Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Tattooing, the practice of pricking the skin and filling the punctures with colouring matter, so as to produce an ornamental design. The Tahitian name of these patterns is tatau (from ta, "a mark"). The custom prevails throughout a great part of Oceania, and is also followed by the Chinese, Japanese, and Burmese, and aborigines of North and South America. From its prohibition in Lev. xix. 28, it may be gathered that it was known to the races with whom the Israelites were brought in contact. The tattoo sometimes has a religious or social significance; among the Polynesians, for instance, it frequently represents the totem (q.v.) of the clan to which the wearer belongs. Tattooing is very common in Europe, not only amongst sailors, who may have learnt it from savage tribes, but throughout the whole male portion of the lower strata of the population.