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El Condor Pasa

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ponedjeljak, 05.10.2009.

When a Tattoo becomes a works of art

The art of painting the body, or the personal identity card. Sings, desings, letters, symbols or other motifs that represent ethnic uniformity, symbolic or religious values, commitments to love or gestures of scorn and vengeance, icons and arabesques of loveliness. It goes back a long way.
The word tattoo derives from the Polynesian tatau and the word was imported by Captain James Cook, who described the tattooing techniques of the Polynesian natives in his diary. Cook can therefore be said to be the man who gave us the modern idea of the tattoo, and his sailors brought samples to the West with them from their voyages, spreading the symbols and techniques and the English word tattoo.
Scarring the skin was an ancient way of communicating a message or decorating the body of the king, noblemen and valorous warriors, or slaves and criminals, or to mark those who belonged to a religious sect, an army, a political group, a cultural movement and so on.
The pictorial art composed of sings, designs, letters and symbols or other motifs is shared by many cultures, both ancient and modern, and has accompanied mankind for much of its existence.
We tend to associate the use of tattoos to youth groups like rockers and teddy boys, street gangs and hippies, or Hell's Angels or punks, where this art is highly successful, but we forget that the tattoo has very ancient origins. A sharp instrument discovered in a French cave, made from reindeer bone, was used for tattooing during the upper Paleolithic era and there is evidence of tattooing on the skins of men and women who lived 6000 years ago among the populations of South America, North America, the Eskimos, Siberians, Chinese, Egyptians and even Italians. Therapeutic tattoos have been found on the mummified body of Otzi (ca. 3300 B.C.) found in 1991 in the Italian Alps. Among ancient civilizations in which the practice developed extensively was Egypt, but also ancient Rome, the crossroads of civilization, as well as the early inhabitants of Australia and New Zealand, the most famous of which are the Maori. The Australian Bushmen, probably the most ancient civilization still surviving, paint and scar part of the body. The Celts adored animals such as the bull, the boar, the cat, certain birds and fish as divinities, and drew symbols of them on their skin as a sign of their devotion. The Britains, whose a name derives from brith which means to paint, worn capes made from the hides of wild beasts and scarred their skin with shapes and figures in dark colors that were indelible.
The Inuit still use bone needles similar to the Japanese who, with the technique known as 'irezumi', use fine metal needles and pigment in many colors (Western tattooing is done with an electric machine).
Expressions of ethnics art that are meant to be seductive or to personify strength and virility, tattoos become real creative styles, works of talent and examples of human pictorial genius. The most popular themes in the classic Western symbolism considered 'old school' are those characterized by clean, squared lines, heavy use of black and flat coloring, without shading, of subjects like roses, fists, sacred hearts, pin-ups and maritime graphics like mermaids, anchors and ships; later, the 'new school' exasperated the early characteristics, with thicker lines and bright, luminous colors. Tribal is the name that is given to this category and that became popular starting in the early Nineties, based on the traditional sings of the natives of the various Pacific islands (Samoa, Marshall Islands, Hawaii), the Dayak from Borneo, the Maori from New Zealand and the native Americans, an abstract style, usually all in black, designed so as to emphasize the natural lines of the body and muscles, or to pay homage to natural elements, flora and fauna, fire, air and water. In Japan the tattoos called irezumi often represent dragons, cherry blossoms, Buddha and mythological animals like koi fish. Two other types are biomechanical tattoos composed of human organs or body parts indissolubly fused with mechanical parts, and lettering, or words and phrases included with or in place of the drawings.
(Copy/Paste from:
OBJ Sportswear per Uomini - Spring Summer 2008 magazine)

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