Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Tattoos have always fascinated and inspired me throughout my life. The whole idea of drawing on to the skin is quite a beautiful art form. In the last decade or so, tattoos have been seen everywhere and are a definite common place in todays society. I see younger and younger kids getting "inked" as this custom that started so long ago, still has that adage of a certain rite of passage. The obsession is not just limited to the obvious street cultures, or even suburbia, but to that of centuries old traditions of many tribal ancestries. Not limited just to the body, the tattoo has been seen on the face, perhaps the most taboo place of all.
        As with many cultures, the New Zealand tribe of the Maori are known for their tattooing skills. Maori are especially known for their "Moko" or a full face tattoo. Their full face tattoos aren't just for fun, but illustrate their whole life story. Tattoos were specific to individuals, family, clans and tribes. Maori tattoos follow the contours of the face, and are meant to enhance the natural contours and expressions of an individual's face. 
      In the hardcore Salvadorian gang culture of Mara Salvatrucha or MS13, members often cover themselves in tattoos. Common markings include “MS”, “Salvadorian Pride” the “Devil Horns” the name of their clique and sometimes the number “13″. According to National Geographic magazine and its research, MS13 is the fastest and most dangerous gang in the world, with an estimated 30,000 plus members in the U.S alone. Not only limited to these communities, subcultures like the Aryan Brotherhood, a gang prevalent on the streets and in maxium security prisons have also started to adopt this radical look. 
    In closing, whether fad, tradition, or a rite of passage, tattoos are a testament of ones own trials and tribulations and can only be justified by their unique and sometimes complex owners...

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