It’s a common question we hear. “What about when you get older, won’t you regret your tattoo?”
Tattoos sit permanently in our skin. They age and grow old with us. So it’s natural that some people might wonder – is it worth getting inked if it won’t look the same a few decades down the line?
Some tattoos do turn into regret tattoos. But often, this has less to do with getting older and more to do with an impulsive decision and a sub-par design or tattoo quality.
But if you’re really wondering about how tattoos age, here are a few tales told through ink that might help you understand this a bit better.
Tribal Tattoos: A Fading Art
It is extremely common to find tattooed elders in tribes. Tattooing has been an important tradition for centuries and in some places, for millennia, but in most tribes, the art of tribal tattooing is slowly fading.
The ink used in early tattooing was made from natural ingredients, and therefore usually fades differently to modern inks.
In many places, women were the ones who would get inked, quite commonly on the face. For some tribes, such as in China and Arunachal Pradesh, this was a way to prevent the women from being abducted and assaulted since it made them ‘undesirable’. In total contrast, the facial tattoos of the women in Bedouin tribes of the Middle East were thought of as sensual and arousing.
The arms and legs were also extremely popular places for women to get tattoos on.
For more on tribal tattooing in the Middle East and Asia, check out our other blogs:
- Polynesia and the Tale of Tribal Tattooing
- Tattoos of Asia: A treasure trove of ancient cultural traditions
- Dragon Tattoos and their Meanings
Tattoos as Brands: A Painful Past
Many parts of the world took to using tattoos as ‘brands’ to mark whoever they deemed to be criminals or outlaws. This included people who were shunned for being different and women who were thought to be promiscuous.
As recently as Nazi Germany the practice of branding continued as a way for the Nazi soldiers to mark and identify the prisoners in camps. Many surviving prisoners still have these tattoos.
For more on the history of tattooing, visit A Story of Ink: Where the art of tattooing began
Tattooed Seniors: Ageing in the New Era
Ageing in the modern era is very different from what it used to be. People no longer treat ageing as a reason to stop living; on the contrary, people now see ageing as a hard-earned reward after years of working and building a future for one’s self and their family!
Many people continue to work for much longer now too. One of the oldest tattoo artists in the world, Whang-od Oggay, continues to tattoo at the age of 102! She is the last Kalinga tattoo artist to hold the title of Mamababatok or ‘tattoo master’ and sports some stunning tattoos of her own.
Want to see what modern tattoos look like as they age with their wearers? Read on!
Full-body tattoos were extremely common across various in olden days – from the Yakuza in Japan with their Irezumi bodysuits to the fully inked women in America that performed as ‘freakshow acts’ in the circus to the sailors who voyaged around the world and returned covered in ink from various different styles.
When a tattoo is well cared for, it barely fades, often retaining the intensity of the black ink and vibrancy of the colours long after the tattoo was first inked.
Not sure how to care for a tattoo? Visit The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide
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- The Jhaiho Tattoo Pain Guide