Pretty in ink: getting under the skin of tattoos
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Cultural tradition, fashion trend, drunken mistake or form of a therapy - tattoos can have very different meanings. The trend for body art has been growing in popularity in the UK, although the practice is frowned upon or even taboo in some environments. Meaningful and decorative? Sinful and ridiculous? No one is really sure how it all started but tattoos come from a rich cultural history; the oldest one ever found belongs to a 5300 year old iceman Oetzi. His tats were not very creative: a bunch of horizontal and vertical lines was all he got inked with. In fact, rumour has it the tattoos were created as a form of acupuncture to relieve painful joints and not to express his deep inner feelings. The popularity of tattoos, like every craze, has had its ups and downs but it is one of the very few trends that, for a long time and in many communities, has been a subject of taboo. They used to be the symbol of demonism, cannibalism and paganism, to be then associated with sailors, criminals and circus performers, back in the day when those characters were on the out reaches of society. In many places they are still very controversial. I grew up in a rather conservative environment where tattoos used to automatically pigeon-hole a person as a gang member/drug dealer/devil’s next-of-kin (yes, the environment was quite religious too). I could have gone with the flow and be prejudiced. Or be rebellious and get one. Neither side was convincing enough though. I was friends with guys with tats and although I thought some of them were actually quite cool, I never considered myself an ink person. Until a couple of months ago.
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