Tattoos are said to be addicting. Despite the pain, those who get their first bit of body art are often hungry for more. And as tattoos become an increasingly accepted part of society, these ink enthusiasts are filling half or even the whole of their arms with sprawling designs. Called half sleeve and full sleeve tattoos, respectively, these impressive pieces are the result of many hours of hard work for a tattooist and a lesson in patience and perseverance for a client.
The legacy of Polynesian tattoo began over 2000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear them. Once widespread in Polynesian societies across the Pacific Ocean, the arrival of western missionaries in the 19th century forced this unique art form into decline. Despite the encroachment of Christian religious beliefs that vilified tattooing as unholy, many Polynesian tattoo artists maintained their vital link to their culture's history by preserving their unique craft for generations.
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.
According to George Orwell, coal miners could develop characteristic tattoos owing to coal dust getting into wounds. This can also occur with substances like gunpowder. Similarly, a traumatic tattoo occurs when a substance such as asphalt is rubbed into a wound as the result of some kind of accident or trauma. These are particularly difficult to remove as they tend to be spread across several layers of skin, and scarring or permanent discoloration is almost unavoidable depending on the location. An amalgam tattoo is when amalgam particles are implanted in to the soft tissues of the mouth, usually the gums, during dental filling placement or removal. Another example of such accidental tattoos is the result of a deliberate or accidental stabbing with a pencil or pen, leaving graphite or ink beneath the skin.