Vintage tattoos, from the nineteenth century to the new millennium: a fashion written under the skin of the centuries
FROM THE BOOM OF THE 20S TO THE "MANIA" EXPLODED TODAY: THE PRACTICE OF "DECORATING THE BODY" IS MUCH OLDER THAN WE BELIEVE.
The tattoo is not at all a fashion or a recent invention. Born during the Iron Age (1200-1000 BC), the practice of permanent skin decoration has experienced several successful periods and many phases of decline: from the "recovery" of the late nineteenth century to the boom of the '20s and' 30 up to the "mania" of our days. Here is a series of photographs that immortalize men and women of the past who have chosen to get tattooed, starting with the "pioneers" at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century.
The word "tattoo" comes from the Samoan "tatau", a term used by the indigenous peoples to describe the practice of drawing with ink under the skin. And the modern "rediscovery" of tattooing is linked to the "discovery" of distant lands. There are in fact numerous tales of travelers and sailors who, on their return from Polynesia, from Oceania and Southeast Asia, have told of beautiful women "with decorated skins".
This is the beginning of the success of the tattoo in the society of the Old Continent. We are at the height of the Victorian age: the stories of these daring explorers of the seas have filled the hearts of English women, who have begun to spread the tattoo in Britain. The fashion then landed also in continental Europe, where it recorded an unprecedented success until reaching a real "boom" in the 1920s. A phase of "calm" followed until the Seventies-Eighties, when a second "rediscovery" of tattoos took place, transmitted in a few years by the expressions of some subcultures (hippies, motorcyclists) to a widespread practice in all social strata.