30 March 2010

Etymology

The OED gives the etymology of tattoo as "In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian tatau. In Tahitian, tatu." The word tatau was introduced as a loan word into English, the pronunciation being changed to conform to English phonology as "tattoo".[1] Sailors on later voyages introduced both the word and reintroduced the concept of tattooing to Europe.[2]

Tattoo enthusiasts may refer to tattoos as "Ink", "Tats", "Art", "Pieces", or "Work"; and to the tattooists as "Artists". The latter usage is gaining greater support, with mainstream art galleries holding exhibitions of both conventional and custom tattoo designs. Copyrighted tattoo designs that are mass-produced and sent to tattoo artists are known as flash, a notable instance of industrial design. Flash sheets are prominently displayed in many tattoo parlors for the purpose of providing both inspiration and ready-made tattoo images to customers.

The Japanese word irezumi means "insertion of ink" and can mean tattoos using tebori, the traditional Japanese hand method, a Western-style machine, or for that matter, any method of tattooing using insertion of ink. The most common word used for traditional Japanese tattoo designs is Horimono. Japanese may use the word "tattoo" to mean non-Japanese styles of tattooing.

In Taiwan, facial tattoos of the Atayal tribe are named "Badasun"; they are used to demonstrate that an adult man can protect his homeland, and that an adult woman is qualified to weave cloth and perform housekeeping.[citation needed]

The anthropologist Ling Roth in 1900 described four methods of skin marking and suggested they be differentiated under the names of tatu, moko, cicatrix, and keloid.[3]

Note:

1.^ SAMOA: SAMOAN TATTOOS, Polynesian Cultural Center, http://www.polynesia.com/samoa/samoan-tattoos.html
2.^ tattoo 2. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000
3.^ Roth, H. Ling (1900) On Permanent Artificial Skin Marks: a definition of terms. Anthropological Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Bradford, September 11th 1900

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