Sunday, April 18, 2021

The mixed messages of tattoos

Lately, I have realized that a lot of people are getting more and more into body art and piercings and, for some, it has even become an addiction.

It used to be cool to have just one small butterfly or knife where the parents couldn’t see. Tongue and belly rings were hidden nicely and only shown at night or on the streets far from home. But now, people boldly show their piercing and tattoos and have even started with outrageous designs.

These days everywhere I look on Facebook there is some tattoo artist advertising themselves, which makes me wonder if that’s the new top career for our youths or it’s just a sudden infatuation with a trend that seemed to be dying.

Tattoos have advanced from just simply flower and spider designs we used to know and people have gotten outrageously creative with their designs. So where did this trend or, should I say, art start and what was it meant to represent?

The art of tattoo making started in ancient civilization in 2000 BC in ancient Egypt but their paintings in the wall indicate that tattoos were already practiced in their society long before that. So I guess it’s safe to say they have been around for a very long time. It is a very old art form wherein the body is used as canvas.

The word tattoo has various meanings from different languages since it has been practiced by several civilizations for several reasons. The word is a Polynesian word, which means to mark something.

I have heard of stories of people who got tattoos written in Chinese thinking they were getting a certain word only to find out later that they got something else. For example, instead of the word ‘hope’ they ended up with ‘chicken soup’ inscribed on their bodies. Throughout history, body art has captured the way that humans relate their experiences to their physical body.

In ancient times, tattoos were done as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, signs of religious and spiritual devotion, serves as medal for bravery, a mark of fertility, love, punishment, protection as well as the mark of an outcast, slave and convict.

It has also been used to brand Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Sailors from Europe used to have the picture of the crucifixion of Christ tattooed on their backs for protection from flogging since it was considered a crime to defile Christ’s image.

We have people who have tattooed names of their families and relatives on their bodies, words of motivation, loved ones they have lost.

Tattoos as body art, although mostly used as a fashion statement, are used for self-expression. As a country that is considered to be a Christian country, what do we say about the sudden eruption or, rather, resurrection of tattooing and what messages it sends out?

What does a tattoo say about you, is it merely just a piece of art to decorate the body, or is there a more deeper meaning behind it. Tattoos have been used as gang signs, to show which one you belong to and they were also used during the time of slavery to mark slaves. So is it, therefore, a sign of oppression, a sign of a person being violent.

From a Christian perspective of things, the Bible says in Leviticus 19:37: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” Do we then say tattoos are ok since a lot of Christian youth have joined in the trend by having tattoos of the cross and verses engraved on their bodies.

So what does a tattoo represent, is it just a fashion statement, an accessory or there is more you are saying with your body art?

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