Monday, 16 October 2006

Fresh Ink

There's a sign at the tattoo shop that says ' the only risk from tattooing is addiction'.

There is definitely truth in this - one week after the London Convention I find myself in the chair having some fresh ink done.

I am a bit of a late starter in all this. I'd been thinking about having something done for years and then just as I had decided to go for it, the whole world and his dog seem to be getting tattooed. Everyone was suddenly sporting 'Wayne and Sharon' in authentic ancient Tibetan script, and so I put the idea off. Then I thought 'if not now, when ?' So I first took the plunge a couple of years ago.

I have now started trying to work my way up over time to a Celtic half-sleeve. Being something of a history geek though the Celtic bit has to be authentic, so I am taking the designs from the shapes on actual artefacts.

So, as an authenticity snob, I have to say that most of what passes as Celtic tattoos are really nothing of the sort. All the fancy knotwork that you usually see may look good; but it actually dates from a much later period, by which time the Celts ( actually Britons is a better term) would probably have stopped tattooing. The designs show Saxon and Norse influences, and come largely from monks' illustrations in the Book of Kells.

And ironically it was the early Christians who made tattooing disreputable in the West with Pope Hadrian banning the practice in AD 787.

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