Thursday, 6 March 2008

Tattoos and Armenia

Tattoos in European culture have often represented stepping outside the boundaries of society, whether to indicate bravery, piety (Armenian Christians used to mark themselves to show they had made an important pilgrimage), impiety… machismo… or simply eccentricity. [Victoria Finlay, Colour, p.359]

More fascinating details and stories hinted at there by Finlay’s super book. However, my critical mind can’t help but notice that Armenia is not exactly a European culture (its shared Christian culture does not make it European since its church predates any medieval or modern sense of ‘Europe’ and was all but inaccessible to Western Europeans during its formative years and the even more rambunctious formative years of Europe) which may undermine Finlay’s point about European tattooing habits until the last few decades, anyway. Which makes me ask, what is the history of the European tattoo?