“Would you ever get a tattoo done”, my friend asked me. With a glass of water by my side, I first quenched my thirst and asked him, “What’s the trigger for people to get tattoo? What need gap it fulfills?”
He poured water in the brown glass for me and handed it over. After a brief pause, he said- “Researches say that tattoos are a form of expressions, just like writing or photography — a form of expressing oneself; a subtle way of sharing their thoughts, emotions, story. It can be an inspiration, a rebellious thought, a nostalgia, a celebration, an association, a tradition and many more. And for many, it also revolves around driving differentiation and uniqueness to their personalities. Tattoos visibly invokes an allure, which immediately sets you onto a discovery mode about the person”.
That got me thinking. Of how and what led to start of tattooing in the first place? And I immediately googled the history of tattoos.
Tattoos have long been used as a means of identification. The Romans tattooed their criminals and slaves, a practice that was adopted by the Japanese in the early 17th century, and the Nazis tattooed numbers on the arms of Jews during the Holocaust to dehumanize concentration camp inmates and identify their corpses. Later, tattoos became popular among British sailors and on the bodies of seamen returning from the South Pacific. Egyptians used tattoos to differentiate peasants from slaves and social branding was definitely ingrained in all of those. It was interesting sneak peek into the history of tattoos.
I replied, “I would definitely want to try a tattoo of something which would be abstract in form and drives intrigue. That would be a great conversation builder with others”
He instantly retorted, “But wouldn’t tattoo be an expression of self, devoid of any external validation. It should strictly be for the person only. The art should speak, and shouldn’t need the support of any words”.
I smiled, and got up to refill my glass, and concluded the discussion, “Every form of expression in mankind is meant for sharing with an inherent desire to evoke thoughts and feelings. Tattoo, I guess historically also fulfilled that need, and for me will also do so. The art will invite thoughts and maybe conversations, with the chosen few”.