Decorating the mummies of Egyptian royalty and Neolithic cavemen, tattoos were a universal human practice.
Tattooing is documented in ancient Chinese literature Dating back to 12,000 years B.C., and the writings of Julius Caesar. In the past, tattoos have played an important role in ritual and tradition, identifying clans in northern Europe, indicating social status in Polynesia, advertising skills such as weaving in Borneo, and warding off illness in China.
An English word "tattoo" comes from the Tahitian "tatau" meaning "to mark or strike twice," a reference to the traditional method of application with sharpened sticks.
The tattoos popularity in western culture has waxed and waned. Extensively popular in pre-Christian European cultures, the Pope banned tattoos in 787 A.D. for their association with pagan rites. Between the 12th and 16th centuries, disappearing in the west, the art form was revived in the late 1690s by sailors returning from voyages in the South Seas.
This enthralled the European upper class and by 1898 nearly 1 in 5 members of the gentry wore tattoos! The creation of the first electric tattooing machine in 1891 brought tattoos within the financial means of the masses.
In America, the Chatham Square in New York City was the Mecca of tattoo art. Just before World War I, cosmetic tattooing became widely popular. Colored lips, tattooed blush on cheeks, and eyeliner were quite the go.
Health regulations brought to the demise of NYC's tattoo parlors and changing mores caused tattoos to lose their social status. In the end of World War II tattoos were largely associated with juvenile delinquents, criminals and seamen. The liberated 1960s brought renaissance in tattoo art. A serious outburst of hepatitis in 1961 nearly resulted in the demise of the art form in America, but by the late 1960s tattoos were again gaining public favor.
Nowadays, tattooing has gone main stream with everyone from movie stars to grandmothers dressing up with body art. It is appeal crosses class and socioeconomic boundaries with tattooists being recognized as fine artists. Cosmetic tattoos are immensely popular with permanent eyeliner the most sought enhancement, followed closely by eyebrows, lip liner and lip coloring.