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Kunsten på Kroppen
The art of tattooing

Photos of tattoos,
and presentation of:
Kai Uwe Faust
Patricia Campos
Marcus Hammer

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The History of Tattooing

The tradition that we know best in Europe, is the so called "Sailor Tattoo".
Motives like: Faith-hope-and-love, hearts, roses, sailor's grave, etc.

The typical idea of a sailor tattoo. A classic painting by Norman Rockwell.

But tattooing in Europe dates much further back. Actually the oldest preserved human, a man who was found on the border between Austria and Italy - the Iceman - was tattooed (you can read a bit more about him under Ancient Times). That is of course no coincidence. People have always been tattooed in Europe.

It was rather normal for the crusaders in the middle ages to get a tattoo as a reminder of the events they participated in.
The Picts in England were probably called just that because they were tattooed.

Tattooing in Europe has always been much more than the sailor tattoo. It is very likely that the Vikings were tattooed. At around year 1100 the Arab Ibn Fadlan described a meeting with some Vikings. He thought them very rude, dirty - and covered with pictures.

From the Middle Ages until the 'sailor tattoo'.:
We have very little concrete knowledge of what people were tattooed with in earlier times from the middle ages until the sailor tattoo of 1900 onwards. But it was probably simple religious signs like crosses etc, because religion played a big part in both social and private lives. I have a very interesting book about religious tattoo motives in Daghestan that shows what it probably was, also in Europe earlier:
Robert Chenciner, Gabib Ismailov & Magomedkhan Magomedkhanov: Tattooed Mountain Women and spoon boxes of Daghestan (Bennet & Bloom Publishers, London 2006 - ISBN: 978-1-80-894881-X)

Here you can see a rather famous Dane and his tattoos - typical of his times.





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