Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Getting Ink Done

I never really thought about getting a tattoo. In my youth, piercing was the weird and wonderful thing to do . . . My Grandpa had a dancing Hawaian girl and a navy anchor on his arm but the rest of the family remained ink free. DrummerBoy toyed with the idea of a tattoo to shock his mother but since it didn’t have the desired effect and he basically couldn’t afford it, nothing happened. ClareBear resisted the temptation despite a number of trips to Byron Bay where pretty much everyone gets ink done. Something to do with her fear of the needle.

Char at work had a huge butterfly tattoed on her back at age 35 and Butterfly Girl has had one since she was 18 – her dad bought it for her! Nickers has a huge one across his shoulders saying “Offensive” and it is! He’ll regret it because he’s a puny red-head who couldn’t knock the skin of a rice pudding. I think the Cricketer actually had a sort of Gallic sword on his leg from memory but I could be wrong. I really hate the biker gang tats of naked women and curly snakes which cover the entirety of the arm – looks like they need a good wash or the 'family' kind like M & M's tattoo of his daughter on his arm, it’s tacky and tasteless.

Some however, are interesting . . .LucyLoop designed her own little grape vine around her lovely tanned upper arm and I’ve always been a sucker for a tattoed Polynesian since my stay in Tahiti many years ago.

I must confess, I’ve never been much of a rebel so didn’t see the need in my youth nor am I a fan now I’m older . . .a s you get old and fat, the colours fade and the design spreads. It got me thinking about the ‘need’ and I found a few snippets on tatoo-ology:

Ta Moko is the tapu (sacred) form of family and personal identification among those of Maori whakapapa (genealogy). Genealogy is so important to the Maori people that they know their family history back 2000 years. Moko is the process of carving (cutting deep grooves) and coloring a family history story-telling pattern into the skin of a Maori descendant. Copying these styles is considered very rude as they are specific to the Maori and their ancestry. “Nuv” my friend’s daughter’s boyfriend has just asked his uncles permission for his first tatoo . . . He’s 21.

The most common Chinese tattoos are ones that are supposed to represent ideas and qualities like love or strength. For centuries, the Chinese dragon has been a symbol of power and mystery. In fact, Chinese people all over the world are affectionately known as "lung de chuan ren", or the "descendants of the dragon". It’s also the symbol of the Shao Lin Monks and Chinese Triads. Funny, I live in a huge Chinese community but you don’t see many traditional tattoos at all. I guess they’re out of fashion these days.

Getting tattooed was also seen as a rite of passage into adulthood for tribal communities. A belief goes that if a girl can't take the pain of tattooing, she is un-marriageable, because she will never be able to deal with the pain of child birth. As if there’s any comparison between a bit of ink being done on your upper arm and squeezing out a watermelon! If a boy can't deal with the pain he is considered to be a bad risk as a warrior, and could become isolated from the tribe or grow up to become a computer geek and rule the world. Indigenous Australians do it the civilised way and paint their bodies rather than create something more permanent.

Kanji Tatoos are of Japanese phrases but given the poor understanding of the English language can be disastrous when translated. You need to know exactly what your kanji characters mean before you get them emblazened on your flesh. There have been instances of people brandishing beautiful kanji characters that actually say:
  • Extremely Military
  • Affairs Stopping
  • Crazy Diarrohea
I’m a bit nervous about broaching this one after a recent conversation with a highly qualified Anthropologist friend of mine.

The history of the Celtic peoples goes back thousands of years. The early Celts displayed their skills in complex artwork particularly metal, jewelry and weapons as they were regarded as fierce warriors by the Romans. Evidence of celtic crossses and celtic artwork can still be found all over Ireland.
The ancient Celts passed knowledge down through an oral tradition of storytelling and didn't keep many written records, consequently, there is little evidence of their tattooing remaining even though celtic cross tattoos and celtic knot tattoos are very popular designs.
Most of Celtic tattoo designs are taken from the Irish Illuminated Manuscripts 'The Book of Kells', on display in the library of Trinity College in Dublin. Knots with no end and designs with a never ending path may represent the permanence and the continuum of life, love and faith.

So there you go . . . getting ink done . . . just go to a reputable tattooist and if it’s a detailed one, make sure you’ve got an expert. Or, buy one of those little black sticky ones . . .it’ll wear off by the time you’re sick of it.


Kate said...

My mother, maternal grandmother and I all have matching tattoos - sunshines wearing sunglasses, on our left side a bit above the pelvic bone. They do get a bit faded, and the smile gets verrrrrrry wide when I'm verrrrrrry pregnant, but it's a pretty neat shared legacy, I think.

My other is a green gecko on my right ankle. Neither was about rebellion so much as commemorating a certain time or relationship in my life. When I'm certain I'm done having children, I'll get another tattoo incorporating their names, likely in a Celtic knot on my lower back.

We'll see...

Damian said...

Want to see some REAL awesome tattoos?

Geek Tattoos... check em...

Baino said...

Well what groovy grannies! I'm chicken and never found one that I felt strongly enough to go through the pain for. Why celtic? You're an Irish American too . . .I'm surrounded by them!

Baino said...

So where's your hidden ink Benchwarmer? Saw you in your dressing gown yesterday so not on your leg!

K8 said...

I've been wanting to get inked for years now, but still unsure of what and where...

I always wonder if anthropologists in the far future will find our bodies... as much as I like Chinese tattoos, I don't think I'd like to be identified by one. It would have to be a symbol to define my own culture without being cheesy. It's a tough desicion!!

Brianf said...

I got my first tat at the tender age of 19. It is called a, "meat tag". It is a tat of all the info from my dog tag tattooed on my butt. The idea was conveyed to me like this, If you get your head blown off you still have ID in your boot and on your ass. If your legs get blown off, you still have 2 forms of ID and if you get your legs and head blown off we'll still know where to send the remains.
My 2nd one is my social security number as a bar code. I figure when I die I'm not going to stand in line at the pearly gates but instead they can scan me right in.
The 3rd I got about 2 years ago. It is far from done. It is a Celtic cross on my left shoulder. When finished there will be two bands under it that will be Celtic knots. It will cover my left arm from the shoulder to just above the elbow.

Baino said...

Ha Brian, it's the 5th June and I just read your tat story. Pearly gates huh . . you're optimistic. Nice image of someone mailing your butt cheek home for Christmas. I'm almost afraid to ask where the bar code is. Celtic's OK just don't go drawing half naked girls in hula skirts or pictures of your dawg.