Our body is a piece of art in itself. Many people go an extra mile decorating their bodies with an art form. A tattoo is basically the insertion of pigment or dyes or ink into the dermis layer of your skin and they can be temporary or permanent depending on your choice.
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The tattoo history dates back to the 18th century where people of Samoa islands practiced this a lot. In Samoan islands, the word tattoo was derived from the word ‘Tatau.’
The word Tatau meant ‘to strike.’ The word ‘Tattoo,’ which is in English comes from the Dutch word ‘Taptoe.’ The tattoo art spread across the globe, across many countries. India has got its own set of tattoos which has become a cultural thing, especially for the tribes. Indian Tattoos and their practice date back to ancient times.
Tattoos are a significant trend nowadays in many places. If you decide to get a tattoo, it is pretty obvious that you have a big reason behind this decision. Tattoos represent a story, a fact, an event, an incident or anything worth your memory. The choice of the type of tattoo (temporary or permanent) is all yours.
Tattoos are categorised as the pictorial ones, the symbolic ones, and the decorative ones. The term that defines the art of making a tattoo is called Tattooing.
The Pictorial tattoos represent a particular thing or a pet or a person that has an important role or place in your life. The Symbolic tattoos depict the actual meaning or reason behind that particular design whereas the Decorative tattoos are merely for decorating the body without any specific meaning or reason behind them. You will find many people getting an Indian tattoo to pay their respect to the Indian culture.
Since now you know about how old the tattoo tradition is, let’s talk about the history of Indian Tattoos. For hundreds of years’ Indian tattoos have been around for various reasons. It is not only to beautify the human body but to also represent traits of the community or society.
Therefore, tattoos represent status in society; some get them to decorate their bodies; some get them done to pay respect to their ancestors or cultures. Many tribe members ink themselves to get identified that they belong to that particular tribe of a region and it also helps in quickly identifying their bodies if they were to die in a battle.
It is very common among tribes. In northern India many ladies get their tattoos done to represent jewelry that cannot be taken away from them and also to highlight when they come to age for getting married. The young girls in certain tribes get a segment of tattoo every year and when it is complete, it means the girl is ready to get married.
Also to protect girls from the other tribes, they were tattooed to make them look unappealing and avoid their abduction. The Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is known to protect its tribal girls this way. In Singhpo tribe it is the other way round. Only married women and men are to be tattooed. The young and unmarried girls are prohibited from getting inked. In Arunachal Pradesh, the Noctes and Wanchos tribal people regard tattoos as the representation of power, courage, strength, etc.
The ancient methods of getting a tattoo were excruciating. It involved cutting and piercing of skin using thorns and sharp-edged objects and filling them up with animal fat mixed with colors especially the blue color. As the wound heals and the tattoo appears, it ends up being clear and dark. The Apatani and Singhpo tribes have the oldest form of tattoo art.
In Southern India the ancient Indian tattoos such as the nomadic Korathi and Kollam tattoos are prominent. The Indian tattoos here are the geometric patterns which are tattooed on calves, hands, and shins. The Indian tattoo, i.e. the Kollam tattoo is a labyrinth-like design which is believed to ward off all the evil spirits around you.
The Central Indian people have their reasons to get tattoos. Just like the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, the Dhanuks tribe in the state of Bihar ink their women to make them unpleasant and unappealing to look at. In Jharkhand, the tribes use tattoos to note down events that took place. It is noting down history over the body so that it isn’t lost.
Tattoos are for both, men and women and they vary from person to person and design to design. As you already know, tattoos represent something, i.e. they have a particular reason to be. They depict a loved one, a tragedy never to forget about, a sign to get identified with, a design that represents your soul or your characteristics, strength, power, etc. Some people get Indian Tattoos done to represent the roots of their family or tribe. Different Indian tattoos signify different meanings.
There are Indian Tattoos named the Kollam tattoos which are a labyrinth design. Many tribal people get this Indian tattoo done believing that it wards off all the evil spirits in this world and makes it easy to meet their fellow tribal loved ones in the hereafter.
One of the most common forms of Indian tattoo is the ‘black-dot.’ This subtle and straightforward Indian tattoo is adorned to ward off the evil eye. It also signifies the fact the person adorning the black dot is already taken.
Another form of dot-type Indian tattoo is the ‘Panch’ which signifies the unity of the Five Pandavas of Mahabharata. It has four dots which forms up a square. The fifth dot lies inside of the square.
An India tattoo that signifies wealth and health is the Lotus tattoo accompanied by the nine planets. The lotus represents wealth and the nine planets are believed to protect the bearer of the tattoo against all the negative influences.
The feather tattoo which is one of the old designs amongst the Indian tattoos is very common with the Indians of Native America. These feather Indian tattoos are a hit, especially with the ladies.
The Flower Tattoos: Theses Indian tattoos are ubiquitous amongst the girls and ladies.
Different flowers can be inked on the skin depending upon the choice of the bearer. There are roses, sunflowers, lilies, tulips, etc. they do not have any significant meaning but are only tattooed to decorate the area. They can be colourful or simply black design.
Some people like to get animal tattoos. For instance, some of them get a Tiger or a Lion tattoo on their backs. The Tiger represents the strength and the Lion tattoo stands for bravery.
Many people especially devoted pupils get symbolic tattoos signifying their religion. The most common religious Indian tattoo that you will find is the ‘OM.’ It is believed that the ‘OM’ sign protects the bearer against all bad. Many devotees get their god and goddesses inked onto them too.
By now you are familiar with what are the tattoos, what is the significance behind the Indian tattoos and how they speak themselves. There are many types of Indian tattoos such as
Mostly done by devotees which include Gods and Goddesses faces and also ‘swastika’ or ‘OM.’
The youngsters usually go for these kinds.
People get it done to pay respect and to honour India.
Names of the beloved ones are tattooed on the body,
Fans often get their idol’s or celebrity’s face tattooed on their bodies
These are the mantras or proverbs or shlokas. Check out this link to know more about the various types of Indian tattoos.
There are diverse Indian tattoos that illustrate different meaning. For many hundred years’ Indian tattoos have been around for various reasons. It is not only to decorate your body but it also represents multiple traits of the community or society. There are the traditional Indian tattoo designs, latest Indian tattoos, religious Indian tattoos, Indian designs which are a fusion of both the traditional and modern culture, etc.
Nowadays tattoos are a big hit or can be called a ‘trend’ that has set many youngsters to get one for themselves. Every tattoo design has its own little background story or significance. There are many types and designs of Indian tattoos and many get them done to honour India.
The Indian tattoo art form dates back to ancient times. There are a variety of designs out of which few signify a particular thing whereas few others are only for decorative purposes.