The Impact of Tattoos Across Cultures

The Impact of Tattoos Across Cultures

Tattoos are an exquisite yet contentious form of body art, often serving as both an acknowledgment or commitment mark for many individuals, while tribally they may signify power, status and age.

Tattooing has long been used as a form of communication amongst various tribal cultures around the globe, dating back millennia.


Tattooing originated among ancient cultures out of an instinctual desire to mark oneself with patterns and symbols that held significance, whether as expression of personal aesthetic, family lineage communication or tribal distinction; tattoos have long been found across cultures around the globe.

Tattoos first made an appearance during the Upper Paleolithic period when incised designs were carved onto humanoid figurines’ bodies. Egyptian tattooing became more widespread during Ptolemaic dynasty (221-205 B.C), when King Ptolemy had himself tattooed with Dionysus’ ivy leaves as his patron deity’s image; historians also have discovered pre-Columbian South American mummies covered in multiple tattoos while Ancient Greeks and Romans used tattoos as a way of identifying criminals or members of religious sects, with similar practices carried over from Ancient Greece into Scythians culture as well.

Western sailors did not become familiar with traditional Polynesian pictographic tattoos until the 19th century. At that time, Western sailors often inked their names or nicknames around their necks, and some would even get tattoos featuring pigs and roosters to prevent drowning. Others even got ink marking the date they crossed either the equator or Cape Horn.

Tattoos were also becoming incredibly fashionable among women at this time, who took part in circuses and sideshows to show off their body art for money. While now seen as exploited members of society, once considered one of the primary sources of income for females at a time when jobs were scarce.


Many tattoos carry deeper symbolic significance beyond aesthetic appeal. A dagger may symbolize strength and power while a rose could represent beauty and pain. Hamsas are commonly seen in Eastern cultures and religions to represent protection and good luck while All Seeing Eye tattoo symbols may have different representations depending on religion and culture.

Tattoos can also serve as a symbolic way to mark a significant event or person in our lives. For instance, semicolon tattoos have become increasingly popular for people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses as a reminder that life goes on after past attempts and that our story continues onward.

Tattoos often carry specific cultural meaning, so it is crucial that you understand their symbolism before getting them. For instance, when choosing Japanese Kanji tattoos it is imperative that you understand their symbols; otherwise you could end up with gibberish that doesn’t make any sense to anyone who knows Japanese!

Tattooing may be seen by some as cultural appropriation. When singer Ariana Grande debuted her new tattoo featuring Japanese characters for “7 Rings”, some on social media criticized it as cultural appropriation because she didn’t understand their significance. Stewart highlights the need to consider an individual’s intentions first before judging their misguided tribute to another culture.

Penelope Tentakles, one of the foremost tattoo artists today, does not oppose culturally-informed tattoos as she believes their appropriateness depends on context and message – for instance the semicolon tattoo has become an emblem for fighting suicide and depression.


Tattoos have historically been associated with criminality and thus led to discrimination and limited job opportunities for those sporting visible tattoos in the workplace. This happens so much that people wonder if can you go to heaven with tattoos. Luckily, perception is slowly changing with more companies becoming accepting towards employees with visible tattoos; but remember, attitude and work ethic will ultimately determine your employment success more than physical appearance will.

Stigma surrounding mental health remains even as treatments have improved and made more scientific sense. Stigma may prevent those living with mental illnesses from seeking medical care or speaking up about their conditions; furthermore, it may impede personal relationships and cause them to feel alone and isolated.

One way to combat stigma is through active involvement in both your own recovery and advocating for others. You could also join organizations that aid individuals navigate day-to-day challenges like employment disputes, healthcare appointments/claims/claimant management issues/financial challenges/housing concerns etc. Additionally, advocates are available should you feel overwhelmed by stigma surrounding your condition.

Stigma can arise for any number of reasons, including gender, age group and social identity. As human beings tend to rely on stereotypes when evaluating people and situations based on these criteria, such as introversion (more likely because most of your friends tend to be extroverts) may lead to being stigmatized in a similar fashion as extroverts; similarly with sexuality, gender race ethnicity. Even how you speak and act could potentially be perceived as stigmatizing.


Many cultures around the world continue to embrace tattoos as a form of self-expression and identification, whether that means showing patriotism, showing ideals or passions, or marking milestones like coming-of-age, membership in clan or religious cult membership or coming-of-age milestones. Furthermore, tattoos may even act as personal ID badges in prison environments or gang affiliation.

Tattoos have become an ubiquitous symbol in popular culture. Kim Kardashian sports one reading “Sanity,” while Justin Bieber has over 30. Tattoos have also become more accepted at work; though there are some companies with strict dress codes who refuse to hire people with visible tattoos for fear of customer or employee backlash; though this trend seems to be shifting as more individuals embrace themselves and their individuality.

Tattoos have an intriguing history across cultures worldwide, serving both as symbols of pride and belonging as well as acts against culture and tradition. Some see non-indigenous people receiving tribal tattoos from indigenous societies as cultural appropriation; yet some support the practice as it allows people to connect with a specific culture more fully through it – ultimately it comes down to personal choice and what matters most for each individual person.


Tattoos have become an increasingly common choice worldwide. While each individual may interpret tattoos differently, most see them simply as an expressive means. Some get them for religious or spiritual reasons while others just enjoy how they look. No matter your motivation for getting one though, it is crucial that you fully consider its impact before getting any inked on yourself.

Tattooing was once seen as an illegal practice associated with criminals and gangs, until its rise became part of modern subcultures and counterculture movements in Western culture. With these new movements came tattoo parlors catering specifically to niche clientele such as sailors or bikers.

As tattoo culture evolved, so too did its stigmata – tattoos became symbols of rebellion against mainstream society, becoming part of everyday life and even having positive associations. Tattoos now serve as popular forms of self-expression and marking major life milestones for individuals.

Tattoos first made their appearance in the United States via indigenous cultures such as Eskimos and Native Americans, who used crude tools like soot-covered threads or pointed bones for application. Although often painful, tattoos soon gained widespread appeal as people sought them out due to their beauty and symbolic meaning.

Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of American traditional and Japanese styles tattooing, reflecting a desire to preserve ancient cultural forms while modernizing them for contemporary audiences. New York City is widely recognized as a global hub for tattooing; its culture has had an enormous influence on global tattoo trends.


Jeremy Lawson