Tattoos Are a Part of Our History, So Why Are They So Taboo?
We are still being subjected to unfair prejudices when it comes to this practice
Tattoos have been around for centuries. From Native Americans to ancient Egyptians to Maori tribes, tattoos have held significance in a lot of cultures. They symbolize a person’s identity in a number of ways, whether it’s status within a community, passage into adulthood, or a connection with a particular group.
Art and symbolism are some of the most consistent forms of communication we humans have sustained over the span of our existence. Art, drawings, and symbols have all, time and time again, helped us to express ourselves — whether to communicate with others or with ourselves. It is only natural that we have come to wear forms of symbolic art on our skin forever.
However, as European imperialism spread around the globe, the tradition of tribal tattooing and body art in Asian and African countries was denigrated and deemed “savage” because the practice was unfamiliar to European colonists. Settlers and missionaries imposed their beliefs of modesty and Christianity on the areas where they ruled, and tattoo culture slowly died away. They called this process of killing off cultures and practices “modernization.” Tattoos changed from being an expression of pride in community and identity to being a marker of an era gone by.
Body art for an Indian woman can be a symbol of liberation and a rejection of oppressive and limiting rules.
In recent years, getting a tattoo has been seen as a sign of rebellion and badassness around the world. Still, the tattoo taboo has survived the age of colonialism and still exists in many cultures. Being a member of the South and Southeast Asian community, I find the taboo around tattoos in my culture rather sad. Not only is it disappointing to see people forget their own history, but it is even sadder to see them fight over ideas that were forced upon them only a few centuries ago.
For ages, tattoos in Indian culture were worn to symbolize status or community. Different tribes across the country used ink of varying colors, and tattoos were placed on different parts…