Body art: a history
Tattoos are in vogue at the moment, but that wasn't always the case. They have been associated with groups of people, symbolism, and status. Monica Desai describes the significance of body art over the centuries…
They're everywhere. Beckham has Posh's name in Hindi (although it is spelt wrongly), Sporty Spice has a Chinese symbol, and Pamela Anderson has barbed wire. Tattooing has been around for centuries, but only recently has it transformed from being a biker or “I'm hard” symbol to being the height of Western fashion.
The increase in popularity is not necessarily matched, however, by an emergence of safe tattoo parlours, and tattooing is contributing to an increase in cases of hepatitis C. Recently, Pamela Anderson claims she contracted hepatitis C while sharing a tattoo needle with her ex-husband, Tommy Lee.
So where does tattooing have its origins? Why do people go through the pain of having needles stuck in them for a permanent scar? And how can we encourage the setting up of safe tattoo parlours to reduce the risk of transmission of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C?