Tattoo Boulevard


Since man first stepped out of the ocean, or Adam received his rib (depending on your beliefs), people have searched for a universal way to express their property, might, wisdom and other attributes that they or those around them might consider remarkable. The art of tattooing has been practiced for thousands of years, but these days, some still consider this ancient icon of conservatism and of god-fearing people to be highly controversial, even taboo. The Integration of pain & expression began striking fear in the heart of the public as tattooing progressed from ancient times to become a symbol of the negative and the rebellious, but what many fail to realize, is that it is in fact an art, the art of the people- of all peoples. Countless, forgotten civilizations used to tattoo their warriors, wives, elders and even human sacrifices, but in modern times, only a handful of these once thriving cultures have kept these ancient, symbolic traditions alive.

In Borneo, the third largest island in the world, the rich, indigenous tradition of tattooing is still very much alive, and even attracts westerners who wish to admire and purchase this art.  The main source of the Borneo tattoos is the native Kayan tribe, who passed on their legacy to the tribes of Kenyah, Iban and other minor tribes countless years ago. Tribe members tattooed themselves by carving patterns into blocks of wood, and then transferred it onto their skin for various spiritual & traditional purposes. This process is considered to be incredibly painful, but yet, these tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last few years, primarily due to the tattoos’ unique, thick & rich look. People consider them to be excellent testimonies of their mental & physical strength (and often of their good fortune, enthusiasm, competitiveness etc).

Although Borneo indigenous tattoos have always meant to demonstrate one’s characterizations & history proudly, the same can be said for Japanese tattoos. In the Japanese tradition, however, a person cannot demonstrate a desire to become popular, commonly known or admired. They must be humble. Nonetheless, tattoo tradition in Japan is thought to go back to at least 8,000 BC – as Ainu people (the indigenous people of Japan) are known to have used tattoos for various social & even decorative purposes.

Japanese tattoos are also referred to as “Irezumi”. This phrase’s literally translated means “the insertion of ink under the skin, leaving a permanent mark or a tattoo.”  The traditional tattooing process involved hot spikes and natural ink, but that method is long gone.  Nowadays, traditional Japanese tattoos can be found in any color and shape, as they’re imprinted using the latest tattooing technology which are also available in the western world. Most specialized tattoo studios however are still located in Japan (these tattoos can cost up to $30,000, and take up to 5 years to complete).

In the last 50 years, the demand for exotic, ancient tattoos has risen dramatically all across North America and Europe. As the western world became more and more liberal, and more welcoming to the different and the strange, tattooing took a giant leap, as a variety of styles such as Gothic, Celtic, Haida, Kanjis, and Samoan started to reappear, in addition to the more modern & edgy tattoo styles. Practically everything one can imagine and imprint began to appear on people’s skin.

Unlike body piercing, tattoos are not meant to symbolize imprisoning, rebalance or anything negative, and though many people do abuse the meaning of tattoos, tattooing is an art of decoration- a genuine art that is both beautiful and creative. It’s a process that requires a certain amount of mental investment and an occasional panting, but most tattoo enthusiasts believe it’s all worth it. Even though there are many other popular skin decorations, such as body painting, body piercing and even active manipulation of the skin’s natural layout & texture (as practiced in African tribes), tattoos will never change on a basic level. They will always be here to showcase genuine feelings and thoughts from genuine people from all walks of life- people who’ve decided to become whole with themselves and with their bodies by sacrificing some time and comfort to imprint their desires on their skin and share them with the world.

Adi Sela

Posted in Uncategorized by tattoo on May 31st, 2010 at 2:02 am.


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2 Replies

  1. Sleeves created this design to reflect the past of geisha tattooing. Tattoos Body Art Wholesale

  2. tattoo Jun 7th 2010

    It’s a great design,very striking.