IntroductionA study into the sociological characteristics and motivations behind body art- to understand the addictions/mo...
Would your opinion of a person change purely based on the fact that they have tattoos or don’t dress smartlyon a regular b...
their body or are covered from head to toe. These explanations or reasons for being addicted to tattoos can beeither physi...
passing of a loved one through artwork. It is not uncommon for someone to has a tattoo that has a specificmeaning behind i...
This inclination to pay homage to one’s culturally history, heritage or ancestry could feed an already addictiveinclinatio...
themselves it is meant to bring about fear and show a documentation of gang life and it’s culture.This can be shown in man...
These are two twins; Bless and Kojak. They are 43 years old and both have spent 19 years in prison forstabbing a man. Bles...
This well over 6ft tall man called Omar is covered in small tattoos. Jailed for 15 years because he stabbed aman who had s...
Mexican Gang CultureMexican gangs are one of the large groups of gangs that have tattoos that are related to the certain g...
are usually one colour. However tattoos given to the Russian mafia are mostly situated on the torso, thereforebeing covere...
Each of these methods of creating body art changes the wearer in an object that is shaped and created bycolour, textures, ...
Henna has been around for many years. Traditionally women in India have henna painted on different parts oftheir body, mai...
times due to lack of materials. Tribal culturees get their inspiration for bold designs from nature, imaginationand tradti...
higher up in the tribe that certain person is considered. Due to the fact that it takes time to elongate an earlobe, the o...
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  1. 1. IntroductionA study into the sociological characteristics and motivations behind body art- to understand the addictions/motivations behind tattoos- to exam tribal body art in order to understand its relevance within the tribe- to understand the symbolic messages of gang culture body artFor my project I will be looking at Body art. There are many different aspects of body art that I will be lookingat thoroughly. Addictions and motivations behind tattoos will be one of the aspects I have decided to examine.There are a high percentage of regular people who have tattoos, whether they be small or large, therefore itwill be interesting to know and find out what their motivations for these tattoos are and whether they havesome type of addiction that attracts them to “getting inked”.Tribal Body art is a very deep and expressive part of tribal culture. Therefore I will be looking into the relevanceof certain aspects of the body art that tribal cultures have, whether the art has a specific meaning to theperson that has it or represents a specific attribute in their culture. Tribal cultures are very large and in somecases the body art that certain cultures have is very sacred to them.In gang cultures tattoos are used too mainly remember an event in a person’s life. There are many differentkinds of tattoos that a well known to many different gangs and have symbolic messages behind them that canhave great meaning behind or just represent the name of their gang. - To understand the addictions/motivations behind tattoosIf you were approached by two people.One who wore a suit and looked highly intelligent and one who hadtattoos up his arms and on his neck, which one who you feel inclined to approach or make a business relatedconversation with?
  2. 2. Would your opinion of a person change purely based on the fact that they have tattoos or don’t dress smartlyon a regular basis?Tattoos have been around for 5000 and have grown even more popular over the recent years. 1 in 10 peoplenow have one or more tattoos. There are many different types of tattoos from tribal and Chinese tattoos tobull dogs and fairies. People will get tattoos for many different reasons, these reasons can include; a highlyimportant change in someone’s life, death of a loved one or other reasons that have helped them to becomewho they are now. Other people will purely get a tattoo because they think it looks nice and they want todecorate their body with art.People often rely on physical appearance of another person to create their first impression of them. By judginga person on their physical appearance such as; what they’re wearing, their hair, if they have bodymodifications; can inevitably create false image of that person’s personality and the way they act. Would youjudge someone depending on the type or tattoos that they have?There is a huge discrimination against tattoos in the work place. A long debate that has and probably willalways be carried on about how tattoos aren’t acceptable for a work place and the person that has them donot look respectable or presentable enough. However when a celebrity chooses to get a tattoo the onlydiscussion is about whether it looks nice or it’s spelt correctly.(Joseph Farah, 2006)“WASHINGTON – You run a fashionable restaurant with a dress code for employees andcustomers that discourage pierced tongues and noses. You are a personnel director at an upscale departmentstore known for customer service and refuse to hire women with prominent tattoos. You supervise asupermarket and require those with pierced body parts who handle food to remove the piercings beforereporting to work. According to legal experts in employment law, if you fit any of these categories, you aresetting yourself up for lawsuits from members of a new activist lobby representing the ever-growingpopulation of those into "body modification.Tattoos and body modifications have become one of the most talked about topics in the 21st century, thiscertain trend is being worked into television adverts by major corporations. There are even children’s booksthat represent tattoos such as; “Mommy has a tattoo” and “Tattoo Colouring Book.” An interesting story line iscreated in “Mommy has a tattoo” where a little body is frightened of a neighbour who happens to be heavilytattooed. He then realises his mother has a tattoo also and realises not to be afraid of his neighbour.Addiction is something that is highly associated with tattoos. Many people claim to be or are actually in factaddicted to getting tattoos. There are a vast number of different reasons why someone could be addicted tohaving tattoos and more or less these reasons may apply to most of the people that have multiple tattoos on
  3. 3. their body or are covered from head to toe. These explanations or reasons for being addicted to tattoos can beeither physiological or social depending on the person.Physiologicalhttp://www.newlookhouston.com/blog/2010/06/28/15-reasons-someone-could-become-addicted-to-tattoos/Adrenaline, Endorphins or pain substitution/self-mutilation are all factors of a physiological nature that caninfluence a tattoo addiction. As tattoos can be painful the body responds by releasing adrenaline which mostpeople tend to enjoy the adrenaline rush that they get from a tattoo therefore making it one of the most likelyculprits in causing tattoo addiction. Endorphins are released when pain is caused so the pain can be relieved;they are also associated with creating a natural “high” like exercise and orgasms. The chemical reactionbetween these created an increased drive and even creates the addiction that some people have to gettingtattoos.Often tattooing is referred to as a pain substitution, much like when someone chooses to cut themselves orcause themselves pain in order to find a sense of control or an emotional or mental stress relief. Tattooing canbe like a release of these things for some people through the pain of the tattoo needle, therefore resulting insomeone becoming addicted to that feeling of pain which would lead them to constantly get more and moretattoos.Furthermore some people choose to have tattoos as a “cry for attention”. Tattoos can and are often comparedwith different types of creative expression such as; piercings or brightly coloured hair. However with tattoosbeing permanent they are often placed in a different category. A person that has a visible tattoo can often saythat because of that tattoo someone has spoken to them or stared therefore giving that person a feeling thatthey are the center of attention which some people often crave. The need for connection or even slightacknowledgement can create an addiction to tattoos for that person.A massive factor relating to why people have tattoos and are addicted to them is because of self-expression.Similar to the reason why a person would dye their hair or get a certain piercing to express the person thatthey are. However tattooing is a more powerful and sometimes understandable way of expressing yourself.Having a tattoo that represents something or someone or has a specific meaning behind it which is relevant tothe person can be seen as a way of expressing themselves or helping them overcome an event in their life or a
  4. 4. passing of a loved one through artwork. It is not uncommon for someone to has a tattoo that has a specificmeaning behind it and is one of the major factors as to why it is an addiction.In addition, tattoos can just be a simple form of artwork. Someone could be highly interested in artwork andwould want to create a piece of artwork on their body so that they can appreciate it for the rest of their lives. .If painters and sculptors can exhibit signs of addiction to their art, it stands to reason tattoo artists, and tattooaficionados could also feel a pull that resembles addiction when it comes to getting tattoos.SocialIn a social sense tattoos are widely known for different aspect of someone’s social life. Such as; OrganisationalObligations. A person may have a tattoo to represent a certain group/organization that they are a part of toshow membership to that specific group. These Tattoos are normally related in gang groups in prison or bikergroups. Because of the situations these kinds of people are in, the want to be in a gang or be accepted is veryhigh therefore causing an addiction to tattoos.While the tattooed have formed a sub-culture of their own, tattoos have been important parts of manycultures since ancient times. Many cultures practice the art of tattooing for both spiritual and ritualisticreasons. These kinds of tattoos can also be used to specify someone into a certain religious, political or socialgroup. Even in western culture many individuals choose to get tattoos which identify their heritage with flags,family crests or other iconic imagery. In UK culture often “Football thugs” as they are referred to by mostpeople will get tattoos such as an England flag, to represent what football team they support. Also many“football thugs” will have a bull dog tattooed somewhere on their body. The bull dog is a symbol of pride forBritianpeople, it shows bravery and represents the hardships that British went through during WW2. The flagof Scotland, called the Saltire, also known as Saint Andrew’s Cross, is continuously used as a tattoo by theScotts.The Thistle is another popular Scottish tattoo often adopted by many Scottish gold club maker. Theseboth show a symbol of national pride and toughness. The thistle is also known to be many Scottish teams logo.
  5. 5. This inclination to pay homage to one’s culturally history, heritage or ancestry could feed an already addictiveinclination toward tattoos. The addiction to tattoos through heritage and culture is caused by the pressure inneeding to be accepted in their culture or to show many different forms of emotions to prove themselves totheir culture of just represent their culture due to pride. - to understand the symbolic messages of gang culture body artTattoos are huge part of gang culture. There are many different tattoos that are well known that representcertain events in a person in a gangs life. Tattoos in gang culture represent a commitment that stays with thebody even after life. Gang members are committed to the gang for life and shared tattoos are a way ofunifying members of a gang.In many prisons around the world white inmates who are normally outnumbered and don’t tend to be gang-organised in the prison population find it extremely important to show racial status to declare their place inthe prison. White inmates will often have tattoos of swastikas or crosses signifying membership to one ofmany white supremacist groups in the prison.An article by (Jean Casarez,2009) talks about a white inmate by the name of Joseph Bearden faced the deathpenalty for repeatedly stabbing a man in 2007. Bearden has two dagger tattoos above and underneath his lefteye, a small tear drop under his right eye and on his neck another tattoo that is a copra snake poised andready to strike. Before entering prison Bearden did not have these tattoos, throughouthis time in prison he was beaten so severely that he had to be admitted to hospital because of his injuries.Bearden later got the tattoos that he now has to help him survive jail life and to be accepted. During juryselection for his trial, potential jurors were asked individually whether the tattoos that Bearden had wouldinfluence their decision on his guilt.Tattoos in gang cultures mostly are done to unify a member within a gang. However tattoos in gang culturesare used to distance a person from mass society and from other gangs. By a person from a gang tattooing
  6. 6. themselves it is meant to bring about fear and show a documentation of gang life and it’s culture.This can be shown in many ways whether it be a tally of the number of crimes that a certain person hascommitted, representing a gang, mourning or memory of the loss of a loved one or representing and showinga life-sentence in prison.Many different designs and symbols can be recognized by anyone as a gang tattoo. However each differentgang will have different tattoos that represent different meanings; however they can be similar but arepersonalized by the gang so that they are highlighted to their certain gang, or a certain individual. Religiousdevotion and cultural pride can be symbolized using things such as blood and guns which may come to shocksome people, but are generally couple on the same canvas.Almost every single prison tattoos are done by artist convicts using homemade tattoos guns. These tattoos anddone quickly and secretly to avoid the risk of being caught which would result in a ‘major case’. Prisoners canand may lose their privileges, be moved to a restricted wing or denied parole if convicted for this. In prison thehandiwork of a tattoo artist is the most respected skill amongst inmates.Marks obtained in prison have significance on the streets amongst gangs. It is almost impossible to go into atattoo parlour without finding designs that emerged from the long, continuously evolving history of the Texaslock-up. Rasheed, a Muslim serving 20 years in Huntsville’s Wyn unit, was a 15-year-old Houston Crip gangmember when he killed two people in a drug deal. Now 21, he reads The Koran, prays facing Mecca and fastsduring the month of Ramadan. But still displayed prominently on his chest is the barrel of a gun and the word“kill” tattooed directly above it.Convicts of all races seem to have teardrops tattooed directly below their eyes, giving people the impressionthat they are permanently crying. This tattoo takes on different meaning depending on the place and timewhen the tattoo was actually acquired. Originally each tear drop that a person had on their face wouldrepresent a murder committed. Throughout the years this has changed and now a teardrop can representeach of the family or gang members who died while that certain prisoner has been locked up. Due to thelocation of the tattoo, it is a commitment showing how prison has almost literally scarred the inmate. In aworld where not caring about consequences is respected, tattoos declare themselves fearless. For that reasoninside the confines of the prison most hardened gang members, rather than hide their markings, display themfearlessly.
  7. 7. These are two twins; Bless and Kojak. They are 43 years old and both have spent 19 years in prison forstabbing a man. Bless is a member of the 28s, also more tattooed than his brother. The spider web that can beseen on his neck symbolises how he will wait patiently for prey. The four stars on his shoulder show his highrank in the 28s. Both Bless and Kojak have fangs tattooed underneath their lips to show that they will bite, alsodevil horns tattooed on their foreheads
  8. 8. This well over 6ft tall man called Omar is covered in small tattoos. Jailed for 15 years because he stabbed aman who had smashed a rock over his head. He was referred to as ‘King’ in prison, and very high statusmember of the 28s gang. He has a tattoo of a hand on his neck which is the 28’s salute. Also a scorpion on hisarm shows his membership to the Cape Town Scorpions gang.A common tattoo amongst gangs is the dots. The dots are usually tattooed in small groups of three or fivedots. Generally three dots located between the thumb and forefinger has many meanings, usually it willrepresent the three places that most often gang members end up – Hospital, or prison or the grave.Members of the Sur 12 often have three dots placed on their wrist, as well as a singular dot on the other wrist,this signifies the number 13.Sometimes refer to the three dots as the 3 I´s of the gang culture: Injury, Incarceration and Interment. Thedots may also stand for "mi vidaloca" ("my crazy life"). They may also be referred to as "party dots." Andfinally, they may represent a gang known as Los Vatos Locos (The Crazy Dudes or Guys) gang. Only the personwearing the dots knows what they mean to him or her.Along with the pachuco cross, the number 187, and the slang tattoo "Thug Life", the "three dots", referred toas "trespuntos" in Spanish, is a popular "generic" tattoo, particularly among Latino teenagers, and has nopositive, direct connection to gang affiliation.
  9. 9. Mexican Gang CultureMexican gangs are one of the large groups of gangs that have tattoos that are related to the certain gang thata person may be involved in. Originally the Mexican mafia prison gang banned the practice of religion as a wayto show membership to the group. Mexico is generally a country deeply fixated with catholic tradition; this hasmade it impossible to undermine the influence of religion all together, even when relating to violent criminalgang members. This is why Mexican gang members tend to be found with tattoos of hand clasped together inprayer, this tattoo generally represents a powerful image of a plea for forgiveness from God for the wrong thegang member has done.Many Mexican gang tattoos often have significant phrases personal to that particular gang member. Theseinclude phrases like Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life” and PerdonameMi Madre (Forgive Me, Mother) which showhow they are aware of their gangster life and how it is unacceptable to their family members and loved ones.There words or phrases are usually tattooed in Old English style letters. Some Mexican gang members alsotattoo the web of the hands with drawings relating to a special role within the gang. Sometimes these symbolsare burned into the hand. Most Mexican gangs prefer the colours of the Mexican flag as their gang’s colours.The colours of the Mexican flag are green, white and red. That is the reason why these colours predominate inthe tattoos of Mexican gang members.Russian Gang CultureRussian gang members have tattoos for a much deeper reason than most. Russian mafia usually uses tattoosas a way to display the truth to one another. By looking at a tattooed person in the Russian mafia people areable to pretentiously work out the details of that certain person’s criminal career such as; if they have lied,stolen, betrayed, been in prison or even murdered. Russian mafia tattoos represent what rank or positionthey are in their gang and where their loyalties lay, sometimes even their sexual preference. Since these tattoos represent the truth, if anyone is caught with fake tattoos or a tattoo that lies about whothey are, severe consequences may be put forward. If certain things are changed about a person in the Russianmafia such as their loyalties then they are made to burn off their old tattoo and replace them with new onesthat represent their ‘new truths’.A tattoo of a rose on the chest is normally given to a new gang member to start of their career. Higher rankmembers of the gang always employ a tattoo artist for every tattoo that needs doing. Whereas in prisons thegang member will make their own inks and guns using material available to them, this means that their tattoos
  10. 10. are usually one colour. However tattoos given to the Russian mafia are mostly situated on the torso, thereforebeing covered by clothes.Symbolism and specific meaning of many of the tattoos in the Russian mafia are generally not clear for anyoneoutside the gang culture; however a few of them can be explained. A few that can be explained are stars foundof the chest; these signify a ‘career criminal’. Also a cathedral with five domes can symbolize five years inimprisonment.Members of the gang that disrespect or go against the gang can and most likely will be forcibly tattooed. Thismostly will occur in prison; these tattoos will often consist of derogatory words or indecent images.Gang tattoos are a study in contradictions; they reflect a culture where life is fleeting but tattoos make therecord of life, and often life-record, immortal.UK Gang Culture - to exam tribal body art in order to understand its relevance within the tribeTribal body art is highly popular and compulsory in many different types of tribes. Different pieces of body arthave different meanings, whether they be spiritual or status related. It can also be used to express beauty ofthe wearer.African body art is used to express an certain individual’s status amongst their tribe, spiritual beliefs or ethnicgroup. There are many different ways of creating body art such as; 1. Scarification 2. Body painting 3. Beadwork 4. Jewellery 5. Mutilation
  11. 11. Each of these methods of creating body art changes the wearer in an object that is shaped and created bycolour, textures, patterns and movement.During dangerous times or events is a person’s life body art is used as a protective symbol to help them moveon to adulthood through childhood.Scarification is used to show something about the wearer. Scarification can be anything from cutting toburning and whipping, which for most people would be considered painful, but for the wearers of these theyare a way of showing a certain attribute they have or a stage in their life that they are progressing to. In theNigeian tribe, Ga’anda, pubescent girls are made to be scarred on their shoulders, backs and stomachs withdelicate and individual designs to show the transition into womanhood. For the Sudanese tribe of Shilluk, theyuse scarred dots usually across the forehead to give and display details about that certain person’s heritage.Body painting is probably one of the most common methods used to create body art, also one of the leastpainful methods. Body painting s most formally used to represent sexual maturity. The colours of the tribe arefrequently used in body painting to represent it, however can be also used to give a specific message about thewearer. The Nuba males in Sudan, unlike other tribes who usually only use body painting in times of worshipor mourning, paint and decorate almost their entire body to indicate their stage in life.Beadwork is a highly popular form of body art that Africans are more or less famous for. The uses of colourfulbeads are used in many different ways by Africans such as; on their body and in their hair, also these beads areused on clothing. There are a number of reasons why colourful beads are used and what they represent.Beadwork will mainly represent certain aspects of the wearer such as; gender, power within the tribe, howmany children the wearer has and more.Jewellery is used as a way to create beauty. Mainly tribe jewellery is made from leather, hair, grasses, beads,bones, shells and seeds. When jewellery was made from a more valuable material such as coral the wearerwould see it as more valuable.Mutilation is the most creative way that tribes people use to express themselves are certain things in theirlives. Mutilation can include earlobe and lip plugs, neck rings. Any other similar method of changing the body’sappearance by stretching is considered Mutilation. By doing these types of things tribes people are able tohave the result of having a strange physical feature that more than likely becomes a part of them are they maynot be able to change the effects of Mutilation.Tribal art is used in many different cultures all over the world. In India Body and face painting have been inIndian cultures since ancient times. When hunting, men would paint their faces and bodies to camouflagethemselves in order to give them more of a chance of killing. Face painting is mainly used when festivities arebefore held or a certain drama or performance if being put on. Often during religious events people in Indiawill have their faces painted.
  12. 12. Henna has been around for many years. Traditionally women in India have henna painted on different parts oftheir body, mainly their hands and feet, their skins and inside of their arms. This will occur for a wedding for aany other special occasion. Henna is often linked with religious symbols.Henna history and origin is hard totrace as it has been around for so many years now. Some of the earliest tribes and civilizations to use hennaare; Assyrians, Canaanites and Babylonians. A tablet dating back to 2100 BC shows evidence of henna usedspecifically for a women or bride’s special occasion. Henna has also been used in southern China. Henna inChina would often be linked with rituals and has been for around three thousand years, during ancientGoddess Cultures.In central Australia tribal groups known as Aborigines have passed down specific face painting designsthroughout centuries. Aboriginies would use a mix of ground ochre and water to apply stripes and or circles tothe face. Face painting for aboriginal people has become a new language, as they use cryptic symbols fordifferent things. Spirtual signicificance is shown through body painting, personal adornment and decortaion.Body painting for aborigines, like in some other cultures, is a way of showing social status and sometimesrelationship to their family. Also body painting can reflect ancetors. An Aboriginie can be completely changedso they ‘become’ the spirit ancestor they are portaying in dance.In Native American culture colour has specific meaning when it comes to body and face painting. Red is knownas the colour of war, Black is the colour of ‘living’. Black is usually worn during war preparations to give thepeople hope. White represents peace and green is usually worn under the eyelids at night, thus giving thewearer night vision. Yellow, unlike in many other places in the world is considered to be the colour of deathand should only really be worn when a certain person in in mourning. However yellow can also represent thata man has lived a good life and will keep on fighting until the end.Usualy in tribal cultures, ones that still follow the custom of face painting, the colour will be chosen due to thematerials available to them. Colours such as red, blue, yellow and white were the only colours used in anicent
  13. 13. times due to lack of materials. Tribal culturees get their inspiration for bold designs from nature, imaginationand tradtional masks that have already been made. Cultures think that painting is a way to captures a certainemotion and or expression and gives it more meaning for a longer period of time, unlike any other form of art.Painting is simply a mixture of lines, colours, tones, texture a space to create an interesting pattern onsomeone. Sometimes by sprinkling dust or soft bird feathers, special effects were achieved. Nowadays mosttribesmen choose to use branded face paints.Face painting is probably one of the most important types of body art in the Native American culture. Unlikesome other cultures, to Native Americans it is so much more than trying to make someone more beautiful.However like most other cultures face painting is used on special occasions to signify social status in the groupand boost their appearance. Indian tribes tend to have their own unique way of face painting that they haveexplored and perfected throughout many years. Native American Indians generally use natural materials suchare berries, tree barks and roots to create their dyes for face painting. Another material that is also used inNative Indian face painting is clay of different hues.Colours are applies to the nose, the rest of the face is covered with paint. Warriors in tribes would usuallypaint their faces with colour clay, and then the design of their tribe would be painted onto their face. Eachspecific tribe has their own designs for ceremonies and war that are included in the design on the person face.Plain Indians would paint everything that could be painted on such as’ clothing, their homes and even theirhorses. Pictures and symbols that they drew had specific and deep meaning and often told stories, howevertheir culture lack a specific written language, unlike most tribes. Red was the most popular used by this tribe,they used plants, clays and duck dung to create the colours that they wanted. The natives before thesegenerally used a range of different colours to create their paintings. A yellow paint was made from earth fromthe Yellowstone River, as well as from bull berries and pine tree moss. Blue was obtained from duck droppingsfound on the shores of lakes, or from blue-coloured mud. White earth and clay were used to make white paint.Green was made from plants, copper ore or mud. The pigments were placed over a fire to dry, then groundinto a fine powder on mortars of stone or wood. They were then mixed with tallow. The colours, kept separatein small buckskin bags, were mixed with hot water when the artist was ready for them.Indian artists normally used willow branches that were straight, so they could be used as a ruler to drawstraight lines, to create their paintings. Short, flat sticks could be used as well. Brushes that were used to paintcould be made from a range of things such as, buffalo bone, chewed cottonwood and willow sticks. For everydifferent colour there was and different brush had to be used.In many different tribes a big part of body art would be considered ear lobe stretching. By stretching the earlobes of a person it is meant to signify beauty for either the male or female. Ear lobe stretching often starts atan early age, the ear lobes are pierced and brass weights are used as earrings to stretch the earlobe to therequired size.By elongating ear lobes in different cultures is can also represent status for a person, the long the ear lobe the
  14. 14. higher up in the tribe that certain person is considered. Due to the fact that it takes time to elongate an earlobe, the older a person is the longer their ear lobes will be, therefore elongated earlobes can also representage as well as status.However in tribal cultures this art form is slowly dying but most jungle tribes will still attempt to do this withmany of the people in the tribes. The reason that this certain type of art form is dying is because of injuriescaused due to the size of someone’s ears, often they will get caught on something and ripped unintentionally.However earlobe stretching and elongating has become a popular trend in modern culture but not for thereasons it was popular in certain tribes and cultures.

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