Tattoos in America before America

Good Morning friends of Speakeasy Tattoo Los Angeles!

Marléna here to update you on the latest Speakeasy Tattoo related news. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, so all the artists made sure the shop looked sparkly and clean before Clyde invited his wolf pack over for holiday dinner. Today, I’m heading over to the shop to clean Clyde’s Thanksgiving dinner wreckage-hopefully its not too bad! Speaking of Thanksgiving in all seriousness, I wanted to use this blog post to learn a little bit about an older American tattoo history: The history of indigenous tattooing in America pre colonization.

Before there were English settlers colonizing America, there were thousands of indigenous tribes that had inhabited the land for thousands of years prior. Before there were American tattoo artists, there were indigenous people, who used tattoo as a sacred and spiritual everyday ritual. While the aesthetic and ritualistic details varied from tribe to tribe, and across regions, the majority of indigenous people tattooed themselves. Indigenous people tattooed themselves with iconography relevant to their specific experiences. Additionally, warriors would often carve or otherwise display the same images from their tattoos onto their weapons.

The Native Americans generally used sharpened naturally occurring objects as needles, such as sticks, bones, or hand crafted needles. The would prick or scratch ash or crushed minerals into the skin to create the tattoo. Each tribe had specific beliefs and iconographic systems within their tattoo practices. A common belief among many tribes, was that someone without tattoos would not be let into the afterlife. Many tribes saw tattoos as a marker of feminine beauty, while others limited the amount of tattoos women could have. Often, indigenous women’s tattoos indicated their social status, and wether they were eligible to be married or have children.

Hopefully this post sparked you interest in the history of indigenous tattooing in the U.S, I encourage you to learn more about this fascinating history!

That’s all for now!

-Marlena

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