History of Tattooing - View of Tattooing History

Tattoo is a type of body modification known for thousands of years. To create it, people insert ink into the dermis layer of the skin which changes color of the skin pigment and stays there for a long time. People tattoo themselves for many different reasons.

Practice of tattooing (a process of applying a tattoo on a skin) is very old. Oldest found evidence that people tattooed each other dates from Neolithic times. Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved natural mummy from the 4th millennium BC found in the Ötz valley in the Alps, has carbon tattoos in the shape of dots and lines. Mummy of Amunet from ancient Egypt and the mummies at Pazyryk on the Ukok Plateau in southwestern Siberia also have tattoos on them. There is also evidence that Pre-Christian Germanic, Celtic and other tribes from central and northern Europe also had tradition of tattooing. The Picts, peoples who lived in eastern and northern Scotland, were famous for their black and blue tattoos.

While other considered tattoos marks of pride, other saw them as barbaric. Ancient Chinese used to tattoo a symbol for “Prisoner” on the faces on convicted criminals and continued to do so until18th or 19th century. That didn't prevented tattooing to spread and create meaning of its own. Marco Polo found tattooing alive and well in Northern India and India, even today, has a tradition of making temporary tattoos with henna. Legend says that Yue Fei, a famous Chinese general during the Song dynasty, had a tattoo across his back that said "Repay the Country with Pure Loyalty" and that it was tattooed there by his mother.

Other civilizations also invented tattooing probably independently. Peoples of Philippines used tattooing as a marking of rank and accomplishment. In Egypt tattoos were mainly worn by women and these tattoos represented class, religious devotion they were worn as a method of healing, and as a form of punishment.

Tattoo waned in Europe under Christianity because it considered tattooing barbaric but it never disappeared completely. When the oceanic voyages and imperial conquests began in 16th century, travelers often brought home tattooed natives from the land they visited. When Captain James Cook made his voyages to the South Pacific he noted his observations about the indigenous body modifications and brought word “tattoo” into English and other languages. Tattooing, in the Old World and Americas, became popular among sailors and they were methods of self-expression as much as method of identification (in life as well as in death). By the 19th century, tattooing was popular among commoners and crowned heads alike. Although it was associated with lower classes in the 20th century it became mainstream again in the Western world in 1970s and is today common among both sexes, across all economic classes, and people of all ages tattoo themselves. There are tattoo parlors which tattoo people professionally and with great skill and people today wear tattoos that often tell much about them or are there as a memento of things they want to remember.

Australian Tattoo Icons of the past:

Dicky Reynolds

Danny Robinson Snr

Bev Robinson (AKA Cindy Ray)

Danny Robinson Jnr (Nutz)

Tex Newell

Len Wookey 142 Victoria Ave Albert Park VIC

Alf Mingins

Rich Mingins

Max Chater

John Entwislte (AKA Johny Dollar)

Des Connelly

Inky Rick

Eddie Barling - Geelong

Dennis Cockell

Greg Freeman

Neal “Animal” Davies

Dave Andrews

Doc Price

Danny Skuse

Chris Reed

Moe Webely

Chris Webb

Dace Fenwick

Bobby Thornton

Bernhard Olszewski

Topsy Carr

Chris Cashmore Kings Cross

Bill Furness

Pete Tiliakos at Maxs tattoo village early 80s

Nick Tiliakos

Kevin Coppin

Kevin Gray

Frank Collins

Frank Thompson

Lynne Wake

Vaughn Grifith

Ross Mcalpine

Johny Lee

Dutchy Corneillison

Bolly? Williamstown

John Sinclair

Graeme Iles

Danny 'Devo' Galvin - Oakleigh

Gary Marshall

Les Pridam Adelaide 1980

Jed Hill

Roach at Tattoo City

Ace at Tattoo City

Rodney Hamstead

Charlie Wagner

Rocky Little

Tony Cohen

Steve Baxter

John Farrow

Fred Heinrich

Patsy Farrow

Vic Farr

Albertus (Bert Wilde) Van Der Wolde

Greg Ardron

Rick Luder

Ray Shuttleworth

John Poole

Rod Davidson


John Nash

Rob Krause

Peter Magnall Kings Cross

H Derrick, 1914

Walter Maurice Lyons. Born in Melbourne 1872, Lyons traveled to San Francisco in his early 20s, tattooed there for 20 odd years, then returned to Australia and tattooed in Freemantle from 1917, into the 40s

Wally Hammond

Bob Hammond

Mick Hayes

David McCarthy Springvale

Trevor Mcstay

Gary Mooney from Lillydale

Gareth Ball (Moody Blue Tattoo)

Professor Gordon and John Sinclair. Both early Sydney tattooist, maybe 40s

Shaky Bill (Bill Neenan)

Dieter Rudolph 40 Bridge rd Richmond

Bob Woods

Roger Ingerton Kings Cross

Spider Webb

Melbourne tattoo artist L.Vane or Rocky Vane

Kiwi Kim

Moe Webley

Pete Blackwell

Duke Brown

Steve Hardy

Sailor Bill (aka bill furness?)

Peter Davidson

Blue Ryan

Tony "Tattoo" in Manly

Paul (DIsher) at North Road Ormond (station) about 1973

Billy Phillips 1970's

Steve Paul "mozzie" 1980

Fran (Dragon Lady) worked at illustrated man

Alex chater Oxford street Paddington in the early 70s (AKA Painless Chater)

bobby thornton

Colin Creed

James Hope, tattooed near the Moorbank military barricks from around 1895 As information comes to light, this fella is turning out to be a very interesting chap. Magician, boxer and tattooist.

Les Bowen

Rusty Skuse

prof. Rex Bennett? australian?

Pat Martyniuk? Australian?

Dom Chance? Australian

Flaps? In Port Lincoln

Bill Phillips

Jeff Rhodes

Fred Heinrich

Tattoo Karel tattooed with Vaughan in Flinders St Melbourne in 1976

Ron Syle

Paul Braniff  - Gold Coast Tattoos

Tony Ranger