In the period of early contact between the Māori and Europeans, the Maori people hunted and decapitated each other for their moko tattoos, which they traded for European items including axes and firearms. Moko tattoos were facial designs worn to indicate lineage, social position, and status within the tribe. The tattoo art was a sacred marker of identity among the Maori and also referred to as a vehicle for storing one's tapu, or spiritual being, in the afterlife.
"In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, tattoos were as much about self-expression as they were about having a unique way to identify a sailor's body should he be lost at sea or impressed by the British navy. The best source for early American tattoos is the protection papers issued following a 1796 congressional act to safeguard American seamen from impressment. These proto-passports catalogued tattoos alongside birthmarks, scars, race, and height. Using simple techniques and tools, tattoo artists in the early republic typically worked on board ships using anything available as pigments, even gunpowder and urine. Men marked their arms and hands with initials of themselves and loved ones, significant dates, symbols of the seafaring life, liberty poles, crucifixes, and other symbols."
As with any tattoo, you’ll need to keep your bandages on for a few hours, then Gualteros says to wash the tattoo with antibacterial soap and water, let it air dry for 10 minutes, and put a thin layer of Aquaphor on it after each shower for the first two days. (Then switch to unscented body lotion.) While the tattoo heals, wash it 2-3 times a day until peeling stops. This usually takes one week. Continue with light layers of unscented lotion.
The half sleeve is generally the preferred style of arm tattoo at the moment. Unlike having a full sleeve it allows you to cover up your tattoos with a t-shirt should you need to for work or any other occasion. It also means that you don’t have to tattoo your elbow which can be a difficult area to work with and often you are restricted to the types of styles that you can get inked there.
The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Samoan word tatau, meaning "to strike". The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of tattoo as "In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian (Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, etc.) tatau. In Marquesan, tatu." Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing had been described in the West as painting, scarring or staining.