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Tattoos: Between the Tribal and the Universal

an image reflecting the relationship between the individual and himself

and between himself and society. The body hence functions as a medium

through which we communicate with the other, fashion social and private

identities, and hence eventually also formulate the very meaning of our

existence in the world.

The language of tattoos with its symbols is, then, akin to a social



Contemporary tattoo culture produces a call for liberating,

both for the individual and the group, who desire to define themselves

in a unique fashion, take control of their own destiny, and rise above

oppression. In this context, the tattoo is a mark of particularity and hence

an act of liberation.

The Tattoo Renaissance

Today, tattoo culture is present in almost every corner of the world. Since

the 1960s, the practice and meaning of tattooing have undergone immense

changes both in the United States and in Europe, so much so that some

consider this the Age of the Tattoo Renaissance.


These changes took place

as a result of the amalgamation of artistic influences with various cultures

and sub-cultures, such as the hippie counterculture, contemporary art,

prison culture, and non-Western cultures. From the mid-1990s, new

tattooing styles have emerged while ancient native tattooing practices,

conducted in the traditional and new methods, have been revived.


Raz states that the tattooing is a form of post-modern “art design”,

since it undermines the separation between art and design and makes it

possible for tattoo artists to draw inspiration from the history of art.


Adroit tattoo artists extrapolate artistic images from distinct fields of

art, such as painting, engraving, ceramics, textile and even architecture,

to fashion intricate and original designs as an homage to specific cultures.

Tattoo culture has also been influenced by the humanities and the sciences

(for instance, bio mechanics – a genre combining biology with robotics and

science fiction) and the language of graphic and digital design. One of the

leading tattooing genres today is the sacred geometry tattoos,


which was