Where Did Tattoos Originally Come From?

Iris | 03 - 20 - 2020
Where Did Tattoos Originally Come From

Tattoos are believed to have originated in a  Polynesian group of Islands. The word tattoo is derived from the Samoan word Tatau. But tattooing has a long history and it’s been part of many cultures all over the world.

Who Invented the Tattoo?

Tattoos were found in mummified bodies back in 3700 BC. It is believed that tattooing spread to Crete, Greece, and Arabia due to Egypt’s international trading. Ancient China, Northern Europe, and Celtic regions have a history of tattooing. It was considered as an art form and it was practiced for more than a thousand years.

Where Was the First Tattoo Found?

Tattoos were an age-old tradition and were found during archeological expeditions. Mummified bodies found in China and Egypt had tattoo marks on the skin. In 1991 the world’s first mummified body with tattoos was found in Otztal Alps and was nick-named Otzi, the Iceman. The 61 tattoos on the body were dots and lines.

1. Who Was the First Professional Tattooist of the United States?
  • A. Lyle Tuttle
  • B. Cliff f Raven
  • C. Martin Hildebrandt
  • D. Don Nolan

Tattoo Culture around the World

In Japan, during the 1600s the government forcefully tattooed the criminals. But after 200 years people started tattooing against the act of branding criminals. Japanese get their tattoo inspiration from koi fish, dragon, phoenix, and snake.

Maori, an indigenous people from New Zealand had tattooing as a part of their culture. Since they thought that the head is the most sacred part of the body they had all their tattoos on their face. Warriors had more tattoos on the body.


Egyptian tattoos were mostly Gods and about life. Different Egyptian tribes used to tattoo designs to show their tribe identity. The tattoos were used as a projection of status symbols.


Cast oriented people and murderers from North East India had tattoos to show off their identity and to mark the number of murders they have committed. In some parts of India Tattooing was done for superstitious beliefs such as to ward off evil spirits. In other regions of India tattooing was done for cast discrimination.


China has a similar history as Japan in marking criminals with tattoos. In some parts of China, slaves were tattooed to mark ownership.

Tattoo History Facts

  1. Women are more interested in tattoos than men all around the world.
  2. The world’s oldest tattoo ink was made with pine bark, vinegar, insect eggs, and copper.
  3. The only person in the world who is 99.9% covered with tattoos is Gregory Paul McLaren. He has tattoos in inner eyelids, mouth, and ears.
  4. Tattooing is illegal in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
  5. In soviet Russia, some prisoners get tattoos of Lenin and Stalin just to not get shot at if they are sentenced to death as it is illegal to shoot at images of national leaders.

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