This sort of tattoo is quite a commitment. They involve hours of work in the chair, concentrated effort by the artist and lots of money on the part of the canvas. Sleeves have come and gone in popularity but have gained more popularity in recent years as tattoos have gained traction over the years. Once someone chooses to get a sleeve, they often opt to get another sleeve and often continue by getting chest pieces and their backs done.
But still I wait. Any minute he’s going to laugh and say, “You should see your faces” because this has been a running joke for years, this idea of getting a tattoo – the hard man act, iron muscles, shaved head, Jason Statham, Ross Kemp. He’s a clever boy. Maybe during his school years he thought a tattoo would balance the geeky glory of academic achievement.
Perhaps even then this was a fashion statement, a badge of belonging. Or just what you did after too much rum. Later, the aristocracy flirted with body art. According to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (they know a lot about tattoos), Edward VII had a Jerusalem cross on his arm while both his sons, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York (later George V), had dragon tattoos. Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston’s mum, had a snake on her wrist.
I meet a colleague for lunch. “He knew how much it would hurt me,” I say, tears running down my face. “For years I’ve said, don’t do it. It’s there for ever, even after you’ve changed your mind about who you are and what you want to look like. You’re branded, like meat. It can damage your work prospects. It can turn people against you before you’ve even opened your mouth.”
Because this seemed to be an exclusively female practice in ancient Egypt, mummies found with tattoos were usually dismissed by the (male) excavators who seemed to assume the women were of "dubious status," described in some cases as "dancing girls." The female mummies had nevertheless been buried at Deir el-Bahari (opposite modern Luxor) in an area associated with royal and elite burials, and we know that at least one of the women described as "probably a royal concubine" was actually a high-status priestess named Amunet, as revealed by her funerary inscriptions.
The Japanese word irezumi means "insertion of ink" and can mean tattoos using tebori, the traditional Japanese hand method, a Western-style machine or any method of tattooing using insertion of ink. The most common word used for traditional Japanese tattoo designs is horimono. Japanese may use the word tattoo to mean non-Japanese styles of tattooing.