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.

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Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoos and Scarification (Lars Krutak; 2012)

Spiritual Skin: MAGICAL TATTOOS AND SCARIFICATION. Wisdom. Healing. Shamanic Power. Protection is a photographic masterwork in two parts exploring the secret world of magical tattooing and scarification across the tribal world. Based on one decade of tattoo anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak’s fieldwork among animistic and shamanic societies of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Melanesia, Spiritual Skin: MAGICAL TATTOOS AND SCARIFICATION journeys into highly sacred territory to reveal how people utilize ritual body modification to enhance their access to the supernatural.

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Tattoo: Bodies, Art, and Exchange in the Pacific and the West - History of Tatooing (Eds. Thomas, Nicholas Cole, Anna Douglas, Bronwen; 2005)

The history of tattooing is shrouded in controversy. Citing the Polynesian derivation of the word “tattoo,” many scholars and tattoo enthusiasts have believed that the modern practice of tattooing originated in the Pacific, and specifically in the contacts between Captain Cook’s seamen and the Tahitians. Tattoo demonstrates that while the history of tattooing is far more complex than this, Pacific body arts have provided powerful stimuli to the West intermittently from the eighteenth century to the present day. The essays collected here document the extraordinary, intertwined histories of processes of cultural exchange and Pacific tattoo practices. Art historians, anthropologists, and scholars of Oceania provide a transcultural history of tattooing in and beyond the Pacific.

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