What is tattoo?
Tattoo, according to Wikipedia, is a form of body modification made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.
The word “tattoo’’ reportedly has two major derivations. The first is from the Polynesian word “ta’’, which means striking something and the Tahitian word “tatau’’, which means marking something.
The tattoo tradition began over 5,000 years ago and the patterns are as diverse as the people who wear tattoos. Tattoos are created by inserting coloured materials beneath the skins surface.
However, there are some reports that the first tattoos were created by accident.
“Someone had a small wound and rubbed it with a hand that was soiled with soap and ashes; when the wound healed, it left a permanent mark on the skin,’’ says one of the reports.
In spite of the growing interest of social scientists in the study of tattoo traditions, there have been scanty historical records of the age-old practice.
All the same, tattoos come in various forms and designs and they have been used as ornaments and religious symbols by humans for thousands of years, with examples found on numerous preserved prehistoric specimens.
Its prevalence notwithstanding, experts insist that modern tattoos are not a cheap tradition, as tattoo artists usually charge good fees for their services.
“Most tattoo artworks are charged by the hour. This is always the case with large pieces which take multiple sessions to finish or anything that requires freehand,’’ says Mike Paul, a London-based artist.
“The hourly rate is, however, determined by factors such as operation costs, artists’ time, type and quality of the design, among other things.
“Some shops charge as little as 50 U.S. dollars (about N8, 000) per hour, while other fees may be as much as $250 (about N40, 000),’’ Paul adds.
However, Mr Ononiwu George, an Abuja-based artist, says that tattoos are permanent body marks which people choose to wear tattoos for various reasons.
“Some people wear tattoo because they want to remember somebody or an event. Others wear it because they want to express themselves artistically.
“Such people want to communicate some messages via the artwork on their bodies; particularly those messages which they may not be able to convey in words.
“However, some people wear tattoo for rebellious purposes; they just want to be different,’’ he adds.
Obi, who is into body arts, including tattoo art, says that tattoos are permanent body arts.
“We, however, do temporary body arts, face paintings and glamour arts; we call them celebration arts.
“Celebration arts are those kinds of designs you wear during birthdays or fashion shows. Besides, you may just want to take some photographs with the body arts, looking different.
“What makes the difference is the duration of the artwork on the body.
“Tattoos are more expensive because, they are permanent; the price ranges from N5, 000 to N40, 000, depending on your location,’’ Obi says.
Miss Rose Edobor, a trader, says that wearing tattoo has increasingly become fashionable among the youth.
“Young people have a liking for tattoo; tattoo may not appeal to you when you are old because by that time, your skin would have become wrinkly and saggy.
“So, when I become old, it is not going to make any difference if my skin has been tattooed or not. I just love tattoo because it beautifies my skin,’’ she says.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Osas Igbinosa, a barber, says that he likes the tattoo on his body because it gives him a sense of self-satisfaction.
“I like the tattoo on my body because it has a special meaning to me; anyway, it looks quite good on me.
“ I do not care what people think about tattoo, it is my body and I see the tattoo on my body as quite trendy.
“The tattoo designs are a mere decoration of my body and I love art; I love to wear art,’’ he says.
However, many people seem to have different conceptions or misconceptions about tattoo.
For instance, Mr Paul Phipps, an evangelist, insists that God has warned people to refrain from wearing tattoo because tattoo inscriptions are forbidden.
“God in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy specifically warned the children of Israel not to tattoo their body because any form of body inscriptions is forbidden.
“Tattoos even have some spiritual connotations, as they may be occultist in nature and whoever engraves such marks in his or her body can never enter the kingdom of God.
“So, it is not advisable for anyone who is a child of God to put on tattoo because it has to do with body inscriptions.
“Body inscriptions, no matter how they are done — whether manually or mechanically — involve blood and they are, therefore, not pleasing in the sight of God.
“Tattoos, whether permanent or temporary, are considered as some of things which God detests so much.
Expressing similar viewpoints, Alhaji Fuad Adeyemi, the Chief Imam of Al-Habibiyyah Mosque, Abuja, says that tattoos are forbidden in Islam, adding that Islam is an all-encompassing religion that touches all aspects of human endeavour.
“In Islam, tattooing is a forbidden area. Prophet Muhammad says the curse of Allah is upon those who those who wear tattoo and those who make tattoo inscriptions.
“Based on the teachings of the Hadith, it becomes a prohibited thing for a Muslim to wear tattoo.
“The main reason why tattoo is prohibited is that it mutilates the human body and changes the creation of Almighty Allah.
“When you try to reconstruct your body, it is, therefore, Haram (proscribed by Islam). It is also a sort of deceit to pretend to be what you are not,’’ Adeyemi adds.
The different viewpoints notwithstanding, anthropologists insist that tattoo is an ancient tradition in all cultures which has definitely come to stay. (NANFeatures)
By Dorcas Jonah