TATTOO (v) To mark Skin with indelible patterns by puncturing it and inserting a dye to make a pattern in this way – (n) a tattooed pattern The body-marking techniques of tattooing, have been used in a vast range of cultures, both ancient and contemporary, for decoration and for communicative purposes. The markings may give information about group membership, rank, and status. Body painting may also indicate the particular social role one is playing at a given time and express social and religious values. Tattooing, the introduction of pigment through punctures in the skin to create patterns, was practiced in ancient Egypt. Some of the most elaborate tattoos have been found among the cultures of Oceania–for example, the MAORI of New Zealand tattoo complex spiral designs on the face and buttocks. Traditionally, fine tattoos have been to them a sign of good breeding. The word tattoo is derived from a Tahitian term. Sailors showed an early interest in the tattoos of the Pacific, and the practice of tattooing has persisted among seamen. Tattooing techniques vary widely–for example, the Eskimo use bone needles to draw soot-covered thread through the skin, and the Japanese use fine metal needles and multicolored pigments. Scarring, or cicatrization, is most common in the cultures of Africa, Australia, and Melanesia. In the initiation rites of boys among the Nuer of the Sudan, six cuts are made across the forehead and remain for life as scars. Finer tattoolike patterns are chiseled onto the faces of young female initiates of the Kaoka-speakers of the Solomon Islands. In each case the practice serves to mark a new stage of life. In some African and Australian societies raised weals, or keloids, are created by rubbing irritants into a wound. Body painting is most commonly practiced for participation in ceremonies, feasting, and dancing. Among the people of Mount Hagen, New Guinea, it is used as part of a complex of personal decoration that may express the prestige and unity of a clan, individual health and wealth, and also may reflect links with the ancestors. Painting for war is also widespread; in this case body-marking symbolizes radical change in the pattern of social relations. Christian Clerk Bibliography: Field, Henry, Body-Marking in Southwestern Asia (1958); Faris, James C., Nuba Personal Art (1972); Hambly, Wilfred D., The History of Tattooing and Its Significance (1925; repr. 1975); Strathern, Andrew and Marilyn, Self Decoration in Mount Hagen (1971). He will tattoo you What most people see as skin, Pete MacLay sees as canvas. “I look at the entire body as a canvas.” MacLay said. “Somebody can come up to me two weeks after I have worked on them and I won’t recognize face. I don’t look at a person’s face. I see their whole body. I’m very focused that way.” MacLay is a tattoo artist. Three years ago, he chose to devote himself to the craft of turning flesh into a work of art. The shop he opened last month in North Port, Body Art By Pete, is covered with examples of hundreds of designs; tigers, roses, hooded figures, busty women, sharks, eagles, Chinese letters, lightning bolts. Anything you can dream, fathom or invent from your imagination, MacLay can sculpt into a tattoo. “I had tattoos myself and I loved them before I ever started doing them for other people,” MacLay said. “I had the artistic ability and a steady hand and I had what they call the eye for all the work. Distinguishing yourself in the tattoo business isn’t easy. Word gets around quickly whether an artist is good or bad. “People who choose a permanent design for their flesh usually are not shy about showing it off. A lousy tattoo is shown as an example of what can go wrong. But a good tattoo becomes a living, breathing advertisement for the artist.