There is not any recorded historical account of exactly how tattooing originated. But it is thought that tattooing was discovered when ancient peoples rubbed sooted ash into wounds as a disinfectant. Thus the result of any such subcutaneous trauma being loaded with a pigmented substance naturally resulted in such a permanent marking.
This is why tattooing is often associated with Prometheus. The titan who brought fire to mankind from the Gods. For without his noble gift people would not have discovered how to adorn their bodies with such varying beauties. Also this is why the tattoo arts are mostly concerned with the fire element & thus stigmatized over the passions it invokes with its fiery energy.
Tattoos in culture carry a heavy weight to them. They are permanent body modifications. According to the Philosopher Gilles Deleuze social forces themselves are constantly marking & modifying human bodies. Instilling the body with a multiplicity of engendered codes and norms. In this way tattooing emerged as the physical embodiment of this undergoing of socialization. Only the visual aspect was more conducive to focalizing a person under the political gaze of a society.
Tattooing is not an “end all” to socialization, but it plays certain roles in a society to mark the human being:
1. Signifying Social Status: It was common for a large percent of the population of British gentry to undergo a process of tattooing. It helps to identify Kahunas, Tribal Chiefs & members rank in certain hierarchical organizations including Capitalism.
2.Incorporation into a Tribe: In tribes or even circles members of a particular group have themselves emblematized with symbols or signifiers attributed to the given group/gang/tribe.
3.Penalization: Marking Prisoners/Slaves. During the Holocaust the Nazis tattooed prisoners with their identity numbers. 4. Harnessing Magical Properties: Tattoos can be instilled with magical spells and blessings which give the recipient special powers and abilities. Often times they are accompanied with a specific ritual. These sort of tattoos must always performed by a priest/holy man or shaman.
5. Process of Recording History: These tattoos embody a specific meaning about the past or in order to represent a specific attribute particular to the individual. Sometimes people with extreme chronic illnesses will have their blood types tattooed onto them.
All tattoos encompass a cosmetic aspect to them. To some people they are like wounds that never healed, they hide them in shame. Something done in a moment of weakness. To others they are marks of excellence.
Modern Application of Tattoos
Modern tattoos as they are currently being performed in the venues of capitalist free market temples are done as to incorporate the individual into the sphere of commodities. The tattoo is symbolic of a transaction, between the salesman (artist) and the customer (recipient). It is somewhat of a recording of history, where the individual identifies what socializing flow he/she is caught into. Usually objects of pop-culture candy arises (popularized imagery legitimized by the given sphere of communal influence). For example: Tattoos are a signifier among groups of hipsters and act to legitimize a persons incorporation into such a community.