The long and beautiful history of tattoos

Tattoos are nothing new, in fact, they’re ancient.


Humans have been giving themselves tattoos since the dawn of time. Go back 2000 years to the time of Jesus. Now double that and get to the building of the pyramids… and double that again.


We’re heading back to the last ice age.


Mankind’s timeline of tattoos


10,000BC: We’re back in the Palaeolithic period when tattooing for spiritual purposes is thought to have begun. We’re not certain, but it is believed tattoos were a way to ward off “evil spirits” and sickness.


3300BC: In 1991, two hikers in the Alps came across Ötzi the Iceman, a mummified Neolithic man. This 5,000-year-old murder victim had over 50 tattoos!


1045BC-256BC: Tattoos in China during the Zhou Dynasty were associated with criminals, gangsters, and bandits, with criminals often tattooed to warn others of their deceitful/dangerous past.


Samoa: The traditional method of Samoan tattooing has been carried out for 2000 years.


Maori: Moko tattoos of the past 1000 years differ from Polynesian tattoos in that the lines of the pattern are carved into the flesh rather than pricked into the skin.


1770s: Many of the global sailors exploring the planet along with the likes of Captain Cook, bring home tattoos from the pacific. This starts the long tradition and association of sailors and tattoos.


1876: Thomas Edison designs and patent an “electric pen”. In 1891 Samuel O’Reilly modifies the design to inject ink under the skin and creates the first tattoo gun.


1898: An estimated one in five members of the British gentry was tattooed.


2010: The Ministry of Health releases guidelines on traditional tattooing to protect against infections, hepatitis, aand HIV.


2017: One in five Australians have a tattoo.