A Brief Unveiling of the Meaning and History of Sacred Tattooing
Tattoos have existed for thousands of years as a way of marking the human body for different purposes and with different meanings. Almost all ancient cultures that have passed through the earth have created and used tattoos and body art as part of their symbolic way of life. The history of tattoos dates back more than 5,000 years and is as diverse as the people who have used them.
Mehndi art, a temporary art applied to the body with henna, also dates back some 5,000 years. Mehndi is still used in India in ritual and religious ceremonies, but the first documented civilizations to use henna are the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Sumerians. Many ancient cultures have used both tattoos and Mehndi for spiritual purposes.
Permanent tattoo designs, sometimes very simple, sometimes extremely elaborate, but always with deep personal meaning, have served as amulets, status symbols, signs of religious beliefs, declarations of love, ornaments, and sometimes even as forms of punishment. There is a cultural significance to tattoos that is timeless.
In the past, the first known tattoos were Egyptian for a long time, around 2,000 BC. Many mummies, which seemed to be exclusively female, showed signs of tattooed patterns on their bodies, especially on their thighs. However, the discovery in 1991 of the approximately 5,200-year-old iceman, who came from the Italian-Austrian border area and had tattoos on various parts of his body, pushed back the time axis. His tattoos were examined and found to correspond to areas of stress-related degeneration, suggesting that they may have been applied to relieve joint pain and were therefore therapeutic in nature.
Some believe that the Egyptian women who practiced tattooing were of a dubious nature and that the tattoos were a sign of prostitution, but it has now been shown that the female mummies were found in royal and elite cemeteries and that they were initially considered to be a royal concubine and it is now known that at least one of them was a high-ranking priestess. So there is no indication that the tattoo was only for “dancers”, as they were called. Some believe that the tattoos were no signs of a prostitute or to protect against sexually transmitted diseases, but that they actually functioned therapeutically as permanent forms of amulets to support pregnancy and birth, as suggested by their patterns and placements and the addition of the god Bes, who was, among other things, the protector of women in labor. This helps explain why Egyptian tattooing was restricted as an exclusively female custom. Egyptian tattoos used to be a dark or black pigment. Lighter colors, it seems, were common in other ancient cultures.
The Inuit, the Nubians, the Pazyryk Scythians, the ancient British, the Greeks, the Romans, the pre-Columbian cultures of Peru and Chile, the Native Americans, the ancient Chinese and Japanese, and the Polynesians, to name a few, are among the ancient cultures that practiced the art of tattooing for various reasons. These included reasons similar to those of Egyptian women, as a sign of nobility and high status (not having them was a declaration of low birth rate, interesting, wasn’t it?), as a sign of belonging to a religious sect or to an owner if the latter was a slave or to mark a criminal as a punishment, it symbolized devotion to a protective deity, which Roman soldiers accepted until Christianity spread in the belief that tattoos “deform the created in the image of God”. Tattoos were used on all parts of the body, including the face, all with different meanings and implications.
The Polynesians of Tahiti give us today’s word “tattoo” from their island term, “tatatau” or “tattau”, which means “to strike” or “to beat”. After James Cook’s expedition, it became fashionable among Europeans to get tattoos, especially among men in risky professions. In this case, the tattoos carried an amulet as a symbol of protection.
Even today, tattoos are still common in all cultures around the world, including the Japanese, Africans, and New Zealand Maori, to name but a few, and of course in the Western world. All of these symbols and considerations have their origin in the similarities with ancient cultures of the past, regardless of whether we are aware that we know what we are doing it for and why or not. Some may mean new insights and self-expression, but the foundations behind them have been handed down for thousands of years, and it is no coincidence that many of us have old symbols of ancient civilizations and cultures tattooed. Cross-cultural influences have continued to play an important role in the way we express and live our lives, connecting and merging things. It is interesting to note that everything is a circular or spiral effect that connects us all in a timeless experience.
Feet Mehndi Design | Leg henna | Arabic Feets | DIY Henna 2017 – Naush Artistica
How are you guys doing, hope all my viewers are doing well, I have made this feet pattern for beginner’s it is very easy mehndi design and everyone can try this pattern on Eid 2017.
The art is all lines, flowers, motifs, peacocks, and so on. Putting them all together is what makes unique mehndi designs.
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