It has been claimed that tattooing has been around since 12,000BC. Tattoos have always played an important role in ritual and tradition.
Throughout history tattoos have signified membership to a society or tribal group but have also long been a form of body decoration.
Some of the earliest tattoos were found in Egypt during the time of the construction of the great pyramids. In around 2000BC tattooing spread to China.
Roman’s marked criminals and slaves and Greeks used tattooing for communication among spies. Special markings would identify a spy and his rank. In Eastern Asia young girls coming of age would be tattooed to show their social status, as were married women.
In Polynesia tattoos developed to mark tribal communities, families and rank. In New Zealand the Maori’s developed a full tattoo that covered the face called a “Moko” Every Moko contains ancestral/tribal messages that pertain to the wearer. These messages narrate a wearer’s family and ancestors as well as their sub-tribal and tribal affiliations and their placing within these social structures.
Tattooing in Japan was first used to mark criminals. First offences were marked with a line across the forehead. If a second crime was committed an arch was added to the forehead and for a third offence another line was added. Together these three marks formed the Japanese character for “dog”. It is thought that this is where the term “Three strikes and you’re out” came from.
In India they make Henna tattoos. The dye is made from the crushed leaves of the henna plant and has been practiced for over 5000 years. This is temporary body art and is used frequently for celebrations and important occasions such as weddings.
History of Modern Tattooing
Tattooing in Europe was relatively small when many other parts of the world had been practicing the art for centuries. But when James Cook returned from the Pacific and other explorers returned with natives covered in their art, people were fascinated. Soon the upper-class were getting small tattoos in discreet places. But all couldn’t bare the painstaking ritual so it did not become more widespread. At this time each puncture of the skin was done by hand as the ink was applied and it was very time consuming, and very painful.
In 1891 the first electric tattooing machine was patented. It was based on Edison’s electric pen which punctured paper with a needle point. This allowed anyone to obtain a reasonably priced and readily available tattoo and soon the middle and lower classes could easily get a tattoo and the upper classes turned away from it.
At about this time tattooing lost it’s credibility and tattoo artists were doing most of their work in the sleazier sections of town. Tattooing went underground. The art couldn’t be learnt in a school and hygiene was a big issue.
Tattoos and tattooing have made a come back in the last decade and are increasingly seen to have a more visible role in today’s mainstream pop culture. Celebrities, rock-stars, movie stars, sports stars, even elite super models are proudly displaying their body art.
Tattoos were often harsh pictures of evil in the early days but these days tattoos can be of practically anything which can make them popular with anybody.
Tattoo practices today also follow strict guidelines in hygiene, making the practice much safer than it used to be.
Some people get permanent tattoos that enhance their eyebrows, lips (lipstick or liner), eyes (shadow, mascara), and even moles for those that like the Madonna look. These enhancements are usually made with natural colours as they need to resemble makeup. The prices of these procedures are much higher than temporary tattooing as they need to be performed by permanent makeup artists that are licenced to perform such procedures.
Tattoo and Designs in The Tribe
As you’ll know Tribal Markings are a big part of The Tribe. The Mallrats each had the mark of the amulet on their hands to show they were from the Mallrats but they each also wear their own tribal designs for individuality.
The Eco Tribe also had a group emblem which was a green hand shape with the palm of the hand being a swirl. This was often placed on the cheek but was also on the tops of some of the member’s hands.
For Salene’s wedding a henna type tattoo was painted on her back in gold. It was very intricate. Unfortunately it was a little hard to see on camera but Victoria loved it!
Slade’s tattoo was painted on his arm every day by the makeup department and Matt Robinson actually developed tan lines around it during the 5 month shoot.
The Techno’s tribal markings were to show their tribal affiliation and also their rank. Each Techno had the Techno symbol on their forehead and generals had red lines on the sides of their face. Three if they were a general like Jay.
The Techno’s didn’t stop at tattooing and marking themselves though. As soon as they put barriers up around the city they wanted to keep tabs on everyone within the boundary and everyone they could possibly round up was given a bar code on their arm. Scanned in and scanned out.
We know you love some of the unusual and colourful markings that are used in The Tribe so why don’t you send us a couple of your own designs to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll show a few of our favourites in the next few Tribe Fanclub Newsletter.