What is a Tattoo? A tattoo is a permanent coloration of the second layer of the dermis. Puncturing the skin and inserting non-toxic ink through a hypodermic needle produce it. The word Tattoo derives from a couple different roots. The first being, the Tahitian word "tatu" meaning, "to make a mark". Another being the Dutch expression, "Doe Het Tap Toe" given by the continuous drum beating or rapping similar to the sounds an early tattooist made with the needle and mallet like hammer during the tattooing process. It is claimed that tattoos date back to 12,000 years B.C. From culture to culture, tattooing has had many purposes and is difficult to pin point its place on the time line. .
Tattoos have popped up through out history as ritual art, pagan decoration, art to mark a rite of passage, and numerous others. Tattoos have always played an important role in tradition and ritual. Tribes would use certain marks to decipher rank or warrior status and for women, coming of age, marriage and skill. Tattoos were worn around the wrist and finger and were believed to ward off illness and plague. It was understood that an image of an animal on a male meant that he bore the spirit of that animal. I was also believed that if one bore a mark that held a higher status than that he was born, he would be the bearer of "the mark of Borneo", and he would be doomed to be labeled, an imposter in the afterlife. A fate that was considered, much worse than death itself. Petroglyphs served the purpose to put events in a chronological order and to call upon the spirits to service and protect the ones who drew them. Tattoos served the same ritual purpose.
In the late 1700's, Captain Cook, a sailor and explorer, brought back from one of his explorations to Polynesia, a heavily tattooed man named Omai. Omai was seen through London as a side show freak though he was viewed as a noble warrior. He soon created quite a stir and many men and women wanted to have markings or tattoos of their own.