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Technology Takes Tattoos into the Future04.05.19

A 3D rendering of the Neuma Hybrid. Machine image: Neuma Tattoo Machines

Ink is the new black. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 45 million Americans are tattooed, and a poll from Harris finds marked men are now outnumbered by marked women.

What happened to the taboos around tattoos? Engineering. New technologies are expanding the artistic limits of tattooing while minimizing the discomforts, health risks, and permanence of extreme body art.

According to analysts at IBIS research, at least 8,000 tattoo parlors now serve a $3.4-billion annual U.S. demand. Even with more mainstream acceptance, tattoos retain their streetwise mystique, especially among the 40-and-under set who sport the lions share of the nations tattoos.

Ancient indigenous native cultures around the globe practiced tattooing, body painting, piercing, and scarification to express important spiritual or social messages. The global spread of European economic and religious influence led to the customs demise in many cultures, yet also introduced it to new generations of world travelers. In the early twentieth century, ethnologists like Wilfred Dyson Hambly documented some of the last vestiges of the original practice in isolated populations, capturing intricate body markings that still inspire artists today.

In recent Western history, tattoos have evoked the low-brow vibe of the worlds seaports, sideshows, cell blocks, and skid rows. Along with the social stigma, the practice has drawn unwanted scrutiny from public health officials. New York City even banned tattoo parlors outright in 1961, blaming them for an outbreak of hepatitis B. In the city of its U.S. rebirth, tattooing was performed illicitly in Bowery bucket shops for the next 36 years.

In 1891 Samuel O’Reilly revolutionized tattooing with his invention of the electric tattoo machine. Image:

Paleolithic tattoo artists decorated their clients using sharp sticks and red hot coals. Thousands of years later, the tools may be fancier but still perform the same bloody, wound-inflicting act. Whether by hand or with a machine, the artist uses needles to recreate a design below the surface of the skin. Tracing along a pre-drawn template, the artist pokes thousands of tiny, 1-mm-deep perforations in the skin. Ink flows in droplets through the perforations, leaving an indelible mark on the dermis. Before the first electric tattoo machines appeared in the 1890s, it was a painstaking manual process that could take days.

The big breakthrough in tattoo technology came in 1875 with Thomas Edisons electric pen and autographic press the first electric office duplicating system. Before widespread use of typewriters, the pen was used to engrave letters and drawings on a paper or wax stencil. The pens coil-powered stylus worked like a miniature jackhammer, punching small holes in the stencil at rates up to 3,000 per minute in sync with the clerks pen strokes. The document reproduction stage remained low-tech, relying on a manual ink roller and flat-bed press to print one duplicate at a time.

Although Edison was said to sport a modest tat of his own, he never intended his machine for such a subterranean use. However, the devices enormous potential for tattooing was immediately obvious to artists of the day. In 1891, a New York tattoo pioneer, Samuel O’Reilly, scored the first patent on an Edison-inspired electric machine. By the 1920s, the true precursor of todays basic machine became standard.

Most machines today are electric, operating either with a direct rotary drive or a two-coil electromagnetic motor. Some artists prefer pneumatic machines, which tend to be lighter, quieter, and lower-maintenance than electric models, yet they require a supply of compressed air. One of the newest twists on the old theme is the Neuma Hybrid, from Neuma Tattooing Machines, Granada Hills, CA. For artists on the go who want the performance of a pneumatic machine but dont want to haul an air compressor around, the Hybrid creates choices. Its engineered primarily as the next generation of the companys widely used N2 pneumatic machine, but with the addition of an electric module it can adapt to a standard 18-V power supply and RCA cables.

Tattooing with a MakerBot. Image: Le FabShop

Most of tattooings technological history has been spent making the job easier for human artists. But be careful for what you wish. A team of French design students adapted a 3D printer that could make tattoo artists totally unecessary.

As part of a competition sponsored by the French cultural ministry, the team of three ENSCI les Ateliers design students took a MakerBot printer, replaced its resin extruder with a makeshift tattoo needle, and programmed it to engrave a perfect permanent circle on a team members forearm.

Their first step was to practice on artificial skin with a tattoo machine borrowed from a local parlor. They programmed the printer software to create a perfect circle something that human operators find extremely difficult to do by hand. After adapting the printer nozzle to move a standard pen, they then worked out a way to hold the subjects skin taut with a section of tubing. With the practice run complete, the teamwent to work outfitting the printer to steer a real tattoo gun with equal precision. After modification to eliminate machine vibration, the students pushed print.

On the industrial innovation front, engineers are foregoing ink altogether in favor of more advanced media for skin-borne messaging. Implantable biosensors that transmit updated medical data through the skin using LED lights have potential in diabetes management. Motorola Mobility, part of Google, has recently patented an electronic neck tattoo that functions as a smartphone microphone, voice processing device, or according to the patent application a lie detector.

These new chapters in the history of tattooing may be written in disappearing ink, or they may leave an indelible impression. Either way, they reveal how deeply the art and science of tattooing has gotten under our skin.

Michael MacRae is an independent writer.


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Tattooing use while Breastfeeding | Drugs.com04.05.19

Medically reviewed on Feb 7, 2019

No data are available on the safety of tattooing during breastfeeding. Theoretical concerns relate to transmission of pigments or infections to the infant during breastfeeding and in the United States, blood donation is not permitted for 12 months after a tattoo as a precaution. Opinion appears to favor not obtaining a new tattoo during breastfeeding.[1][2][3] Tattooing of the nipple-areola area is sometimes used as part of nipple reconstruction in plastic surgery.[2][4]

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

1. Roche-Paull R. Body modifications and breastfeeding: What you need to know. J Hum Lact. 2015;31:552-3. PMID: 26185213

2. Kluger N, De Cuyper C. A practical guide about tattooing in patients with chronic skin disorders and other medical conditions. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2018;19:167-80. PMID: 28993993

3. Farley CL, Van Hoover C, Rademeyer CA. Women and tattoos: Fashion, meaning, and implications for health. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2019. PMID: 30806488

4. Boccola MA, Savage J, Rozen WM et al. Surgical correction and reconstruction of the nipple-areola complex: current review of techniques. J Reconstr Microsurg. 2010;26:589-600. PMID: 20721849


Breast Feeding


Body Modification, Non-Therapeutic


Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

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The Prickly History Of Tattooing In America | HuffPost04.05.19

According to a Nielsen poll, one in five Americans has a tattoo, and nearly 90 percent of those who do never regret getting inked up.

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way. Tattoos were once taboo in the West, even though body art is an ancient practice elsewhere. A new book, 100 Years of Tattoos, explores this decorous transformation, following tattoo art as it turned from an act of rebellion to a widely practiced personal statement.

History tells us that the concept of self-branding was embraced fully in England in the 1860s after the Prince of Wales marked himself with a cross, partaking in a Medieval ritual. Meanwhile, the art of ink was in its fledging stages in America. Martin Hildebrandt, considered one of the country’s first tattoo artists, opened a shop in New York City in 1870, making tattoos accessible for citizens who weren’t able to travel overseas. But before Hildebrandt’s business — which involved training apprentices — fully took off, most tattooed Americans were soldiers inking up for good luck, emblazoning themselves with reminders of their lives back home.

American tattoo art’s initial function as a sort of patriotic act inspired many styles that would come to define it. Artist Paul Rogers, owner of a trailer that came to be known as the Iron Factory, got his start tattooing soldiers with eagles and other winged creatures. He’d go on to influence Ed Hardy and others, both with his technology and his aesthetic, which included American flags, plump hearts and buxom women. And, although the U.S. Navy disapproved of pinup tattoos for a period, they were still popular among its members. Those would-be soldiers with tattoos that were deemed inappropriate due to nudity would go so far as to add clothes to their preexisting inked ladies.

While wartime America was keen on tattoos, in less-wealthy urban districts and overseas the art was mostly confined to a small clientele. Like most aesthetic trends, tattooing didn’t make its way to rural America quickly. Small-town introductions to body ink came via the circus, where those with body art were billed as bizarre attractions. In 100 Years of Tattoos, author David McComb digs into the fascinating underbelly of the industry. He discusses the gender divide among tattooed circus performers, and provides elucidating captions for images of women covered head-to-toe in body art. A picture of a totally inked woman, then employed as a sideshow act, depicts her posing proudly, covered in religious iconography and regal, historical portraits.

Women participated in the bubbling tattoo industry, which still remained beneath the surface of popular culture through the buttoned-up 1950s and early 60s. Notably, their inked art was at times an act of submission, especially among biker gangs. One spread in McComb’s book pictures a girl showing off a growing sleeve of hearts, with “Property of Alan” scrawled above it. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when what the author calls “the macho world of ink” was opened to women in new and empowering ways, that more feminine designs such as subtle shading and floral imagery became popular. Still, by 1979, female tattoo artists such as SuzAnne Fauser, whose depiction of a powerful pirate donning a stern expression and thick tresses can be seen below, struggled to make their mark in the industry.

McComb meticulously explores these corners of the industry, highlighting everything from the significance of tattooing within prisons to the impact of the Western-influenced ban Japan placed on tattoos at the end of the 19th century. See images from his book below.

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tattooing a dog what do you think? | Yahoo Answers04.05.19

In the UK I would just have a microchip inserted. Make sure it is compatible with the pet passport scheme if you intend to take the dog out of the country to anywhere in the EU.

Dog wardens and the main pet charities all check for microchips and the police use microchip registration as proof of ownership in disputes. Some microchips can be used to monitor the dogs temperature, but not all. You need to ask about this before a microchip is inserted if you want a chip that does this.

Tattoos are hardly ever used anymore. It is probably not legal to get anyone apart from a vet to do this in the UK as it will count as a surgical procedure. A dog would need sedation or anaesthesia to do it safely and humanely.

Problems with microchips are very rare but include migration from the injection site and occasional failure to scan. Just get the chip checked occasionally at your vets to make sure everything is working OK.

Edit: I’ve checked the legislation. Tattooing dogs in England is covered by The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) regulations 2007. It is legal for lay people to tattoo dogs providing they minimise pain and suffering, use hygienic conditions and do it in accordance with good practice. As usual with legislation it is very vague and open to interpretation. I would honestly just go with the microchip like nearly everyone else does.


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Scleral tattooing – Wikipedia03.23.19

Scleral tattooing is the practice of tattooing the sclera, or white part of the human eye. The dye is not injected into the tissue, but between two layers of the eye, where it spreads out over a large area. The process is not common. Some procedures have caused loss of vision, severe permanent pain, and loss of the eye.[1]

In late 2007, Body Modification Ezine wrote an article describing the first three scleral tattoo procedures performed on sighted eyes. The artist known as Luna Cobra (Howard “Howie” Rollins) experimented on three volunteers; Shannon Larratt, Joshua Matthew Rahn and Paul Mowery (aka “Pauly Unstoppable”/”Farrah Flawless”).[2][3][4] Larratt got the idea after Dutch eye surgeon Gerrit R. J. Melles gave Shannon’s then-wife Rachel Larratt an eye implant.[5] She had a small piece of thin platinum jewelry inserted over the sclera, which is the white layer of the eye, and under the conjunctiva, which is a clear layer covering the sclera. The method Melles had developed included injecting a small drop of saline in order to create a fluid filled pocket before inserting the implant into this pocket, which would gradually shrink and leave only the jewelry behind. Shannon then imagined the saline being replaced with ink, which would spread and end up as a colored layer between the sclera and the conjunctiva, giving the white of the eye a new color.[6] Being a fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Shannon had photoshopped the eyes of his own picture to look like the blue eyes of the Fremen in the novel. He and Luna Cobra then tried to figure out how to color his eyes permanently blue. Eventually Cobra agreed to give it a try if Shannon could find two other people willing to have their eyeballs colored (of these three only Mowery is still alive, making him the person in the world which have had sclera tattoos for the longest period of time).[7]Both Larratt and Rahn died from causes unrelated to the procedure. Luna Cobra tried two different procedures, the first covering the needle with ink and puncturing the eye. This method was deemed unsuccessful, and the second method was attempted. This procedure, in which the sclera was injected with blue dye, was successful. The procedures were effectively painless because there arent nerve endings in the surface of the eye, says the article’s author Shannon Larratt. The aftereffects include fairly minor pain, bruising, and some discomfort. Also, the author, who had the procedure performed on himself, seems to have some blisters between the sclera and conjunctiva. The author twice indicates the risks and possible complications, the most important including blindness, of the procedure and warns that it should not be performed without a professional.[8] Scleral tattooing is still a new body modification, and potential longterm effects have therefore still not manifested themselves.

In 2009 the Oklahoma Senate passed Senate Bill 844, filed by Oklahoma Senator Cliff Branan and supported by the Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology, to make it illegal to tattoo the sclera of the eye.[9][10]

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Yantra tattooing – Wikipedia03.12.19

Yantra tattooing (Thai: RTGS:sak yan[1]; Khmer: sak yoan; Burmese: ) is a form of tattooing originally introduced by Khmer people of the Khmer Empire which influenced much of its culture in the region during its reign. It consists of sacred geometrical, animal and deity designs accompanied by Pali phrases that offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other benefits for the bearer. These days, it remains popular in Cambodia, Thailand, and also in Laos and Myanmar (Burma). Sak means tattoo in Thai and Khmer, while yan and yoan are the Thai and Khmer pronunciation for the Sanskrit word yantra respectively,[2] a type of mystical diagram used in Dharmic religions.[3]

Sak yan designs are normally tattooed by ruesi (the Thai form of rishi), wicha (magic) practitioners, and Buddhist monks, traditionally with a metal rod sharpened to a point (called a khem sak).[4]

Tattoos believed to offer protection and other benefits have been recorded everywhere throughout both mainland Southeast Asia and as far south as Indonesia and the Philippines.[5]. Over the centuries the tradition spread to what is now Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and parts of Myanmar.[6] While the tradition itself originates with indigenous tribal animism, it became closely tied to the Hindu-Buddhist concept of yantra or mystical geometric patterns used during meditation. Tattoos of yantra designs were believed to hold magic power, and were used much like the kolam tattoos of India. For these people, religion is closely tied to the notion of magic, health, and good fortune.[7]

The script used for yantra designs varies according to culture and geography. In Cambodia and central Thailand, Cambodian Khmer script is used, while in northern Thailand one sees yantra tattoos bearing Shan, northern Thai, or Tai Lu scripts, and in Laos the Lao Tham script is employed.[8] The script spells out abbreviated syllables from Pali incantations. Different masters have added to these designs over the centuries through visions received in their meditations. Some yantra designs have been adapted from pre-Buddhist shamanism and the belief in animal spirits that was found in Southeast Asia and incorporated into Thai tradition and culture.

Yantra tattoos are believed to be magic and bestow mystical powers, protection, or good luck.[4] There are three main effects of a yantra tattoo. One is that which benefits the wearer, such as making them more eloquent. Another is that of protection and to ward off evil and hardship. This is commonly used by military personnel, police, taxi drivers, gangsters and others in perceived dangerous professions. Another type is that which affects people around the wearer, such as invoking fear. The tattoo only confers its powers so long as the bearer observes certain rules and taboos, such as abstaining from a certain type of food.[5]

It is believed that the power of sacred tattoos decreases with time. So to re-empower them each year, sak yan masters celebrate with their devotees the Wai Khru ritual. Wai khru means “pay homage to one’s guru”. In Thailand, the most impressive Wai Khru is held at the temple of Wat Bang Phra.[9]

Sak yan designs are also applied to many other media, such as cloth or metal, and placed in one’s house, place of worship, or vehicle as a means of protection[citation needed] from danger or illness, to increase wealth, and to attract lovers. In recent years Hollywood celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, whose tattoos were inked by Ajahn Noo Ganpai in Thailand, have made them popular among women.[10]

However a modern movement in Thailand seeks to progress away from their animistic past. As part of this movement, many modern-day Thais view yantra tattoos as nothing more than good-luck symbols that are stylish.[11]

There are many traditional types and designs of yantra tattoos, but some of the most well-known and popular include:

Many internet sites recommend Thailand as the place to attain the most refined ritual tattoos and consider the country as the most popular for learning this art. Every year, hundreds of foreigners in search of original and magical tattoos come to Thailand to have their tattoos done.[14] In Southeast Asia, Thailand is by far the country with the highest number of devotees.

While tattoos in the west are largely a matter of aesthetics, in Thailand they are imbued with both spirituality and superstition. The designs, lines of script, geometric patterns and animal shapes, are deeply interwoven with Buddhist and animist imagery that some Thais fear Westerners fail to appreciate.[citation needed] Tattoos of religious deities are problematic, especially if they are below the waist. In Southeast Asian culture, the head is the most sacred part of the body. The further down the body, the less sacred, and foreigners with religious figures inked on their legs have caused upset. On the main highway into Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi Airport, 15-metre-wide billboards declare “It’s wrong to use Buddha as a decoration or tattoo”. Some groups want a complete ban on any tattoos of religious figures.[17]

Devotee of Wat Bang Phra covered in sak yant

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2,000-year-old Tattooing Needle Made From Cactus Spines …03.01.19

A 2,000-year-old tattooing tool has been discovered in Utahthe oldest artifact of its kind found in the the Western U.S., predating the second oldest by a millennium.

The pen-sized tattooing tool was found by chance by Andrew Gillreath-Brown, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University. He was carrying out an inventory of archaeological material that had been collecting dust for over 40 years. The collection was excavated in 1972 from the Greater Bears Ears Landscape in southeastern Utah and includes ancient specimens such as hair, paleofeces, bone, charcoal and maize cobs.

While organizing the collection, he noticed a bag with an unusual artifact. It had a wooden handle with plant material wrapped around itand two very small spines attached to the end. When I noticed that the ends were stained black, I got really excited as my mind immediately thought of tattooing, he told Newsweek.

Gillreath-Brown and his colleagues then studied the tool. Their findings, which have now been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, conclude that it is an early tattooing tool.

The handle of the tool was made from a skunkbush and the needle was created from two prickly pear cactus spines. These pieces were held together with strips of yucca leaf.

The 2,000-year-old tattooing needle discovered in Utah. Ink can be seen at the end of the cactus spine. Bob Hubner/WSU

Researchers analyzed the tips using an electron microscope, X-ray and spectroscopy, while Gillreath-Brown also created a replica tool and used it to perform tattoo tests on pig skin. Findings showed the pigment on the needles contained carbon, which is commonly used in tattooing. He said the ink was probably made from carbon generated by fire.

Explaining how the tool would have been used, he added: I think it would have hurt some. [Unlike modern tattooing] it would have required repeated poking Prickly pear cactus spines are actually very efficient compared to other cacti for puncturing (shown in a recent study). It also helps that the tattooing would have stayed within two to three millimeters of the outer skin, as if it goes much deeper the pain does increase.

Before this tool was discovered, the oldest tattooing needle found in western North America was an artifact fromAztec Ruins in New Mexico that dates to between 1100 and 1280 A.D.This was made of four cactus spines and the handle was made from reed. The newly discovered tool dates to between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.

Tattooing is an artform found in cultures worldwide. How, when and why it began is unclearbut there is evidence of its practice going back at least 5,000 years. The earliest known tattoos were found on Otzi the Icemana prehistoric hunter gatherer who was found preserved in a glacier in 1991. Otzi, who died around 3300 B.C., was found to have 61 tattoos, consisting of 19 groups of black lines.

Understanding the cultural practice of tattooing among early inhabitants of southwestern U.S. is particularly difficult as there are no preserved human remains to study, and no written accounts. As a result, the discovery of this tool provides an insight into these ancient people living in Utah 2,000 years ago.

Close-up view of the tattooing tool. Bob Hubner/WSU

It has a great significance for understanding how people managed relationships and how status may have been marked on people in the past during a time when population densities were increasing in the Southwest, Gillreath-Brown said. Tattoos are a permanent marker that individuals would carry with them anywhere they went. This makes it very different from other body decoration and ornamental practices.

Full size tattoo tool. Andrew Gillreath-Brown, Washington State University

Speculating, he said the practice of tattooing probably started at least a few generations before this tool was created, maybe during the Basketmaker II period, which began around 1,500 B.C.

It is important to discover timing and occurrences of prehistoric tattooingi.e. identifying the oldest occurrences of tattoosbecause it allows us to understand the reasons behind body modification, and how that has changed over time, Gillreath-Brown said. This research also sheds light onto the tattoo tools, and the significance of Indigenous traditions that were historically suppressed following European arrival to North America.

Close up of the tattoo tool. Andrew Gillreath-Brown, Washington State University

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Infamous Studio02.10.19

About Us

Established in 2004, Infamous Studio is built on over twenty five years of international tattooing experience.In providing high quality custom and classic tattooing we have earned a solid reputation within our local and the international tattoo community.With our professional and knowledgeable staff and unique environment we work hard to deliver the goods for a lifetime of satisfaction.

State regulated hygiene standards are maintained.

* Please Note; You must come in to make appointments, we dont provide price quotes via telephone or email. We prefer face to face interaction.

We are located on the island of Sdermalm in Stockholm, in the SoFo area- bars, restaurants, cafes, shopping and artsy shit.

Our doors are open to the serious collector & novices alike.

Most work and consultations are done by appointment, however we can often be caught for a drop-in.

Come as you are, we’ll help you change that!

– Please arrive on time for your appointment.- It is recommended to rest well and to of eaten prior to your appointment.- It is not recommended to bring a bunch of friends with you when you get tattooed, only you can come into the working areas.- If you have children it is best that they dont accompany you when you are to be tattooed.- We do not tattoo anyone under the age of 18, bring ID.- We do not tolerate drunks or people otherwise intoxicated.- You must give 48 hours notice to change or cancel you appointment in order to receive a refund of your booking fee. Our time is as valuable as yours.

Leave a bandage on until the following morning or 8-12 hours.Remove bandage & wash thoroughly warm water & mild soap.Gently pat dry with clean towel. Do not re-bandage.Clean tattoo with water 2 or 3 times throughout the 1st day.Use soap only if necessary.Do not apply any lotion/cream for the first day-the tattoo must have air.

For the next 7-14 days with clean hands lightly apply perfume free lotion/cream 2-3 times daily.You can use less, but not more.The tattoo must not feel wet or dry.Continue as above until healed.

Your tattoo will scab & peel lightly.It will be in the colors of the tattoo & look similar to fish food as it flakes off- this is completely normal.

-WHILE YOUR TATTOO IS HEALING-Do not pick at your tattoo! Picking and scratching at your tattoo will damage it!

Do not sunburn, sauna, swim or exercise strenuously with your fresh tattoo.

No wool, polyester or tight fitting clothing directly against your new tattoo.

Do not listen to tattoo experts in bars or on the street.


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Body Art – Hawaiian and Polynesian tattooing01.31.19

Body Art

by Betty Fullard-Leo

Images: The copperline engravings of the Polynesians originated from sketches done by european artists visiting various islands in the South Pacific during the early 1800’s.

Queen Kamamalu had a tattoo applied to her tongue as an expression of her deep grief when her mother-in-law died in the 1820s. Missionary William Ellis watched the procedure, commenting to the queen that she must be undergoing great pain. The queen replied, He eha nui no, he nui roa ra kuu aroha. (Great pain indeed, greater is my affection.)

Early explorers found that both men and women wore tattoos in old Hawaii for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the tattoos were purely decorative. Jacques Arago, who visited the Islands in 1819 as a draftsman with the Freycinet expedition, noted that some men were heavily tattooed on only one side of their bodies. He wrote, They looked like men half burnt, or daubed with ink, from the top of the head to the sole of the foot. Hawaiian historian Samuel Kamakau noted that this solid black tattooing was called pahupahu. It was commonly applied to warriors in the Marquesas as a disguise, and it is thought that such tattooing may have set apart Hawaiian warriors as well.

Oral traditions tell of warriors defeated in battle who were taken prisoner, then beaten and tattooed. As a final indignity, their eyelids were turned up and tattooed on the inside, called maka uhi. Sometimes outcasts born into the kauwa (slave) class were permanently marked with a curved line above the bridge of the nose, or a circular spot in the middle of the forehead, with curved lines like brackets on either side of the eyes.

Tattooing was an art unknown in the western world prior to Captain Cooks first voyage through Polynesia. The word tattoo is one of only a few words used internationally that have a Polynesian origin coming from the word tatau used in Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa. In Hawaii the word became kakau.

Interestingly, tattoo designs are thought to supply one more clue to the origin of the Polynesian peoples, as they bear close resemblance to the geometrical designs found on Lapita pottery. The Lapita people originated in Melanesia and Southeast Asia about 3,000 B.C., and early Lapita voyagers reached Tonga about 1,300 B.C., later settling Samoa and eastward into the Pacific. Shards of pottery they carried with them have been found throughout the Pacific, pottery whose curvilinear and rectilinear shapes, spirals, chevrons and interlocking elements are so similar to Polynesian tattoo designs, historians are certain there was an ancient connection. Even stylized masks and sea creatures appeared on Lapita pottery, as it did in early Polynesian tattoo forms.

Other Hawaiian tattoo designs might depict squares, triangles, crescents and figures of aumakua (personal gods), such as the lizard or shark. As recently as 1923, publisher Lorin Thurston told of seeing a woman with a row of triangular dots around her ankle as a charm against sharks, applied because a legend tells of a woman who was bitten by her aumakua, a shark. When the woman cried out that he was supposed to protect her, the shark let her go and replied, I will not make that mistake again, for I will see the marks on your ankle.

After Western contact, tattoo designs evolved to include more fanciful shapes such as figures of birds, goats, fans, guns, etc. When King Kamehameha died, many Hawaiians had Kamehameha, 1819 tattooed on themselves to show their respect for the great king.

Tattoos were applied with needles, sometimes made of beaks and claws of birds, but more often made of the knife-like barbs on the sides of the tails of certain fish, such as palani, kala and pualu. Some bones were split to form double pointed needles. Some were grooved from the base to the point of the barb with the dull upper end wrapped in fiber to hold ink in reserve. Needles could be bound together to form multi-points when large areas were to be covered with designs. Some needles were attached to wooden handles.

Ink was made by several methods. Some plants produce a highly acidic juice, which could be used for tattoos marking the death of a loved one, that would last six months to a year. If permanent tattoos were desired, an intense black ink would be made of the burned soot of the kukui nut. Arago noted in 1819 that kukui soot was mixed with juice from coconuts and sugar cane to attain a workable consistency. Fish bones charred with kukui oil and burning sandalwood chips might also be pounded into ash and added to the juice from the root of a plant called naneleau to make a pigment for tattooing.

In his journal, Arago described the process of applying a tattoo: They fix the bone of some bird to a stick, slit the bone in the middle, so as to give it two or three points, which they dip in a black colour…they apply these points to the part to be tattooed, and then they strike gently on the stick, to which the bone is attached, with a wand, two feet in length. Moli (tattoo needles) dating from 1200 to 1300 were discovered in a shelter near Hanauma Bay on Oahu in 1958, but such artifacts are extremely rare.

Historians have determined that anyone could have a tattoo, but often it was the more affluent who were the most extensively adorned, possibly because a skilled tattoo master had to be paid, and poor people could not afford his services. Hula dancers, both men and women were usually generously tattooed. Women often had tattoos on their fingers, hands, and wrists and frequently wore band-type decorations on their ankles and lower calves. Queen Kaahumanu was known to be tattooed on her legs, the palm of her left hand and her tongue. Palm tattoos have been recovered on mummified remains.

Jacques Arago wrote (The women) make drawings of necklaces and garters on the skin in a manner really wonderful; their other devises consist of the horns, helmets, muskets, rings, but more particularly fans and goats. Those of the men were muskets, cannon, goats and dominos; together with the name of Tammeahmah (Kamehameha), and the day of his death.

Hawaiian tattoos were applied under strict religious rules. It was an art attended by ritualistic ceremony, and often the designs chosen had kaona, or hidden meaning and power. Today, with a resurgence of Hawaiian pride, tattoos are becoming increasingly common. Its one of the few ancient art forms that is truly Polynesian in origin which has spread throughout the world.

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Story appeared originally in Coffee Times print magazine and appears online for archival purposes only. Any use or reprinting of these stories without the expressed written consent of the author is prohibited.

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Body Art – Hawaiian and Polynesian tattooing

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Jack & Dianes Tattoo > Home01.24.19

Welcome to Jack & Diane’s Tattooing

Welcome to the Web site of Jack & Diane’s Tattooing.Since 1981 Jack & Diane’s has become one of the premier Tattoo Studios in the U.S.This year (2017) will be our 36th year of tattooing here on the Coast.We would like to thank everyone that has walked through our doors.It has been a lot of fun and a great experience.We will continue our efforts to make your tattoo experience the best we can.

Phone Number: (228) 864-4764 / Email:

Business Hours: Monday-Saturday 12-9. Closed Sundays

Like us on facebook @ Jack & Diane’s Tattoo.

Check out our Custom Chopper built by Jack. Click on the “About” link above.

Studio Tips:

Have a valid State issued ID if you plan on visiting us, it is a State law that you must be 18 to get tattooed.The piercing age is also 18 with the exception of the outer ear.

Children under 13 are not allowed in the Studio, unless getting ears pierced.

No photography without permission inside the studio. This includes cell-phones.

Please use cell-phone etiquette while in our studio, we cannot provide the service you desire if you are on the phone.

Due to our busy work schedule, if you are considering a custom design you must contact us a few days before you plan on getting the tattoo, so that we have ample time to draw the design.

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Jack & Dianes Tattoo > Home

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