This art form began over 5000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who choose to entertain a form of body art once reserved for rebels, military men, sailors and circus performers.
In 1771, the British Mariner, Captain Cook, returned from his first voyage to Tahiti and New Zealand noting the widespread use of tattoos in Polynesia amongst tribal groups.
Tattoos began to appear on the bodies of returning sailors and the art then spread to mainstream Europe.
Long before this art was used for " body ornamentation " markings were used for cultural reasons and could be sacred to proclaim the bearers genealogy , a persons connection to the land and his tribe


Methods used

Although the skin is strong, durable and water-proof, it is actually permeable, in other words able to accept penetration.

The main objective is to pierce, puncture or cut the skin in order to insert the ink, with healing to occur thereafter, leaving a permanent mark or design.
African skins with the darker pigment make the visibility of colour difficult. Therefore a different technique exists, whereby the skin is cut and lifted allowing for special sands or ashes to be rubbed in. Ultimately raised scars result, with patterns that often follow local traditions.

Different outcomes desired

Medical reasons
For special information regarding the wearer, like one's blood group, allergic reactions or applications of colour to lessen the whitish appearance of the skin disease Vitiligo, which is caused by lack of colour pigment
In order to identify burn victims or mutilated bodies
In 1941 the Nazis marked the arms of inmates with serial numbers
Religious statements
Such as depictions of the Buddha, Jesus Christ, the Ohm sign in Hinduism etc
Cosmetic reasons
Popular methods include eyeliner, lip outlining, colouring of the lips and applications to enhance the eyebrows.


Military tattoos, cartoonish figures, Japanese style tattoos which cover vast areas of the body, tribal markings, expressions of love and adoration and fine-art text which is now all the rage, citing just a few examples. To quote the well-known actor Johnny Depp, "My body is a journal of the events in my life". Well, one could say this is a lot more dramatic than daily inserts in a diary!

It is said that tattooing is addictive and many do not stop at just the initial one. On the other hand an addiction to chocolate, though somewhat fattening, is most gratifying and lacks the experience of pain!

Finally for those who have gone the route of personalization with tattooing, it is important to remember that regeneration of skin cells continues and that ongoing moisturising is most essential.

MatsiMela's rich shea based body butters are a must! Go on slather... and keep your skin right and ready for a beautiful appearance.