Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tattoos : An Alternative Culture

Last night my girlfriend sent me some pictures of her Mehendi colored hands. I was a bit amazed how body modification has been a priority in her life. This led to googling some pages on body art and I came across a form of art that has been there for centuries.

Tattoos, the first thing that comes to my mind about this word is a Big Babool sticker. These days tattoos have become a new form of a style statement as well as social expression. The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian "tatu" which means "to mark something."  Basically, it is all about making a social statement. Tattoo makers are termed as ‘artists’, it is a form of art.

Well, tattoos have been there for a long time now. It is arguably claimed that tattooing has existed since 12,000 years BC. It has been practiced as social & cultural symbols among many tribal populations as well as caste based Hindu population of India. Until recently, it had been confined only to the tribal life across the world. Indigenous people have used it as a social norm for centuries.

Tattoos may be of two types, the permanent tattoos in which the ink is inserted into the dermis layer of the skin to change the color pigment, and the temporary one which we generally see in the form of mehndi or stickers.

It is generally made to express one’s views about a certain philosophy or person. But, recently youths have also resorted to tattoos to express their sexuality, shyness, and other dark emotions.  Many younger people today either have aspirations to have a tattoo somewhere on their body or already have one or more. Most popular ones are the butterfly, the dragon, flowers, and other tribal symbols.

Though most governments recognized tattoo shops have sterilization machines, but still some tattoo recipients have been reported of blood poisoning, hepatitis, and the most deadly AIDS. While tattoos are patronized by the youths, still, this extreme form of body decoration has not been well accepted in the professional forums. Many jobs holders need to hide their tattoos at work.

In religion too, the Jewish, Muslim and Christian laws forbid any form of body or flesh alteration. Even though it is an art, it has been stereotyped to be against the society due to its connection with heavy metal musicians and Satanists.