Sunday, May 31, 2009

Samoan Tattoo Patterns

Samoan tattoo patterns are highly meaningful to those of that culture, and that is something we can grasp just be looking at a Samoan tattoo, even without knowing what its precise meaning is. The tattoo patterns and symbols are complex and abstract, consisting of a lot of interlocked, interwoven shapes and patterns.

As mentioned before, they are also remarkable because of the sheer expanse of skin that they occupy – and especially when the tattooing is done using the traditional methods, this is a real endurance test for the person being tattooed. Instead of needles, the skin is punctured using a pig’s tooth or shark’s tooth.

Not finishing a tattoo once it is started is a source of shame.

Though few of us would be willing to undergo the discomfort necessary to get real Polynesian tattoos, incorporating some of the symbols and patterns into a modern tattoo is a different matter. Polynesian tattoos certainly have a striking, timeless appeal.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Motives For Polynesian Tattoo

Here are some of the reasons the Polynesian people had tattoos:

  • The tattoos were a symbol of courage. The tattoo process was very painful and a lot of perseverance was needed to endure the long tattoo sessions.
  • Getting the first tattoo marks the transition between childhood and adulthood. It is a rite of passage.
  • Tattoos added to the sexual attractiveness of a man.
  • Tattoos offered protection, they were a talisman.
  • Polynesian tattoos read like a book. By looking at a tattoo, insiders get to know the social status and rank of the tattooed person.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Polynesian Tattoo

Polynesian tattoos are an ancient art that has been receiving a lot of attention in modern times. Though few of us who are not from the Polynesian islands would be willing to undergo the painful and lengthy procedure that real Polynesian tattoos necessitate, we might well be attracted to elements of the traditional tribal designs and wish to incorporate them into our own tattoos – using modern methods (most of us anyway).

The people of the Polynesian islands have evolved their own distinct culture over hundreds, even thousands of years. Though there are many islands in this area, the people all came from a common homeland – though no one is exactly sure where this might have been, or when they came or how.

Polynesia is a group of islands spread over the Pacific Ocean (over 1000; Polynesia is the Greek word for many islands). The Marquesa islands are probably where the Polynesian people came to first and they later spread to:

  • New Zealand: Aotearoa (Maori for NZ) is where the Maori people live. Tattoo art or Ta Moko as they call it, is a very important aspect of their culture. Discover all about Maori Tattoos here
  • Hawaii: Hawaiian tattoo designs are distinct from other Polynesian tattoos in that sense that they have a more personal meaning. Popular today are Hawaiian flowers, turtles and abstract tribals. Learn more about Hawaiian Tattoos

  • Easter Island (Rapa Nui): the tattoo designs of the inhabitants of the Easter Island have a huge variety: stylized boats, vaginas, spears, birds, geometrical patterns, .... Women and men had a combination of bold lines and dots on their forehead, from one ear to the other. The tattoos made their skin sacred and enabled them to communicate with the gods.
  • Samoa: Samoan tattoos are generally very large and denote the social status and rank of the man or woman who wears it. See further.
  • Tonga: the Tongan tattoo is similar to the Samoan tattoo.
  • The Cook Islands: the tattoo designs of the Cook Islands were spread over the entire body. Each tribe had its own tattoo sign.
  • French Polynesia (Tahiti): traditionally, only people of a high social ranking had tattoos. Tahitian tattoos covered the whole body, except the face. Women as well as men were tattooed. The women were tattooed at a very young age. Later they are tattooed again when they reach sexual maturity. When they desired a man, they would show their tattoos by lifting their skirts.
  • The Marquesa Islands: a group of islands in French Polynesia with a deeply rooted tattoo tradition. The people of the Marquesa islands were the most heavily tattooed of all the Polynesian tribes.
  • Several other islands which now house distinct ethnic groups.

Though they are distinct, a lot of cultural similarities remain. For example, practically all of these people practice the art of tattooing, and they do so in startlingly similar ways. Tattoo art was very important in the Polynesian culture. Because they had no written language, tattoos were used to depict social status, family history and spirituality.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Tribal Tattoo

Tribal tattoos have been in vogue for quite a while now (since the early 1990s) and it’s easy to see why, they just look good.

Advantages of getting a tribal tattoo:

The tattoos of an older Indian woman

  • There's a lot of black ink in tribal tattoos, which has the advantage that it holds up very well, black tattoo ink doesn't fade as fast as other colors.
  • Tribal tattoo designs are very popular, so as long as you don't want a specific or traditional tribal, you shouldn't have a hard time finding a good tattoo artist that can design your custom tattoo.
  • It's easier to design your own tattoo or at least a mockup of your own tribal than it is with other tattoo designs.
  • Tribal tattoos have a bold visual appeal: their thick, black curving lines and interlocking patterns lend themselves well to many of the standard tattoo locations, such as the upper arm (in the form of a tribal armband for example) , the back or the lower back.

Disadvantages of tribal tattoos:

  • Tattoo removal is not working very good on those large patches of black ink.
  • Covering them up with another tattoo ain't working either.
  • Finding a tattoo artist or tattoo parlor is not easy when you want a traditional design of a specific tribe.
  • When you're getting a tattoo that is an imitation of a traditional tribal design, keep in mind that you might be insulting the original tribe members. This is especially the case with Ta Moko, which is a form of family and personal identification of the Maori people. Copying their designs is a form a identity theft.

Tribal tattoo design

The tribal styles we see today originate from various old tribes like those from Borneo, the Haida, the Native Americans, the Celtic tribes, the Maori and other Polynesian tribes.

The shapes and motifs of these tribal tattoos are deeply rooted in the tribe's mythology and view of the world. The traditional tattoo artist aims to reflect the social and religious values of the tribe in his tattoo designs. Recurring themes are the rituals of the tribe, the ancestors, the origins of the world and the relationship with the gods.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some Pros and Cons of Foot Tattoo

Foot tattoos can look very striking – for one thing, the foot provides a nice flat place for the tattoo to lie, and for another thing, foot tattoos are rather rare and therefore sort of exotic (this was true at the time of writing, but foot tattoos are becoming rather popular nowadays, especially amongst woman). There’s no question that a foot tattoo peaking out of a sexy shoe can be very attractive.

The most popular foot tattoo designs are flower tattoos, letter tattoos and the star foot tattoo.

Sun and Moon Foot Tattoo

There are some good reasons why foot tattoos are rarer than other tattoos, though. In fact, there are some tattoo artists who won’t even undertake them (just like hand and face tattoos). For a start, tattoos on the foot and hand tend to be more painful than other tattoos.

The general rule is this: if a tattoo is right over bone, it will hurt more. If it’s on a fleshy part of your body, it’ll hurt a lot less. That’s why a shoulder or upper arm might be a better place for a first tattoo – if you’re a little worried about the pain and not sure what to expect.

For another thing, though there are many tattoo designs that look great on a foot, there is also a greater incidence of ink migration with foot tattoos. This means, simply, that the ink is likely to spread over time, blurring your tattoo design. This is possible with any tattoo, on any part of the body – but it’s more common with foot tattoos.

If you get a foot tattoo, be prepared to go back and have it re-inked if need be. The top of your foot is the best place with the least blurring, avoid other places like the sides or the toes.

Then there’s the little issue of healing. In general, a new tattoo should not be allowed to rub against clothing while it heals, which usually takes two to three weeks. For most tattoos, this is a pretty simple matter, but not for foot tattoos! Basically, depending on the placement of your tattoo designs, this may mean that you can’t wear shoes or socks for the whole time your tattoo is healing!

Some foot care tips for a shorter healing period:

  • Wear flip flops or other open shoes during the healing process so the shoe doesn't rub against the tattoo. If the flip flop touches the tattoo, then it's advisable that you get a pair of Down Unders, a kind of topless flip flop. If you really have to wear shoes, then wear 2 pair of light socks.
  • The best time for getting a tattoo on your foot is in the summer, it might be a bit cold without shoes in the winter.
  • Roll up your trousers if they touch the tattoo.
  • Keep your tattoo out of the sun.
  • Keep your feet clean, take a regular foot bath with warm water and a mild soap. Dry them by dabbing with a towel, don't rub.
  • Keep the tattoo moist by applying a good ointment (Lubriderm). Don't make it too moist or the colors will bleed.
  • Don't rub the tattoo.
  • Don't swim until the healing process is over.
  • Keep in mind that walking could be difficult the first few days because of foot pain. If possible take a few days off from work.
  • Find a tattoo artist who has experience doing foot tattoos. Ask him for advice.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Butterfly Celebrity Tattoo

Here's a list of celebrities that have a butterfly tattoo:

  • Drew Barrymore: has one on her abdomen, right under her belly button.
  • Maria Carey: has a lower back butterfly tattoo (fake or not?).
  • Paris Hilton: has a small butterfly tattoo on her back (could be temporary).
  • Kelis: has a butterfly on her stomach.
  • Dolly Parton: country star with a flutterby on her chest.
  • Julia Roberts: has a lower back butterfly.
  • Britney Spears: has a butterfly tattoo on her left foot.

To sum it up: butterfly tattoos are among the most versatile tattoo images, which helps explain their popularity with women. They are inherently feminine, but not necessarily ‘girly’ and you can make either a bold or subtle statement with butterfly tattoo art. All of this means that we are likely to see even more butterfly tattoos in the years to come.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Celtic Tattoos

Celtic knots (aka mystic knot, endless knot) work really well as a tattoo design or part of a tattoo. The symbolic meaning of Celtic knots is not really clear, although some people attribute magical powers to the knots.

For me, Celtic knot tattoos symbolize eternity because the lines of the knotwork form an endless loop, without a beginning or an end.

The Celtic trinity knot is a very simple, but powerful symbol and very suitable for a tattoo. It is a triangle knot, the 3 corners have various meanings:

Celtic trinity knot tattoo

Celtic Trinity Knot Tattoo

  • Christian: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Pagan: Mother, Crone and Maiden
  • New age: Mind, body and spirit

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Celtic Butterfly Tattoo

Celtic butterfly tattoos are quite popular nowadays as well. Butterflies have a similar symbolic meaning in many cultures:

Celtic butterfly tattoo

  • The butterfly is a symbol for rebirth and transformation. Just like a beautiful butterfly comes out of his cocoon, the person who wears a butterfly tattoo has gone through some difficult times and is ready to face the world again.
  • In some cultures the butterfly is the personification of someone's soul.

The Celtic butterfly tattoo is often quite small and feminine looking, making it appropriate for the ankle or shoulder. The butterfly is also often seen as a lower back tattoo, adorned with Celtic swirls.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Celtic Cross Tattoo

The Celtic cross (aka Irish cross) is the standard Christian cross, but with a circle around the intersection. Intricate knotwork adorns the cross, making it both simple (in its overall design) and complex at the same time.

The legend goes that the Celtic cross was "designed" by Saint Patrick who was trying to convert the pagan Irish people. The Celtic cross is a combination of the Christian cross and the sun, which was worshipped by the druids.

The Celtic cross is also used by neo-fascist movements, albeit in a very simple design and without ornamentations.

The meaning of Celtic crosses is not really clear and varies a lot:

  • For Catholic people the circle is a symbol of eternity, for them the Celtic cross symbolizes the infinity of God's love.
  • In the ancient world of the druids, the Celtic cross was a phallic symbol.
  • For neo pagans the Celtic cross is the symbol for the sun.

A Celtic cross is a popular choice for the upper arm – a great spot in general to put a tattoo, as that location makes it easy to hide it and show it, as you wish.

Also popular (amongst neo pagans) is the ankh cross tattoo in the Celtic style. The ankh cross is Egyptian in origin and has many meanings as well. Go here to learn more about ankh tattoos

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lower Back Butterfly Tattoo

Lower back butterfly tattoos are usually larger, more stylized butterfly images that stretch across the lower back, one of the most popular places to get a tattoo nowadays (but also known as a tramp stamp).

Actually, butterfly tattoos lend themselves very well to this location. The butterfly image is very symmetrical, so the middle can easily be lined up with the spine, the wings extending on either side. This makes the butterfly wings longer and more stretched out than they would be in nature, but the image can be very attractive.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly tattoos are primarily female tattoos and they come in a great variety of shapes and sizes. Insects are not the most popular tattoo design, except for butterflies and dragonflies. Butterfly tattoos are the 4th most popular tattoo design, after tribal, star and cross tattoos and they are probably the most popular feminine design.

The butterfly tattoo is pretty and feminine without being overly flowery or sentimental. Butterflies have always been an inspiration for visual arts, such as the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt a couple of thousand years ago.

Butterfly tattoos are a good choice for a first tattoo because the design doesn't need to be big to be striking. A small butterfly tattoo (life sized or smaller) on an ankle or shoulder can be a pretty and graceful accent to your natural beauty.

Butterfly tattoos can have a lot of meanings, depending on the person or culture. Here's an overview:

  • Often a butterfly tattoo is a symbol of rebirth and transformation: the "ugly" and slow caterpillar transforms inside its cocoon to the beautiful creature that a butterfly is. Having a tattoo of a butterfly symbolizes a new life, a new beginning after having gone through some rough times.
  • Delicate beauty: a butterfly is small and very delicate, but also very colorful and full of beautiful details. On the other hand, it is not so delicate like most people think: contrary to the widespread belief, you can't kill a butterfly by touching its wings.
  • A butterfly tattoo can be a symbol of freedom.
  • In some cultures, like the Christian, the butterfly symbolizes a person's soul. The Greek word for butterfly for example, also means soul.
  • In Japan they believe that if a butterfly flies into your guestroom, the person you love the most will come to you soon.
  • Also in Japan, a large swarm of butterflies is seen as a bad omen.
  • The Russian word for butterfly resembles the word for grandmother.
  • In China, two butterflies fluttering together are a symbol for love.
  • In some cultures it means good luck when a butterfly lands on you. Imagine the luck you'll be having when you have one on you permanently.
  • The phrase "having butterflies in your stomach" is a way of saying you are in love (or just very very nervous).
  • For the ancient Aztecs, butterflies were the souls of deceased warriors or women who died while giving birth.
  • For some people a butterfly means peace.
  • And for some people the butterfly resembles a woman's genitals

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Female Tattoo

Female tattoos – or tattoos that are feminine in design, and are usually favored by women or girls – are becoming more and more common.

For the first fifty or sixty years after tattooing became commonplace and even mainstream in modern society, few women got tattoos – in fact, those that did were the exception and usually a touch eccentric or rebellious.

All that changed about twenty years ago when tattooing became more socially acceptable, largely due to the many celebrities who publicly sported tattoos. Some of these were women, and so the female tattoo became more common and acceptable. Nowadays most people find female tattoos sexy and attractive, they certainly aren't offensive anymore.

That having been said it’s still true that more men than women get tattoos and it’s even true that there is a little element of social rebellion inherent in a woman’s decision to get a tattoo, although this is less and less the case, tattoos are more like a fashion item these days.

However, female ink is no longer shocking, and we no longer jump to conclusions about a woman’s moral character based on whether or not she has a few tattoos!