Thursday, March 26, 2009


Tattooing, though usually thought of as a piece of body art that will stick with the wearer for the rest of his life is sometimes lasts for even less time than a broken bone. The ancient Indian body art practice known as Mehendi, or henna tattooing, used to be part of the preparation a woman would go through before she had a special event, such as a wedding or religious ceremony, to attend. Though traditionally henna tattooing was only for women today men and even children can receive a henna tattoo. Henna ink is actually a paste made from henna plants and is completely organic and pain free ( The paste is applied to the skin, usually in traditional designs wrapping around the wrists, forearms, hands, and top of feet. The paste is then allowed to dry and is then easily brushed from the skin leaving only a dark mark on the skin which it directly touched. These elaborate and pain-free tattoos do have one down side if someone especially desires to keep the design on their skin, they fade and over time, usually about a month, they disappear completely from the skin leaving no trace. Though it is possible to get an original design with henna the majority of henna tattoos are done with traditional designs. The traditional henna designs though do not just come in set patterns that are just stenciled on the recipient, they can range from the relatively simple, such as a swirling patterned ring around one's wrist and hand, to extremely intricate designs which can cover the entirety of one's hands and feet.

Works Cited
"Henna Artisans." The Henna Tattoo People. 27 Mar. 2009 .

Nothing Feels Better Than a Good Stretch

Though piercing is a very popular form of body art, some people feel as though a small piece of metal through their skin is not enough. These people take the small hole made by the original piercing and stretch the skin around it gradually over time until the desired size is reached. Though gauging an piercing is often though of as an extent of piercing, it cannot be done as easily as a simple piercing, nor can it be done in as many places. In order to gauge a piercing one usually starts with a normal sized piercing and then slowly over time the person gets bigger and bigger gauged pieces of jewelry and stretches the opening. Gauges can range in size from just slightly larger than a pin to big enough for someone to fit his hand through the hole. People cannot get every piercing gauged to that extent though, for obvious reasons. Most people, if they opt for gauges, only gauge their ears, but in some cases, such as the one shown above, gauges can be in their lips and nose as well. In even more rare cases people get more private piercings gauged such as their nipples or even parts of their genitalia. If done incorrectly gauging can result in serious consequences. The skin around the gauge can often split or scar if stretched too rapidly without adequate time to heal between switching the sizes of jewelry. Though some people find gauges to be unattractive, frightening, or even intimidating it is just another way in which people can express their creativity with their bodies.


Body piercing is another very popular form of body art that has become increasingly popular. Piercing is the act of taking a piece of metal jewelry ("jewelry" being used loosely) is inserted through the skin of a recipient and then is left there as a piece of body decoration, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Piercings can range from the simple and common to the extreme and outlandish. Simple piercings, such as one or both ears is often times done when the recipient of the piercing is very young sometimes even before the recipient can talk. Facial piercings are another very common form of body art. If the recipient does not want to have too extreme piercings he or she may opt to have his or her eyebrow, nose (nostril or septum), tongue, or lip pierced. Even these can sometimes get to be closer to the range of extreme piercings if done with too much frequency. Piercings options often stray from the face and head though. Many teenage girls, and a few guys, get their bellybuttons pierced. Many consider any other piercings to be extreme and, in some cases, grotesque. With technology today it seems that people can get a piece of metal through, or at least stuck into, any and every part of their bodies. Certain websites are even dedicated to the art of body piercing. is a site completely devoted to the art of body piercings. They have categorized archives of pictures of piercings. They have galleries for piercings of the eyebrow, nose, lip, tongue, ears, and navel. They also have galleries for more extreme piercings such as nipple piercings; male and female genitalia piercings; pocketing, which is when a piece of metal is embedded under the skin with parts of it exposed; and one category which is just labeled "Unusual ("

Yakuza Crime

Along with the emotional and artistic reasons for getting a tattoo there is also the aspect of inclusion. Gangs around the world use tattoos to indicate one's participation in their group. Though there is much symbolism and meaning behind these tattoos some gangs do not allow for the rest of the community in which they live to see them. This is especially prominent in the gangs of Asia, more specifically the Yakuza (Violence Group), the gangs of Japan. Many of these gangs use hidden tattoos which cover all of their body except for their heads, necks, wrists, hands, ankles, and feet to show gang inclusion. The tattoos do not extend to these extremities in order to allow the gang members to live seemingly normal lives with normal jobs without having anyone recognizing them as gang members. Though co-workers and acquaintances of Yakuza members may not know the member's association with the gang, the Japanese government requires that all members of the Yakuza gang to be identified and registered with the government ( The tattoos which the Yakuza receive are not all just random symbols and pictures, many members have tattoos such as black rings around their arms to indicate the number of crimes which the specific member has committed. The tattoos are also as sign of strength and the unwillingness to assimilate themselves with the rules and norms of society. Some of the elaborate tattoo work done on the Yakuza members can take over one hundred hours. Though the Yakuza mainly make their money from illicit activities, such as gambling, drugs, prostitution and extortion, they are often looked at as a family that looks out for and protects its members. They even look out for the societies in which they live as well. After the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, the Yakuza not only helped financially by setting up financial aid, but they also arranged for a helicopter to come in and help the people in most dire need of it. Tattooing for the Yakuza is more of a form of inclusion than an intimidation tactic to warn everyone to stay away, even if it is not always seen that way. Sometimes these elaborate and beautiful works of art cause the wearer to be banned from places like public baths and hotels due to the fact that older generations still see these tattoos as signs of crime and violence (

Works Sited
"Archive for Yakuza." Weblog post. Yakuza. 27 Mar. 2009 .

"The Yakuza Modern Day Japanese Mafia." Weblog post. Yakuza - Japanese Mafia and Their Tattoos. 27 Mar. 2009 .

"Four Tears in My Face and You Ain't Never Heard Me Cry"

In the American culture people get tattoos and piercings for many reasons, to express one's love for someone, to express an idea that is very close to someone's heart, or even just because he likes the look of a piercing or tattoo. Though a piercing can sometimes have significant meaning to a person, it is usually tattoos which are used to express a belief, emotion, or idea. One specific tattoo design that is seen very often in the Hip-Hop culture of America, and on the faces of many prisoners, is the teardrop tattoo. The general design of the tattoo is the same, but slight variations in the way in which the tear is filled in give it very different connotations. Though the meaning of the teardrop has come to represent one murder committed per drop, its actual meanings are quite varied and are not always associated with violence. For the most part the teardrop is a symbol of the loss of a friend, loved one, or, on a man, it can represent the loss of a brother ( If the teardrop is just an outline it signifies that either a loved one of the wearer has been killed or that the wearer has attempted murder but was unsuccessful ( In the Hip-Hop industry, famous rapper, The Game, wears one of these tears emblazoned opposite his tattoo representing L.A. A teardrop tattoo that is filled in represents either that a loved one has purposefully taken his own life or that a loved one has died in a way other than murder such as a car crash, accidental drug overdose, or death penalty ( This specific teardrop tattoo is also seen in the Hip-Hop industry on the face of famous rapper Lil' Wayne. The last style in which the teardrop is commonly seen is a tear with only the bottom half filled in but the top half left empty. This style indicates that a loved one of the wearer was murdered but then the wearer took matters into his own hands and killed the murderer.

Work Cited

Boyd, Noel. "The Teardrop Tattoo." Weblog post. A Tattooed Blog by Noel Boyd. Tattoos, Life n' Everything Else! 19 Mar. 2005. 26 Mar. 2009 .