Tattoos to You

Recently we have noted people’s tattoos. How fun and meaningful they are. That has not always been the case. Throughout cultures, in eras past, tattoos have been both shunned and venerated. Dating from 5,000 years ago, in Japanese cultures, tatts identified gangs and slaves. Similar to today in different regions of the world.

On the other hand, ancient Egyptian themes centered on fertility and protection in childbirth, the arts and dance.

European Influence

The Picts and Celts of Scotland and Ireland sported fierce body art that duly impressed the Roman soldiers who admired the virile images and feared the fierce warriors.

Europe’s relation with tattoos has been influenced by the several other cultures that invaded over centuries. Again, its fortunes rose and fell as cultures adopted for signs of wealth or as ways to identify slaves. The sordid history of tattoos associated with Nazis soured Americans on tattoos until more recent years.  Today, people of all ages and social statuses sport tattoos. Most have special meaning to the person displaying them.

Here are a few we’ve chatted with people about.

Kate started the quest for stories at the recent Outdoor Writers Association of America conference at Gulf Shores, Alabama. When she travels she researches tattoo artists in the cities and countries she plans to visit, scans their electronic portfolios, checks their credentials, and connects with them. From standard to fine lines, and from nature to sayings by loved ones, each tells stories important to her and is a memento of trips.

Nature themes are popular. The phoenix theme rising again and a nod to the tattoo owner’s children and the magpie is often interpreted as a sign of good luck.

Egyptian themes have resonated with librarians and “mermaids!” Harthor, the Goddess of fertility, love, and protection in birth & parenting; the “good luck” scarab beetle; and cats, are always venerated in Egyptian mythology.

Triangles connect family, Buttercup, of the Powerpuff Girls, the animated TV series from the 1990s inspires humor and superpowers. The State of Kansas motto shines brightly on this man’s arm.

Sailors popularized tattoos in the 1700s when returning from long voyages, especially from the Pacific Islands, sporting elaborate tatts. Of course, soon, royalty had to follow. Purportedly even Winston Churchill and his mother had tattoos.

The popularity of tattoos is on the rise with personalized images and sayings in full display.