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

Body piercing, scarification, tattooing - for thousands of years decorative alteration of the human body has been invested with profound cultural and social meaning. This collection of essays, photographs and drawings focuses on the many and diverse ways that human beings have permanently decorated their bodies. The book 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 behaviour. What dominates throughout is the recognition of artistic potency, mysterious or commonplace, that is a part of marking the body.

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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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Written on the Body: The Tattoo in European and American History (Ed. Caplan, Jane; 2000)

Despite the social sciences' growing fascination with tattooing—and the immense popularity of tattoos themselves—the practice has not left much of a historical record. And, until very recently, there was no good context for writing a serious history of tattooing in the West. This collection exposes, for the first time, the richness of the tattoo's European and American history from antiquity to the present day. In the process, it rescues tattoos from their stereotypical and sensationalized association with criminality.

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