By Katherine Brooks
Oh, the tattoo. From an innocuous badge inked ever so carefully on one’s back to a blanket of color flowing from the shoulders to the ankles, the world has proven the tradition of permanently adorning the body with artwork is here to stay. Hidden from sight or paraded in public, designed by professionals or picked and poked by amateurs, humans just can’t get enough of this particular brand of body modification. Take, for example, a Harris poll from 2012, which declared that in the U.S. alone, one in five individuals had chosen to bring needle to flesh. That’s 20% of the adults surveyed, for those bad with fractions.
Photo and Caption by Michal Duchek
A fascinating culture of the Igorot people brought me and my girlfriend to Kalinga. Head-hunting ceased decades ago, however, the motifs of Kalinga tattoos and the way they are being tattoed remains the same (charcoal and an orange thorn). We decided to visit this beautiful tribeswoman who is the last Kalinga tattoo artist. After a few days, long hours spent on buses and jeepneys, we were lucky to find a local guide Francis who brought us to Buscalan. We were overwhelmed how hospitable and friendly she is. Her natural beauty and her tattoo tempted me to ask her for a pose outside her dwelling.
Location: Buscalan village, Kalinga, North Luzon, Philippines
By Sara Barnes
By Gene J. Koprowski
A mummy of an Egyptian woman dating back to 700 A.D. has been scanned and stripped to reveal a tattoo on her thigh that displays the name of the biblical archangel Michael.
The discovery, announced by researchers at the British Museum over the weekend, was made during a research project that used advanced medical scans, including Computed Tomography (CT) images, to examine Egyptian mummies at a number of hospitals in the United Kingdom last year.
The woman’s body was wrapped in a woolen and linen cloth before burial, and her remains were mummified in the desert heat. As deciphered by curators, the tattoo on her thigh, written in ancient Greek, reads Μιχαήλ, transliterated as M-I-X-A-H-A, or Michael.
Curators at the museum speculate that the tattoo was a symbol worn for religious and spiritual protection, though they declined to offer additional details.
‘Michael is an obvious identity for a tattoo, as this is the most powerful of angels.’
- Maureen Tilley, professor of theology at Fordham University
But other scientists and theologians offered their thoughts on the tattoo’s cultural context.
“There was a sizable Christian population in Egypt in the 700s, perhaps close to a majority of the population,” said Maureen Tilley, professor of theology at Fordham University in New York.
“Like Greeks and Romans across the Mediterranean, the portion of the population that was literate was fascinated by the shapes of letters and delighted in making designs with letters in names. Hence, we have the odd shape of the tattoo composed of the letters.”
Placing the name of a powerful heavenly protector on one’s body by a tattoo or amulet was very common in antiquity, Tilley told Foxnews.com. “Christian women who were pregnant often placed amulets with divine or angelic names on bands on their abdomens to insure a safe delivery of their child,” she said.
“Placing the name on the inner thigh, as with this mummy, may have had some meaning for the hopes of childbirth or protection against sexual violation, as in ‘This body is claimed and protected.’ Michael is an obvious identity for a tattoo, as this is the most powerful of angels.”
Christian Gnostics, religious cultists in that era, were especially interested in the names and functions of intermediary beings between humans and the divine, Tilley noted.
“The Gospel of Truth and the Book of Enoch were both popular among them and have much about an angel whose story sounds very much like that of Archangel Michael in many Christian stories, the angel who led the heavenly army against Satan and the Fallen Angels.”
She added that Christians were not the only ones to use the names of angelic powers in ancient days. “Jews of antiquity were fascinated by the identity and nature of angels,” she said.
Villanova University biology professor Michael Zimmerman, who also has used advanced technologies to study Egyptian mummies, said this kind of find has been sought for years.
“I did participate in an expedition to the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt’s western desert several years ago,” he told FoxNews.com. “This was an early Christian site (around 200 AD), and the deceased were still being mummified, by simply being dried in the very hot climate.
“We did not see any tattoos on those mummies, so the British Museum find is remarkable.”
The museum, which is located in London, will reveal what it has learned about this and seven other mummies in “Ancient Lives: New Discoveries,” an exhibition scheduled to run from May 22 to Nov. 30.
John Taylor, lead curator of the ancient Egypt and Sudan department at the museum, told a local newspaper over the weekend that the exhibition will tell the story of the lives of eight people from antiquity, portraying them as full human beings, rather than as archeological objects.
Using sophisticated medical imaging usually reserved to study strokes and heart attacks, the research team discovered that these eight ancient individuals, whose remains have been held in the museum for some time, had many of the same traits that modern man does, including dental problems, high cholesterol levels and tattoos.
The exhibition portrays one mummy that dates back to 3,500 BC, as well as the tattooed female, aged between 20 and 35, who lived and died about 1,300 years ago. Researchers pointed out that regular Egyptians – not only the royals – were mummified.
The tattooed mummy, the remains of which were found less than a decade ago, was so well preserved that archaeologists could nearly discern the tattoo on the inner thigh of her right leg with the naked eye. But medical infrared technology helped them see it clearly.
The Vatican’s school of science, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, did not return multiple requests for comments made by FoxNews.com.
By Dawn Cooke
In honor of women’s history month I have compiled a list of women in the history of tattooing. This is not a complete history by any means. There are hundreds of women throughout time who have contributed to the art form and trade of tattooing. Unfortunately a lot of them have gone unaccounted for. I have tried to find some of the lesser-known women to highlight here however some of the well-known artists have also been included. I have included women with at least 20 years under their belts. I was overwhelmed with the response to my idea to write this article.
Some of the women earlier on in history who paved the way for us included several sideshow performers. Betty Broadbent and lady Viola are among the most well known. In the 1930’s Mildred Hull was one of the few women tattoo artists working on the bowery in NY. The beloved Cindy Ray from Australia, tattooed into the year 2007. These ladies have set our roots and our history is being made as we speak. But here are 20 women, most of whom are tattooing still, who deserve recognition for their contributions! These women tattooed long before social media and Reality television. They may not be masters at social media but they are masters of their craft. Take the time too look into these great artists! (In no particular order.)
1.Madame Chinchilla http://triangletattoo.com
2.Loretta Lue http://leufamilyiron.com
3.Pat Fish http://www.luckyfish.com
The Bowery really was electric on Friday evening, standing amongst a crowd of family and friends honoring an inspirational man: Mike Bakaty, who passed away at the end of January. It was a farewell (nay, celebration) to a tattoo legend, hosted at his favorite neighborhood bar, Bowery Electric, and attended by friends and loved ones. Even some biker buddies from DC were in attendance.
We stood to raise a glass, to cheers, to find the silver lining in his passing, or as Bakaty dubbed it, the”upshot.” We spoke from the heart, we embraced, we laughed and we cried because this man – a pioneer in the world of tattooing and an icon on the Lower East Side – is no longer with us.
One of Mike’s sons – Mehai Bakaty stood with two of his brothers and spoke resounding words to an audience bound by one man.
Here is Mehai’s soulful speech and some pictures from the event.
“They say you’re not really dead until the last person has spoken your name so I think our goal is to let that be a while before that actually happens.”
Mike, we have your voice, your laughter, your wisdom for all to hear, and of course, our memories. It will be a while.
The upshot is you will always be with us.
By Marisa Kakoulas
So, you can take a minute and read the Gizmodo article first. Or not.
I first asked Anna what she thought were some glaring mistakes in the post. Here’s what she said:
ANNA: By the third sentence of this “article” I knew it was going to be a doozy. The problem with this statement, “That tradition continues today, just with a much smaller chance of infection” is a) it’s incredibly melodramatic and b) it’s just not true. Many (if not most?) traditional tattoo practitioners were acutely aware of the possibility of infection, one of the reasons why we perhaps see suspension mediums in traditional tattoo “ink” recipes like alium juice or even one of my favorite rare ones, human breastmilk, both of which contain natural antibacterial agents. Rest periods for people having undergone tattooing are common cross-culturally (presumably to let the body heal and lessen the chance of infection). And with the rise of “tattoo parties” and so much home-tattooing by amateurs untrained in proper safe practices with bloodborne pathogens, there is a huge risk of all sorts of infections in the contemporary era.
Re: the image of the “Pict” “tattoos”: had the writer just done a tiny bit of searching re: this image, he might have realized this image is a fantasy and does not represent tattoos. Scholars are still not sure if the descriptions of body art on the Picts were tattoos or just body painting (leaning toward the latter), but they definitely were not 16th century French-inspired floral designs in multi-color (they were described as woad-like, which is blueish in color). The image is also not attributed to the source, and I’m guessing when the owner (Yale University) finds out it’s been used without attribution, they will have it pulled. Here are some links to some of my posts on one of the other images from the same book (John White’s equally fantastic Pict images), which mention fantasy and have more elucidation of some of these problems: Image 1 (below), Image 2, and Image 3.
Matt also noted the misinformation on Picts and cited “The Pictish Tattoo: Origins of a Myth” by Richard Dibon-Smith for reference.
As for the “These days, it’s not just sailors and ruffians that get inked” line (and the whole paragraph really), read Matt’s attack on tattoo cliches.
Above: Lars Krutak with one of the last tattooed Kalinga warriors Jaime Alos outside of Tabuk, Philippines.
I’m also grateful for the extensive critique of the article that Lars offered:
LARS: Otzi is not the oldest evidence as this article seems to purport. The oldest is a 7000-year-old male mummy of the Chinchorro culture of South America and this man wears a tattooed mustache on his upper-lip, so the earliest evidence is cosmetic. [Actually, the cited Smithsonian article had several glaring errors and I never cite it - period! - even though I work at the Smithsonian! Dr. Fletcher stated that Otzi is the oldest tattoo evidence, but she is no doubt incorrect and I like mythbusting this oft-stated "fact."]
Gizmodo: The Inuit, for example, have been tattooing themselves in the name of beauty and a peaceful afterlife since at least the 13th century.
LARS – The earliest evidence of tattooing in all of North America is a Palaeo-Eskimo ivory maskette from Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada whose face is completely covered with tattoos and it dates to -3500 BP. This object most likely represents a woman. So the practice is much older than the author presumes. For “beauty” is pretty much horseshit – see my comments below. Much circumpolar tattooing aimed to repel the advances of disease-bearing evil spirits and there were multiple forms of medicinal tattooing to relieve painful rheumatism (a la the Iceman), painful swellings, facial paralysis, and even to increase the production of a woman’s breast milk.
Gizmodo: Similarly, in the the [sic] Cree tribe, men would often tattoo their entire bodies while the women would wear ornate designs running from mid-torso to pelvis as protective wards for a safe pregnancy.
LARS: I have never heard anything about safe pregnancies in relation to Cree tattoo, although I am aware of tattoos in other parts of North America to promote fertility or ensure that the first thing a newborn saw was a thing of beauty (eg, inner thigh tattoo, Inuit region). Indeed, Cree men (Plains Cree, Wood Cree) were tattooed on their torso, but only for war honors. These tattoos had to be earned so only successful warriors would have worn such tattoos. The author makes it sounds like every man had them, but this is simply not true.
To read this full article, go to: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/03/tattoo-history-myths-exposed.html
By Dawn Cooke
I am speaking to you from deep within the trenches of this silent war. I reside inside of the tattoo community. I’m deep within the middle ranks of those that have lasted over 10 years in the trade. There is a war between the real traditionalists who are true to their craft and the tattoo rock and roll super star wanna-bes. This is more of a mentality than it is a style per se.
What I mean is that there are those of us who love tattooing for it’s rich history and the purity of the art form and then there are those of us who only care about what tattooing can get them. Some of us are in it purely for the art sake others are here for an ego boost. So with that said here are the reasons the tattoo community hates reality TV, without being too obvious. Plus some great new artists I have come to know about!
- These shows and people who make them are missing the point altogether. Tattooing is counter culture not consumer culture. It’s theorized that all counter culture eventually becomes consumer culture. But tattoos aren’t like dollar store trinkets that you throw away in a year, made in some Chinese factory. Tattoos are permanent and what makes a tattoo good is it’s longevity as the skin is aging.
- They have no idea about the richness of history that is continually being shaped and unearthed regarding tattoo culture nor do they seem to have any genuine interest in it.
- They mindlessly exploit the culture on a whole that most of us in the trenches hold sacred. The culture that we live, love, and have tried to make meaningful contributions to… they’re trying to cash in on something they have no clue or concern about!
- They claim to be reality yet at every casting interview you are directed about what to say and how to say it. The footage is directed and edited to suit the purpose of the production first and foremost and the concern is ratings and nothing else. There’s no uncovering of a deeper meaning in any of these shows that I have noticed and I have suffered through a few of them hoping for something good to come of it.
- Producers and casting agents don’t do their homework. They have hardly any idea about who is or isn’t respected in the tattoo community (unless they ask Oliver)… and that’s only one perspective. It takes constant research to keep up with that!
- Their main objective is to sensationalize which goes along with ratings again but it makes the whole thing unauthentic. We can tell. Not everyone is a drooling idiot.
- They treat artists like fresh meat. They just riffle though them like a douche bag on a quest to see how many one night stands they can get.
- Tattoo artists aren’t actors! So just hire actors and write a good script already! Hire us to draw on the tattoos!
- Be creative and pick a new topic you’ve already beat this one to DEATH! Do a reality show about a dive bar and the bar flies who go there…anything!
- Tattooing is boring to watch! Unless you’re getting a tattoo or doing one it’s basically uneventful!!!!! Get over it! It’s time for a “where are they now”, a reunion show, with dream sequence and montages of the highlights of those old shows! If you want to do something exciting pick an artist to follow and see what it’s like to be in that persons shoes….. Even then you will probably figure out that all we do is draw and look at books!!! Unless you pick a “model” with big tits and then we can just watch hours of bouncing tits. No talking please, it’s unnecessary! No one wants to hear the word “tattoo” over and over.
The “reality” is that it takes immense dedication, fortitude, time and money to be a tattoo artist or a serious tattoo collector. Most of this is lost in the flashy bullshit you see on these shows. How about a no bullshit TV show? Ever see the movie Network ? Give me the raw Truth! So I don’t mean to be snarky. I’m all for promoting a healthy outlook on our culture but I just feel they are missing the mark a little bit. I can’t say I could do better but if I had a million dollar budget I bet I could.
By Craig Hlavaty
This weekend, Peveto Art Gallery will display 20 sheets of historic tattoo flash art that were recently found in an abandoned house in Corpus Christi. According to gallery owner Scott Peveto, the flash looks to be over 100 years old. The items were rescued from a Dumpster by a man who cleans out houses that are tagged to be torn down.
“I’ve spent enough time with them to know they are real,” said Peveto. The sheets are water and nicotine-stained and more than likely were originally displayed on the walls of a tattoo shop for customers to choose pieces from.
The art is on heavy illustration board and shows signs of wear from push pins. Artist names are included on most.
“The majority of them are by the same artist,” said Peveto. You can really pinpoint the ones that don’t quite go with the others.
Peveto is looking to sell half the lot at a public unveiling of the exhibit Saturday night at his Montrose gallery. He said he is going to ask around $2,000 per sheet. The exhibit opens at 6 p.m.
Peveto said the work predates the art of Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, who made his name tattooing sailors, rebels, and rogues. Sailor Jerry’s name is now on rum bottles, art galleries, dorm posters, baby clothes, and his artwork can be found re-imagined on skin all over the world.
A friend of Peveto’s who is a longtime sailor noticed that one piece looked particularly familiar.
“He said that the one piece of flash looks very much like Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Great White Fleet’ that circumnavigated the globe from 1907 to 1909,” said Peveto. That could mean that the artist had drawn up the design for customers who had been aboard the ships. Or it just looked cool.
Corpus would have been a convenient spot for sailors to get tattoo work done given its proximity to the Gulf. Today, the city maintains a thriving tattoo scene with hotspots like Shipwreck Tattoo.
Bruce Morgan out at Shipwreck and his colleagues aren’t so sure the flash is the work of a homegrown Texas artist. They think it’s more of an East Coast-style. Texas tattoo flash from this era would probably have more Texicana involved, like state flag, cowboy, or yellow rose imagery, Morgan said.
“It could have been someone’s collection from their travels,” said Morgan. Even still he’s very curious about the collection’s lineage. He’d like a fellow tattoo artist to acquire them for their own collection.
“We tattooers try our best to keep tattoo-related history in our own family,” he said.
By Allison B. Siegel
Fineline Tattoo opened in 1976 during the New York City ban on tattooing and is considered the longest continually running tattoo shop in Manhattan. It’s located on 1st Street and First Avenue in the East Village. Previously, Mike Bakaty, the founder and owner, operated underground for 36 years in secret back rooms and loft apartments. With the walls adorned with Bakaty’s original flash art, Fineline is definitely near and dear to our skin and to the history of NYC.
We interviewed Bakaty and asked him about tattooing and New York City:
When did you first fall in love with tattooing?
I’m still falling in love with tattooing. I got interested back in ’74 when I went to get some work covered up…I got more interested in ’75…and then by 1976 my interest was such that I started tattooing myself.
And you didn’t care that tattooing was illegal at the time in NY?
Hell yeah, I cared. Every time the phone rang I jumped thinking it was the cops looking to bust me. After 21 years eventually I got over jumping at the phone.
How do you feel at the Bowery now and all the changes going on?
Well, you know, it’s not the Bowery I lived on for 34 years, you know? Don’t know how I feel about the changes. When they first built the Whole Foods down here I thought who the hell is gonna come down here and buy food? We tried to save the building we lived in (McGurk’s Suicide Hall). I lived there for 34 years. Check out more on McGurk’s.
What’s your opinion on Mildred Hull?
Millie Hull…well she was one of the first female tattooers I ever heard of. There’s a picture of her right there (points to picture on the wall).
This piece has her in it and some other legends like Charlie Wagner.
Well, it was us (Fineline) that brought tattooing back to the Bowery and the fact of the matter is I was totally blind to the fact that the Bowery had such tattoo history. I read somewhere the first heavily tattooed person exhibition was around 1876 right across from 295 (Bowery) where we lived…
Do you call this a parlor or a shop?
It’s a studio. I don’t see a parlor anywhere in here.
Can I ask how old you are?
Well, I’m 77.
G-d Bless you, man! You don’t look a day over 60.
Well, thank you, I just passed the big 77. If I knew I was gonna get this old I’d have taken better care of myself (laughter).
By Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from: www.needlesandsins.com
One hundred years ago, Amund Dietzel (1891-1974), of Kristiania, Norway, arrived in Milwaukee with a knowledge of tattooing he picked up on a merchant shop. Deciding to make the city his home, he opened up a tattoo parlor that attracted tattoo collectors far beyond Milwaukee. Sailors and marines during two world wars came to see Dietzel before leaving for battle, choosing powerful designs from his handpainted flash that hung on the shop’s walls.
Dietzel “helped define the look of the traditional or old school tattoo,” the Milwaukee Art Museum wrote of their “Tattoo: Flash Art of Amund Dietzel” exhibition, which ran from July to October.
That wonderful archive of Dietzel’s painted flash, stencils and drawings, from the collection of Jon Reiter, will be exhibited at Great Lakes Tattoo in Chicago, from November 29th to January 5th.
During the November 29th opening, not only can you view Americana tattoo history, but also have a piece of it tattooed on you, as artists will be offering tattoos from Dietzel’s flash sheets from 12 to 10 PM that day. The opening party, with food & drink, runs from 5 to 8 PM.
Proceeds from the tattoos, as well as beautiful limited edition prints (shown below) and shirts, will go towards the hefty medical expenses Jon incurred from an ICU stay.
For more on Amund Dietzel’s life, pick up Jon’s fantastic books, These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, Volumes 1 & 2.
TCM Issue 4 available now!!
Paul Booth, Miss Arianna, Dong Dong, Tattoo Archive, Tattoo History, Debra Yarian, Sean Herman, Needles and Sins, Pep Williams, Bro Safari, Artist Galleries and more…
By Jay Brown In Northern Idaho there is the lake town of Coeur d’Alene, actually more of a city than a town. In the sea of tattooing these days, some of the old timers really shine through as great tattooers as well as incredible artists, one of those is Robert McNeill. I recently got a chance to stop in to see him at his studio on 4th Street right in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene. Blue Rose Tattoo is a clean, comfortable shop, with lots of incredible artwork adorning the walls, all of which is either Japanese or American Traditional tattoo designs, all painted by Robert. And speaking of painting, Robert is incredible at that, pin-ups I think being one of his strong points, but he can do anything, all in all Robert is one of those artists that can create on skin as well as he can on paper or canvas. So after we were done with the hellos and the pleasantries, we got down to the interview, which wound up being 43 minutes long, so I am gonna edit things, cause I don’t have enough pictures to go with that many pages, and that’s a lot of pages so we’re gonna trim it down a bit, although it was a great interview all the way through, but we’re not writing a book, but I digress… Yes, so the interview. I hope you enjoy… [Editor's Note: Jay's interview, due to its length, will be broken into three weekly installments, this is Part III of III.]
By Jay Brown In Northern Idaho there is the lake town of Coeur d’Alene, actually more of a city than a town. In the sea of tattooing these days, some of the old timers really shine through as great tattooers as well as incredible artists, one of those is Robert McNeill. I recently got a chance to stop in to see him at his studio on 4th Street right in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene. Blue Rose Tattoo is a clean, comfortable shop, with lots of incredible artwork adorning the walls, all of which is either Japanese or American Traditional tattoo designs, all painted by Robert. And speaking of painting, Robert is incredible at that, pin-ups I think being one of his strong points, but he can do anything, all in all Robert is one of those artists that can create on skin as well as he can on paper or canvas. So after we were done with the hellos and the pleasantries, we got down to the interview, which wound up being 43 minutes long, so I am gonna edit things, cause I don’t have enough pictures to go with that many pages, and that’s a lot of pages so we’re gonna trim it down a bit, although it was a great interview all the way through, but we’re not writing a book, but I digress… Yes, so the interview. I hope you enjoy…[Editor's Note: Jay's interview, due to its length, will be broken into three weekly installments, this is Part II of III.]
By Jay Brown In Northern Idaho there is the lake town of Coeur d’Alene, actually more of a city than a town. In the sea of tattooing these days, some of the old timers really shine through as great tattooers as well as incredible artists, one of those is Robert McNeill. I recently got a chance to stop in to see him at his studio on 4th Street right in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene. Blue Rose Tattoo is a clean, comfortable shop, with lots of incredible artwork adorning the walls, all of which is either Japanese or American Traditional tattoo designs, all painted by Robert. And speaking of painting, Robert is incredible at that, pin-ups I think being one of his strong points, but he can do anything, all in all Robert is one of those artists that can create on skin as well as he can on paper or canvas. So after we were done with the hellos and the pleasantries, we got down to the interview, which wound up being 43 minutes long, so I am gonna edit things, cause I don’t have enough pictures to go with that many pages, and that’s a lot of pages so we’re gonna trim it down a bit, although it was a great interview all the way through, but we’re not writing a book, but I digress… Yes, so the interview. I hope you enjoy… [Editor's Note: Jay's interview, due to its length, will be broken into three weekly installments, this is Part I of III.] (more…)