Friday, March 1, 2013

Body Art Throughout History

Body art has been practiced for many centuries. Permanent and temporary alike, people have adorned their bodies in different ways. Originally for tribal ceremonies and signifying social classes, but has now become common in mainstream culture. There are five main types that have been developed throughout thousands of years.

When did People Begin Tattooing

Tattooing is believed to have started as early as 3300 BC, after being discovered on the famous Ötzi the Iceman mummy in 1991. It was used centuries ago in cultures in China, Japan, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Samoa, Persia, Europe, and New Zealand Māori. It was used in many cultures to signify tribal status and in others used to mark social class such as slaves and criminals. In later years it was used to signify higher social statuses.

In the past 50-100 years, technology has advanced significantly, and it has become more acceptable for ordinary people to have them instead of just aristocracy. It grew in popularity with military men and women that were featured at fairs as the "Tattooed Lady". It then transferred to be done mainly among rock and roll fans, bikers, and gang members as a way to separate themselves from mainstream society.

In the past 20 years or so, body art became very popular among young adults. A poll done in 2012 showed that for the first time in United States history, more women had tattoos than men. The poll showed that 23% of women in the US have tattoos versus only 19% of men. Tattoos today are still used among the original cultures and now many just get them as a decoration.

Women are more likely to have tattoos done on their ankles, wrists, and lower backs. Men typically get tattoos done on their shoulders, legs, chest and backs. Tattoos come in all shapes and sizes from small ones to full body tattoos. They're popularity in body art continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing done.

Piercings as body art

Piercings have been found through many cultures, and date back to over 5000 years ago. Through different cultures, nose piercings were the most common, second being ears. In many African and American cultures, the most frequently seen are tongue and lip piercings.

Body piercings, such as the naval, started to grow in popularity in the 1970s. They've spread through the mainstream culture since the 1990s. It isn't unusual to see someone from the age 16 and up to have multiple ear piercings or at least one facial piercing.

They have developed beyond facial and naval piercings over the years in not only where they're placed, but also how they're done. Surface piercings can be done anywhere on the skin and a form called microdermal implants. Both are innovative because they can be done anywhere on the body.

In my late teens, I started a trend my high school by having seven different facial piercings and still have three of them. I've also have four microdermal implants done on my chest. They're simply a small piece of jewelry placed just underneath the surface of the skin and look just like stick on jewels.

Scarification and Branding as forms of body art

These are two of the most dramatic forms as they both involve more intense methods than tattooing or piercing for the designs to become permanent.

Branding was initially created to brand cattle to identify their owner. In later years it was used to mark slaves and criminals. Now it has reinvented to be a form of self expression. It causes a more dramatic and permanent mark on the skin without the color you get with a tattoo.

Scarification has been used in tribal ceremonies to symbolize the member has become old enough to be considered an adult for hundreds of years. It is done by scratching or cutting designs into the skin to cause scars to form. It's still part of a very small population in the world of body modification as not a lot of artists do it.

These two forms also take the longest to heal. Branding can take a month or two to heal and scarification can take up to three months to completely heal. They're also a much higher risk of infection than any form of body art.

Temporary Tattoos as a form of body art

Almost as long as permanent body art has become more mainstream, temporary body art has come to be very popular. When it comes to the different kinds of temporary tattoos, they can be done on all ages. So they became a very regular skin decoration.

Henna tattoos have been around for thousands of years, along with permanent tattoos. Henna has been used as a temporary way to adorn the skin with designs that will fade within a month. It is done by using the henna plant and mixing it with simple ingredients to create a paste that will stain the skin. It has been used in many cultures and religions. They can be done on any age and pure henna tattoos are the safest form of body art known.

Temporary transfer tattoos are the second oldest type, being first created in the late 1800s. They were initially placed as prizes in snack packages and have continued their climb in mainstream culture since then. The printing process of them was reinvented in 1980 at 3M and they lasted longer than the original way of printing them. They are now used not only amongst children, but even in the entertainment industry to mimic the appearance of real tattoos.

Body painting has been used in many cultures and became an art in the 1970s. The artist will paint designs on a models body and would either have them as features in art shows and events. It is still a very unique and creative way to showcase an artists talents by using a person as their canvas, even if it does only last for one day.

Airbrush tattoos were invented in the late 1990s. They started in amusement parks and fairs, and quickly became a fun souvenir to get done. The airbrush artist will apply a stencil and using their specialized airbrush and ink to create a realistic looking tattoo that could last up to 3-5 days.

Glitter tattoos are the most recently developed and latest trend in temporary tattoos. Cosmetic glitter has been used in other ways as hair sprays, make up, and even some lotions have glitter in them. Glitter tattoos are done by applying a stencil, a thin layer of skin safe glue, and glitter. These can last up to 7 days or longer in some cases. They are waterproof, so without actively trying to remove it, they can stay for quite a while.

Permanent or Temporary body art

Whether permanent or temporary, people have been decorating their bodies for centuries. It is a unique and creative way to express your culture or yourself in whatever form you choose. They all show your individuality in whatever way you choose. With this many different kinds of body art, there is definitely something for everyone

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