coincidence you posted this today! And speaking of coincidences, the day before he got the tatt, a bald eagle swooped across the road not ten feet above my car. We never see them unless we go to a local park where they are known to nest. At that time, I didn’t know our son had decided on an eagle for a tattoo. Sign? *chills*

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      That’s a cool tattoo story, Kathy! I think almost every mother cringes at our “baby” getting tattoos, ’cause we love ‘em just the way they are!! LoL. But your son sounds like he was thoughtful about the process… You can appreciate that! :)

      Reply
  6. Wow, so cool… I’m going to have to use the concept of “rite of passage” type tattoos somewhere. Thanks for sharing, Ellie. Really enjoyed this.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      Absolutely! Adding a rite of passage like tattoos or cutting can make a fantasy culture feel more real!

      Reply
  7. I have loved tattoos ever since I started noticing them on musicians I liked (Janis Joplin, Guns ‘n Roses). I am old enough to remember when there was quite a stigma still attached to tattoos. When I was thirty–and in the doldrums–I started getting them. At current count, I have 12. I didn’t think any of them hurt. I dozed while I got them.

    For some people, tattoos are just a trend. You know, you get one because everybody you know has one. I know two women (both in their early 30s) who did that. For some people–like me–tattoos are my Sailor Ripley thing. They’re a symbol of my belief in personal freedom.

    The coolest tattoo I’ve ever seen? I really like Maori tattooing. I also like seeing people’s tattoos of celebrities or fictional characters. Something I want to get? A “horror” tattoo, complete with an autumn tree, ravens, and tombstones. Will I ever get it? I don’t know. It would be an awfully big money and time commitment.

    Thanks for a cool blog.

    Reply
    • Jess Witkins

       /  June 29, 2011

      ooh, if you get your horror tattoo you must post pictures!

      Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      Yes! Although, “because it look awesome,” is a good-enough response to the ‘why’ question of tattoos, it’s much cooler if there’s a story or symbol that goes along with the tat! =)

      Reply
  8. Jess Witkins

     /  June 29, 2011

    I like tattoos! Just got my third this summer. I think they’re beautiful, body art. And for a lot of people, there’s a story behind them, like Kathy’s son, getting a tattoo with his brother’s name. Plus, the tattoo artists are so talented. They draw up these amazing images in no time and all create gorgeous images. I’m consistently impressed. The branding thing that’s become popular lately freaks me out a bit though. I wouldn’t want to burn an image into my skin. *shudder*

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      There’s always a limit, no? There will always be something new people will try (like branding) to test the limits. It’s good for the progression of culture, but I’m totally with you. I’m too must of a daisy to even give branding a second thought.

      Reply
  9. I am afraid of tattoos. Especially on the back. The tattoo artist could be putting anything there and saying, ‘Oh, Ryne, it looks awesome.’

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      LoL! But the tattoo conspiracy wouldn’t stop there, as the artist will have called your wife saying, “Ryne thinks Jack Sparrow’s skull & crossbones is tattooed on his back but I really tattooed Robert Pattison’s profile next to a full moon.” And then your wife will compliment you on how mean the skull and crossbones look, & the shame will continue until your next visit to the beach when dozens of tweens ask “Aren’t you excited for Breaking Dawn?!?” …And you start to suspect something. Good point, Ryne. You better leave off tattoos. Either that, or invest in a full-length mirror or something. ;)

      Reply
  10. Donna

     /  June 29, 2011

    I’ve seen some Tattoos that are Religious. There was a girl on the news, she was suspended from school for refusing to remove her pierced-nose jewelry. Her church confirmed that it is a true religion. Piercings & Tattoos show your faith. I can’t remember what the religion’s name is called.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      Interesting comment! I know the Hindi have a ’tilak,’ or, red dot tattooed on their foreheads.

      Reply
  11. emilieg

     /  June 29, 2011

    Ellie, I see pretty fascinating tattoos on faces around me, even just going to the store or through the market. They’re the scars drawn across the face… lines, dots, around the eyes or across the nose or lines through the forehead. Last week one man around my age at the border had a point beginning above his eyes, and each line went opposite directions across his forehead, but they’d cut the scars so deeply through his hair that the line extended all the way to join at the back of his head.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      Emilie-
      You need to start taking pictures of all the cool tattoos! It might become a forgotten art in Uganda one of these days. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  12. I didn’t try to guess but the guy in picture A…yum.

    I love tats with a story behind them. I haven’t gotten one yet myself but have dreams for two different tats…one day :)

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      I like asking people about their tattoos…you can get some pretty cool stories that way! What tats do you want to get?

      Reply
  13. malindalou

     /  June 29, 2011

    Awesome post! I’m getting a tattoo myself this fall. First time ever and never thought I’d ever get one. I had minor breast surgery last year and I hate the scar. Getting a butterfly around it to turn something ugly into something pretty. I too never used to be so sure about the whole permanence thing but the scar’s going to always be there one way or the other.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  June 29, 2011

      Oh I love your story! To turn something ugly into something beautiful is a really great thought. =)

      Reply
  14. I am extremely happy I discovered this excellent post! You’re extremely accurate!!
    I wish some other people would feel the same as you and me! Keep up the nice content I am reviewing you now : )

    Reply
  15. There was a brief period of time when I tried to talk my husband into bribing to our children to refrain from getting tattooed before finishing college, like maybe a million dollars. Good thing he didn’t listen because the oldest graduates next Saturday, and doesn’t have any (at least none in any of the places designated for Mom viewing). Saved us a lot of money. I agree with whoever it was above who said something about tattoos not being a temporary trend. People have tattooed themselves for eons, just no people in my tribe. No, wait. My niece — on her wrist, a lightening bolt after her father had a stroke. OK, that one is actually kind of cool. AM I COMING AROUND? I’ll wait until the younger one graduates. Keep working on me EllieAnn.

    Reply

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