The history of tattooing and its significance (Wilfrid Dyson Hambly; 1925)


This 1925 survey constitutes one of the most complete histories of world tattoo practices. It was written at the end of a significant era in anthropological fieldwork, when the efforts of missionaries and the impact of European imperialism had suppressed all but the final vestiges of indigenous native tattoo traditions. Subsequent opportunities for original fieldwork related to tattooing were rare, making this book a valuable link to vanishing cultures.

In addition to 80 photographs and illustrations many of them new to this edition this fascinating study discusses the significance of tattoos and other forms of body marking in terms of religious beliefs and social purposes. Author Wilfrid Dyson Hambly offers a wealth of examples from fieldwork conducted around the world. Hambly discusses the religious and magical uses of tattooing, which range from the prevention of pain, protection against witchcraft, and attraction of good luck to the preservation of youth and insurance of the survival of the soul after death.


The Rites of Passage (Van Gennep, 1969)

Marks of Civilization: Artistic Transformations of the Human Body (Arnold Rubin; 1988)


Body piercing, scarification, tattooingfor thousands of years decorative alteration of the human body has been invested with profound cultural and social meaning. This remarkable collection of essays, photographs, and drawings focuses on the many and diverse ways that human beings have permanently decorated their bodies. Marks of Civilization grew out of a symposium entitled "Art of the Body" held at the University of California, Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Contributors encompass the fields of anthropology, sociology, art history, archaeology, and folklore. The geographical and historical perspectives are from Europe and Euro- America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Pacific Basin (Asia, Oceania, and Native America). The book's text and photographs acknowledge body art as a meaningful part of human behavior. What dominates throughout is the recognition of artistic potency, mysterious or commonplace, that is a part of marking the body.