The tattoo – Ancient times


When did people consciously started carrying drawings on their skin first? – That is one of the questions that we might never be able to answer. The researchers never managed to come to an agreement on that question. Some affirm that body painting has started about 6000 years ago. Others claim that tattooing began before 60000 years.

Maybe people in ancient times tattooed their bodies with drawings that served as their passports. We can not know that for sure. Archaeologists have found mummies in the Egyptian Pyramids, which had drawings on the skin. They were from about 4000 years ago. The mummy’s bodies were covered with many interesting and complicated tattoo designs. That means, obviously that by then (4000 years ago) tattooing was already an art.


Probably tattooing had come earlier – when there were still tribes. The invention of the tattoo was by accident. When people back then injured their skin, usually some dust went into the wound. Because of the dust, their skin started to heal in a different way – it healed slower, but its color changed and that way something like a permanent drawing appeared on the body. That drawing became very special for tribes’ people, because most of the time, the injury that they had, was from a fight with an animal for example. That was considered a sign of bravery and courage. Soon after, people began cutting their skin on purpose. That way they marked their strength and braveness.

Sometimes, the different families from the tribes had the same tattoos. That way they showed their connection with each other. That was a kind of the so called “clan” tattoo. Many people back then believed that the tattoo has magical powers and that it protects people and helps them with the hunting. Tattoos were often made for marking the belonging of the people to a particular group – family, clan, tribe or profession. Of great importance were the size, the place and the colors of the tattoo. They were all strictly defined from the tradition.

The tribes distinguished from each other by the tattoos. For example, the drawing of an animal on the body, symbolized nobility, but it also carried a lot of information about the origin of the particular clan. The inhabitants of the Polynesian islands had one certain animal drawn on their bodies, while the American tribes tattooed their bodies with drawings of people, fighting with animals. The noble Maoris had symmetrical, but not very complicated tattoos on their bodies. From the work of many famous writers, becomes clear that people in Ancient Greece and other ancient nations had tattooing as art too.



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