History of the Tattoo… Japanese ~

Tracy Previously I posted  History of a Tattoo and focused on the Polynesian style tattoo.  I will move the focus this time to the Japanese tattoo to continue the exploration of the different styles we are all drawn to.

Are tattoos no longer considered taboo?  Whether your like them or not you can’t open a magazine without seeing the men and women who adorn them.  As I said in my previous post “I love tattoos, always have and always will”.  I am drawn to those who have them out of curiosity of wanting to know the story behind the art they have permanently placed on their skin as a form of self expression until the day they die.  Have tattoos completely become acceptable in our World today.  If so it has not always been like this.

Check this out!

Japanese ~

Tattooing was considered a normal part of Japanese society until the Kofun period which ran from 300 to 600 AD when it started receiving a negative connotation.  The tattoo was previously used to designate spiritual influences as well as social status, but after this period in Japanese history, the tattoo would be used as a mark to distinguish criminals.

All the way up until the Edo period (1600 -1868 AD) the Japanese tattoos would undergo many positive and negative changes.  On the positive side they were considered a form of social status or religious belief, on the negative side, due to the Kofun period, criminals would start to use the tattoo for their own purposes.   It was not until recent times that it became a true art form as a means of self expression.

The earliest evidence of tattooing in Japan was found in the form of clay figurines which have faces painted or engraved to represent tattoo marks.  The oldest figurines have been recovered from tombs dated 3,000 BC or older.  The figurines were stand-ins for living individuals who symbolically accompanied the dead on their journey into the unknown.  It is also believed  they had magical significance.

There have been debates over whether the traditional tattoos were adorn by those of great wealth or those of lower status, but one thing stands true is that the Japanese tattoos have been considered throughout time as some of the most magnificent works of body art our world has seen.

Japanese tattooThe traditional Japanese tattoos were nothing less than complex works of art that would be able to tell another person an entire story.  Some of these stories would tell of a great battle, myth or folklore.  Japanese tattoos were and still are considered to be some of the most elaborate works of body art.

In many cases though, as anyone who has had a tattoo knows, there are certain colors that work with certain skin pigments and in the case of the traditional Japanese tattoos, all of these were done in either blue or green as these always came out the best.  That’s not to say that other colors don’t look just as good, but if you are going for a traditional looking Japanese tattoo then those are the colors to go with.

The ‘horis’ or Japanese tattoo artist were the undisputed masters.  Their use of colours, perspective and imaginative designs gave the practise a whole new angle.  The classic Japanese tattoo is a full body suit.  Now that’s a commitment!

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