Re: mutilation and ritual

Beth E. Kaminow (kaminow@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Fri, 5 Jul 1996 13:09:31 -0400

Marie Conrad asks if anyone on this list is tattooed or has ever talked=20
to anyone that is tattooed, I fit both categories. I have several=20
tattoos and a significant portion of my research has been about this=20
topic, specifically arguing (in part) that tattoos here in the West are=20
highly (but differently) ritualized markers and activities than those of=20
other cultures. Many of the people I have spoken with about their=20
tattoos got at least there first one in a large group. Also, many people I=
have spoken with share the same tattoo with a different person. Tattoos=20
themselves mark important periods in people's lives, for example, the=20
first tattoo I got marked the end of my career as an early childhood=20
teacher (its a stegasauras, the favorite dinosaur of my first nursery=20
school class). Many people have told me that they got at least some of=20
their tattoos to show affiliation with a certain group (namely=20
"alternative" culture), that fits right in with tattoo use in other parts=
of the world. In addition, I believe the relationship between the artist=
and the tattooed is gaining more importance. I have talked with a lot of=
people who go to only one artist to get their work done and others who=20
want to get work by as many people as they can, to make their bodies sort=
of a gallery. I hope this sheds some light.