Think tats are a new invention?  Over the centuries many people groups have chosen to adorn their body for decorative, religious, or social purposes. 

Ancient peoples often adorned their bodies with ritualistic designs to identify themselves, perform some sacred function, or as artistic adornment. 

Native American Tribes

"When he first saw the Wichita of the plains in the early 1860’s, the older women were tattooed with pink and blue zigzag lines and circles as was their ancient custom." The author also saw their language sounded nothing like that of dialects encounter  in the east but did seem similar to a language spoken by a people in Oregon.---History of Wichita and Sedgwick County, Kansas: Past and Present (pg. 598) by Orsemus Hills Bentley.  Prisoners/slaves were tattooed, such Olive Oatman, they served to identify members of specific tribal groups, and served as rites of passage.

People of the Pacific
Maori both painted and incised designs to achive a multi-dimensional result on the face and legs. The men of Samoa would tattoo their legs, hips and groin area to give the impression of cloths yet were naked. 

Ancient Chrisitianity advocated for the use of religious tattoos but the rejection of such symbols that reflected pagan or heathen superstititions.

Jewish people usually held to Old Testament restrictions of cutting or marking the flesh, in a manner similar to that required by worshippers of Baal.  By modern times most continued this prohibition, a fact that adds more insult to the Holocaust victims being tattooed in WW2. 

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