Tattoos | History | Smithsonian
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What is the evidence that ancient Egyptians had tattoos?
There's certainly evidence that women had tattoos on their bodies and limbs from figurines c. Also small bronze implements identified as tattooing tools were discovered at the town site of Gurob in northern Egypt and dated to c. And then, of course, there are the mummies with tattoos, from the three women already mentioned and dated to c.
What function did these tattoos serve? Who got them and why? Because this seemed to be an exclusively female practice in ancient Egypt, mummies found with tattoos were usually dismissed by the male excavators who seemed to assume the women were of "dubious status," described in some cases as "dancing girls.
And although it has long been assumed that such tattoos were the mark of prostitutes or were meant to protect the women against sexually transmitted diseases, I personally believe that the tattooing of ancient Egyptian women had a therapeutic role and functioned as a permanent form of amulet during the very difficult time of pregnancy and birth.
This is supported by the pattern of distribution, largely around the abdomen, on top of the thighs and the breasts, and would also explain the specific types of designs, in particular the net-like distribution of dots applied over the abdomen. During pregnancy, this specific pattern would expand in a protective fashion in the same way bead nets were placed over wrapped mummies to protect them and "keep everything in.
This would ultimately explain tattoos as a purely female custom. Who made the tattoos? Although we have no explicit written evidence in the case of ancient Egypt, it may well be that the older women of a community would create the tattoos for the younger women, as happened in 19th-century Egypt and happens in some parts of the world today.
What instruments did they use? It is possible that an implement best described as a sharp point set in a wooden handle, dated to c. Petrie at the site of Abydos may have been used to create tattoos. Petrie also found the aforementioned set of small bronze instruments c. If tied together in a bunch, they would provide repeated patterns of multiple dots.
These instruments are also remarkably similar to much later tattooing implements used in 19th-century Egypt. The English writer William Lane observed, "the operation is performed with several needles generally seven tied together: It is generally performed at the age of about 5 or 6 years, and by gipsy-women.
Most examples on mummies are largely dotted patterns of lines and diamond patterns, while figurines sometimes feature more naturalistic images. The tattoos occasionally found in tomb scenes and on small female figurines which form part of cosmetic items also have small figures of the dwarf god Bes on the thigh area. What were they made of? How many colors were used? Usually a dark or black pigment such as soot was introduced into the pricked skin. It seems that brighter colors were largely used in other ancient cultures, such as the Inuit who are believed to have used a yellow color along with the more usual darker pigments.
This mummified head of a woman from the pre-Inca Chiribaya culture, located at the Azapa Museum in Arica, Chile, is adorned with facial tattoos on her lower left cheek. The Chiribaya were farmers who lived from A. Joann Fletcher A tattooed predynastic female figurine c.
From The Ashes – Tattoo and Piercing
Joann Fletcher Small bronze tattooing implements c. Joann Fletcher This blue bowl c.
Joann Fletcher What has surprised you the most about ancient Egyptian tattooing? That it appears to have been restricted to women during the purely dynastic period, i. Also the way in which some of the designs can be seen to be very well placed, once it is accepted they were used as a means of safeguarding women during pregnancy and birth.
Can you describe the tattoos used in other ancient cultures and how they differ? Among the numerous ancient cultures who appear to have used tattooing as a permanent form of body adornment, the Nubians to the south of Egypt are known to have used tattoos. Steven was so professional and patient in helping us decide on the design. My first impression I got when I walked into the studio was how clinical and clean it was and it smelt.
We only part to meet again. First tattoo. | Ink | Pinterest | Tattoos, Piercing tattoo and Body Art
I was a bit nervous but Steve created a nice relaxed atmosphere that I soon felt relaxed. The tattoos turned out great and I recommend him to everyone Ashley Mandich I have had amazing experiences being tattooed by Kaysie. It was only my second tattoo the first time I went to her and she made me feel super comfortable.
She is extremely friendly, patient and understanding. She is very knowledgeable of what she is doing and VERY sanitary.
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She literally exceeded my expectations in both customer service and cleanliness. I will absolutely be going back to get more tattoos from her. Such a great experience!! Damian Scanlen I have been for not just 1 but 6 tattoos with Steve and every one of them has been awesome!
The correct placing, correct size, redesigned where needed and the add-on design where applicable! Nothing short of perfection when completed every time! Each one of his designs have his personalized and unique touch.