History Of Tattoos: Origin and Influence

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History Of Tattoos

Tattooing and body marking have been influential in various cultures internationally for centuries. But most tattoo lovers and beginners don’t acquire proper knowledge of the history of tattoos. Today we will go through the history of tattooing, its evolution, and its impact on human civilization. The ideologies and general notions of people about tattoos are always growing. Nowadays, most regions of the world don’t feel alienated from the idea of tattooing and body marking. So, it is understandable why we are discussing tattoos’ origin, influence, and history.

Origin Of Tattoos:

Most people know that tattoos have existed in humanity’s history for several centuries. Some people don’t believe it, but there are mummified bodies of ancient humans with body markings and tattoos. The verified evidence of ancient human tattooing is between 3300 BC and 3100 BC.

History Of Tattoos In Various Regions Of the World:

We have already emphasized the relation of tattoos and body markings with human civilization. It is one of the earliest methods of self-expression and representation of ideas. However, if we look more deeply into human history, we conclude that the history of tattoos is very versatile and evolved. The quality, methods, and variety of tattoos depend mainly on where the specimen was found. So, let’s discuss some regions of the world to understand the history and diversity of tattooing on a global scale:


Archaeologists have discovered several naturally mummified bodies in diverse mountain ranges of Europe. The earliest tatted human ever recorded is called “Otzi the iceman.” He was found in 1991 near Otzal alps. Experts found nearly sixty tattoos on different parts of his body. Moreover, after further experimentation, researchers found fire ashes were used as tattooing ink on Otzi the Iceman.

Rome and Greece:

Rome and Greece have a significant tattooing history from 5 BC. However, unlike most of the famous civilizations with tattoos in history, greeks and Romans used tattooing as a social punishment for outcasts, enslaved people, and criminals. The dominant members of the society used to mark the lower working class with body brandings to symbolize their dominance over them. This caused enslaved people and criminals to be tatted with various branding and messages.


Egypt has a separate history of tattoos and artwork compared to other regions. There are some Egyptian mummies with tattoos dating back to 2000 BC. Unlike some ancient civilizations, Egyptians used tattooing and body artwork for beautiful aesthetics and decorative purposes. The ancient health care of Egypt also has been reported to use tattooing and body markings. But tattoos were mainly part of feminine beauty care and fashion.


Samoan civilization is also pretty diverse and rich, with interesting flavors of culture to amaze the world. Tattooing and body marking are an integral part do Samoan culture. There are tattoos on various tribes dating back thousands of years. Even the word “tattoo” is derivative of the word “tatau” from the Samoan language. Tattooing methods and the history of tattoos in Samoa are highly traditional and skillful. This causes Samoan tattooing rituals to be painful and difficult sometimes for some people. Natural resources and body parts of various animals are used as tattooing tools in the Samoan tattoos rituals.


Although tattooing was considered a stigma and social rebellion in ancient japan, it is another region with mummified and tattooed bodies of ancient humans. Experts found several mummies of tattooed humans in nearby regions of Japan with the initial form of Japanese tattoos. These mummies’ history and period varied between 2000 BC and 540 BC. Some experts suggest that certain tattoos also marked some criminals as classified from others in ancient Japanese culture.

Related: How Do Tattoos Affect Job Opportunities

Influence Of Tattooing in Modern Times:

Similar to ancient tattooing methods, tattoos have evolved significantly over the past few centuries after the industrial and technological revolution. Therefore, we can look at the influence of human growth and advancement on tattooing. It might seem unrealistic how human behaviors and civilization are deeply related to the history of tattoos and body marking as a source of self-expression. Following are some of the important phases of influence of tattooing throughout modern times:

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, most sailors and circus artists had an essential part of their upbringing and professional norms to get tattoos. Especially sailors used to get tattoos related to their adventures and working experience in the sea.
  • Femimen interest in tattoos rose to popularity in the 1920s. At the time, make-up was true luxury and very expensive to buy. This caused women to tattoo their faces and body as beauty aesthetics. But these tattoo designs and permanent make-up were kept subtle and naturally appealing.
  • Like the previous decade, the 1930s weren’t an exception. Tattoos were still taboo because many influential people argued about their moral standing. People wrote books and argued the relation of tattooing with repressed human desires. But with the introduction of social security numbers, people started getting tattoos of their social security number on hidden parts of their bodies. This helped them access their identity number anywhere without the vast judgment of society.
  • Tattoo history truly revolutionized in the 1940s when Norman Keith Collins introduced colorful tattooing. This added more diversity, creativity, and artistic freedom to the previous basic and simpler tattooing methods. Furthermore, World War II also played an important role in the popularity of these colorful tattoos. People used tattooing as a relieving mechanism to cope with their trauma and pain due to devastating war.
  • Until 1950, tattoos were an important part of the feminine aesthetic and lifestyle. In this era, rebellious “bad boys” and thugs started getting tattoos. The reputation of tattooing started tarnishing due to criminals and outcasts emphasizing tattoos. It caused a major effect on public perception of tattooing.
  • Tattoo history faced another backlash in the 1960s when tattooing was popularized as a major source of the spreading of hepatitis. This added to the negative imagery of tattooing. But on the opposing pole, various celebrities and music stars helped re-engage the masses to tattooing. The Vietnam war led to the popularity of American tattoos as patriotic means of representing love for their homeland.
  • Celebrity influence theoretically blessed the history of tattoos in the 1970s,1980s, and 1990s. At that time, numerous famous singers, actors, performers, and celebrities had notable and infamous tattoos. Now, tattoos are slowing yet becoming an acceptable and integral part of society.
  • After a three-decade build-up, tattooing finally became a societal norm in the 21st century. Now, the artwork and creativity of tattoo artists truly started flourishing with proper freedom. There are trendy and distinguishing tattoo designs everywhere. People are constantly learning that tattoos are a form of self-expression to this day.


Tattoos are undoubtedly an inherent part of human civilization. Tattooing has flourished throughout human history, from being an initial source of self-expression to becoming a creative art form. The origin and history of tattoos have been evolving parallel to humanity. We hope that this article provides you with a brief yet comprehensive highlight of tattoos history and origin of tattoos. The constant betterment and growth of tattooing through the centuries is impressive. Everyone is excited to see what the future of tattoos holds for us all. You can always understand more in detail guidance and information about the history of tattoos from personal historians and tattoo experts. Thanks for reading.

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