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Tattoos 49

Tattoos and body piercings have grown in popularity over the past few decades. Once only reserved for tribes, sailors, or criminals, the meaning of tattoos and the reasons for people getting them have changed dramatically.

Like body piercings, tattoos are created by the constant application of ink just under the subcutaneous layer of the skin with a needle. At first, many tribes, sailors, and other groups used to apply the ink by hand. This was a long, painful process and the marked people were usually of high status. The tattoos were often a sign of respect, rank, and social status. Since the tattoos are permanent, the owners were guaranteed respect for life.

The interest of tattooing for the general public spread throughout the world in fads. A sailor would bring over a fully tattooed indigenous person and interest would spread like wildfire. In London, a sailor brought over a tattooed Polynesian from the South Pacific, and many of the people of London began to acquire their own small tattoos in secret places. However, interest in tattooing waxed and waned due to its long, arduous process of applying every dot of ink by hand.