What are Tattoos?

Updated at: Aug 28, 2013
What are Tattoos?

A tattoo is a type of body-art, made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Know how it is done and its history.

Bhadra Kamalasanan
Fashion & BeautyWritten by: Bhadra KamalasananPublished at: May 02, 2011

Whether they are on our arms, legs, ankles or neck, they look beautiful and more than what they are, we do not really know much about tattoos. Do we?

Tattoo on arm

To see an artist piercing his tattoo machine into our skin holding the muscles tightly is a fiery sight that disturbs our nerves, but worth all the pain and money. A tattoo is a marking on the skin that can be either permanent or temporary.

[Read: Health Risks of Tattoos]

Temporary tattoos can be made with henna, a natural dye or it can be a piece of paper with transferable ink which is pressed to the skin leaving a pattern. These tattoos wear off within a week or so. Permanent tattoos are made by inserting ink into layers of the skin with the help of tattoo needles. Tattoos are a rage among both young and old including celebrities.

History of Tattoo

The word tattoo goes back to Tahitian word tattau, which implies “to mark”. It was first mentioned in James Cook’s records that date back to his 1769 expedition to South Pacific. Few scientists, however, believe that the earliest evidence of a tattoo that is known goes back to the marking that were found on the skin of Iceman that dates back to as old as 3300 B.C.

Some of the tattoos that are more widely recognised include those that were found in the Nubian and Egyptian mummies that dated back to about 2000 B.C. Some of the classic authors use the term tattoos with Greeks, Gauls, ancient Germans, ancient Britons and Thracians.

Europeans later rediscovered tattooing once again when they came in contact with American Indians and Polynesians. Since tattoos were exotic in European as well as societies of the U.S., Indians and Polynesians who were tattooed used to be amazed at crowds present at fairs as well as circuses during the 18th and 19th century.

A major reason why tattooing was practiced was because it had different meanings to different cultures and decoration was most commonly the motive behind most people getting the tattoo; the latter holds true for people even in the current century.

[Read: Different Types of Tattoos]

How it is Done

To make a design on the skin, the tattoo artist uses a hand-held machine that resembles a sewing machine. The machine has multiple or single space for needles to be inserted into the top layer of the skin to make the design. The procedure is done without the use of anaethetics and is therefore, said to be a painful experience.

Depending on the size of the tattoo, it can last for several minutes to even hours. You may expect to expect slight bleeding and acute pain when the tattoo is being inked and a few hours after the procedure.

What happens after the Skin is Tattoed?

Once the part of your skin has been tattooed, there is a chance that you will experience slight swelling and burning sensation because a tattoo basically is a wound on the skin caused by breaking of the skin. You are highly likely to suffer from infection or other skin problems if you do not take adequate care of the wound as if it is allowed to be let open viruses can easily find their way into the wound and your blood.

Read more articles on Body Art & Tattoo.


All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however Onlymyhealth.com does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK