5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

The Musée du Quai Branly in Paris is offering a look back through 5,000 years of tattoos. Though a relatively new phenomenon in mainstream Western societies, we learn, tattoos have been an all too common sight in Polynesian societies throughout the ages and has also been found on the mummies of Ancient Egyptian priests and priestesses.

The earliest tattoos that we know of have been observed on the bodies of Neolithic men and women and again in the wood etchings of Iron Age Britons. Then there was a long lull and tattoos didn’t reappear in Western culture until the 19th century when the first recorded body art craze originated in Victorian high society. I don’t know about you, but to me the image of Victorian aristocrats covered in tattoos is a really hard one to imagine.

1. In Oriental, African and Pacific cultures, tattoos have a social, religious and mystical role in their communities.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

2. European sailors in the 1700s got tattoos to mark the lands they had voyaged to: a turtle meant he’d passed the Equator, an anchor signified he had crossed the Atlantic.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

3. Captain Costentenus tattooed by order of Yakoob Beg © Fonds Dutailly, City of Chaumont.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

4. Portrait of an Algerian woman from the Collection of the artist Marc Garanger.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

5. The progression of the ink on skin culture is now displayed chronologically for the first time in a stunning new French book, translated Tattoo, Tattooed.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

6. The progression of the ink on skin culture is now displayed chronologically for the first time.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

7. The exhibition is curated by journalists Anne & Julien of the quarterly French contemporary art magazine Hey!

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

8. Yantra: Muay Thai boxer, bangkok Courtesy Galerie Olivier Waltman © Cedric Arnold.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

9. ‘Volume’ tattooed by the tattoo artist Grime.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

10. Stunning images trace 5,000 years of ink on skin.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

11. The last woman tattooed Kalinga. Tattooing in this vast region in the Philippines declined in the first half of the 20th century © Jake Verzosa.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

12. Inside the Tatoueurs, Tatoues Tattoo exhibition which opened on Tuesday and runs until late autumn in Paris.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

13. In New Zealand, the moko, a curvilinear and spiral tattoo, inspired by the crosiers of ferns, was the specific ornament of chiefs and warriors.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

14. ‘Tatoueurs, Tatou├⌐s’ runs til October 18.

5,000 Years Have Seen Many a Weird Tattoo. A Museum Offers A Crash Course Through History.

Source: The Daily Mail.

Share this historical perspective on tattoos with your friends below — they may learn something new in the process, just as I did with the Victorian high-society tattoo craze.