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Tribal Tattoo History page 1

Tribal Tattoo History & Symbolism

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Maori Facial Tattoo Design

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It all started with the Sun...the Sun God...every culture.

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In recent years Tribal Tattoos have enjoyed a revival.We specialize in Historical and modern Tribal Tattoos of all styles.

Since the dawn of humanity , Tattoos have been made onto both sexes to decorate, enhance, and modify the skin we inherit at birth. Some Tattoos are self-motivated expressions of personal freedom and uniqueness. Most, however, have to do with traditions that mark a person as a member or nonmember of the local group, or express religious, magical, or spiritual beliefs and personal convictions. We all have a undeniable need to belong, this is the most basic Tribal need, and the reason for the Tribal Tattoos renewed power. Tribal Tattoos have a simple appeal : we like the way they look on us, It reinforces a positive feeling about ourselves and connects us some how to an element of mystery and ancient activity.

The practice of skin ornamentation is certainly as widespread and as ancient as Man himself. It may well have been one of his first conscious acts involving tools which separated him from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is thought by some that ancient mans first primordial feeling when he found himself without great amounts of body hair was to take a blackened sharp stick from the fire and decorate ( Tattoo ) his body, in this way he became camouflaged or protected as the animals were.


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As the origins of art are rooted in early cave paintings, so positive proof of Tattooing is obtained from recent discoveries of ancient frozen mummified remains of early man that are covered in Tattoos. Oldest Tattooed body known to date is that of a Bronze Age man who died over 5000 years ago. He was found frozen intact in an Italian glazier. Researchers where startled at close examination he was found to have both arms, legs and torso covered with elaborate Tattoos representing mythical creatures. 15000 BC ice age rock carvings show Tattooed figures, 4200 BC  Egyptian mummies wear Tattoos. Archeologically validated works of art showing Tattoos started to appear about 30000 years ago. One must not forget that, with the exemption of mummies, all art on the Human body disappears into the fire or ashes along with its bearer.

Western culture now has a widespread resurgence and acceptance of the Tribal practice of Tattooing. More and more research on Tribal people, their arts, Tattoos, and lifestyles, and more and more available images of Tattooed people have led to western peoples interest in Tribal Tattoos. Pretechnological designs (i.e.,Black Tribal) give the wearer a link to the origins of all present human society, a past Tribal culture wherein the Tattoo had an inner meaning to the wearer , not just a modern symbol of our present culture such as a Mickey Mouse Tattoo.

The emergence and / or renaissance of the ancient Tribal Art of Tattooing is by no means restricted to the present generation of young men and women in western countries. After having been outlawed and suppressed for a century or two , these ancient and traditional arts are also being revived by young native peoples of all tribes.


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Tattooing is a widely practiced method of body decoration in which markings such as signs , symbols , and letters are applied to the body by puncturing the skin’s outer layer and inserting color into it. Whether ancient or modern techniques are used, the skin is punctured with a sharp instrument, now usually an electric moved needle. In earlier times and other cultures , Tattooing required one or more needles fixed to a stick and driven into the skin by slight tapping, the very process that has led to the term Tattoo via the early Polynesian sound -equivalent of the tapping action: Tau Tau.

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We can help you further at your visit to our Tattoo Shop with more in-depth explanations and advice regarding Tribal Tattoo symbolism and how a custom design may look on your skin. The following are some of the Tribal style Tattoos that are available: Native Indian, North American Indian, Pacific Northwest American Indian, Indigenous, African, Egyptian, Mayan, Aztec, Hawaiian, Samoan, Maori, South Pacific, Micronesian, Polynesian, Melanesian, New Zealand, Eskimo, Inuit, Wiccan, Pagan, Gothic, Tahitian, Borneo, Oceanic, Oriental, Asian, Japanese, Chinese, Buddhist, Tibetan, India, Hindu, Deities, Aboriginal, Fraternal, Military, Heraldic, Ritual, Amulets, Talisman, Sacred, Mythological, Magical, Alchemy, Mythic, Folk Art, Astrology, Astronomy, Neo- Tribal, Contemporary Tribal, Abstract Tribal, Geometric Tribal, Traditional Tribal, and our own huge collection of custom one of a kind American Stylized Tribal.

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Skin&Ink Tattoo magazine article about Captain Bret's Celtic Tattoos

My article and picture in Harley Davidson 100 year Anniversary Book


Most native peoples of the Americas practiced tattooing to some extent. It served a variety of purposes depending on location, gender, and the state of intertribal relations.

A variety of methods were used to create tattoos. Among the Sioux, for example, women would draw a circle or line on a person's skin with clay, punch the design with an awl, and then rub blue clay over it. By the time the clay was dry it had penetrated beneath the awl holes. Among California natives an older woman would scratch the skin of a subject and rub charcoal dust or plant juice into the scratches for color. Following contact with Europeans, the Ojibwas drew on the skin with a stick dipped in gunpowder dissolved in water. The figure was then pricked with needles dipped in vermillion and the skin was seared with punkwood to prevent festering. The area would then be treated with an antiseptic herbal wash. These processes often took a number of days.

Tattoos held different meanings for different tribes. In the Northwest, from California to Washington, tattoos identified a woman's village. In Alaska certain tattoos indicated that a man had killed an enemy in battle, and among the Yokuts of California tattoos marked the location of a person's supernatural power. As is the case in other parts of the world, Native American tattooing reflected (and reflects) a variety of concerns and attitudes related to the human body.

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Mystic River Tattoo

Sean Penn Back Tattoo

Tattoo that Captain Bret Designed that was used in Clint Eastwood's movie"MYSTIC RIVER" staring Sean Penn as the character "Jimmy Markum" a South Boston Irish mobster with this celtic styled cross Tattooed on his back

Skin&Ink Tattoo magazine article about Captain Bret's Celtic Tattoos


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We do ALL Tattoo styles, NOT JUST Tribal & Celtic


Click for Home Index Page


Celtic Tattoo Photos           Tribal Tattoo Photos

Miscellaneous Tattoo Photographs


The Book of Kells   (Pagan Celt   Viking  &  Pict  Influence  on  Art)

Celtic   Tattoo   History   Page  #1      Page  #2      Page  #3

Tribal Tattoo History  Page #1      Page #2      Page #3

Celtic Mythology  Page #1     Page #2     Page #3

Tree of Life      Designs   and   History


A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community

Body  Parts  (Or  Modern  Mutations)

Current   Tattoo   Trends

How Tattoos Work


Directions     Hours     Discount     Coupon     F.A.Q.s

Pictures of Tattoo Shop & All our Tattoo Designs

Tattoo Care Instructions

Design Service

These designs, pictures, Photographs, JPG,s,Gifs, files, logos, Tattoos, images, content are used exclusively by Captain Bret's Tattoo Shop Inc. and represents our company, they are our intellectual property 1981 All rights reserved.  All Tattoos By  Artist Captain Bret A. Lohnes 1981

NO commercial or non-commercial reproductions allowed or tolerated without valid license from Captain Bret's Tattoo Shop Inc.

All designs and images/content/compilation herein are Copyright 1981.  Trade Mark-Service Mark protections exist. Said Copyright, Copyrights, Service Marks, Trade Marks may be filed, owned, by all, some, or individually by the following,  Bret A. Lohnes, Captain Bret's Tattoo Shop Inc. and
copyright 1981