It is a widely held view that the art of tattoo originated from Polynesia and is derived from the Polynesian word "Ta-tau" which means "to strike a mark". The practice is part of a cultural tradition typically applied to coincide with ceremonies of the time. tattoos were applied using a variety of tools. The most common being a comb like utensil made from wood or bone with numerous sharp needles. The process of applying a tattoo to the body includes coating the sharpened needle with a pigment (usually from the ashes of a fire) which is then mixed with water or oil.
The needle is then tapped to pierce the skin which is then impregnated with the pigment, leaving a permanent mark. This was, and still is, a painful experience for the recipient. Most of the early Polynesian designs consisted of rectangles, lines and triangles all joined together. It is not clear why these designs were chosen but many speculate that it could be symbolic of the sails used on sailing craft of the time.
Some cultures preferred to tattoo only certain parts of the body and these were often different for men and women. For example, Maori women would tattoo their chin and lips while the men would sometimes cover their whole face. Hawaiians would tattoo opposing parts of the body, for example they might tattoo the left shoulder and the right thigh. In Tahiti, men typically cover their thighs and buttocks with tattoo designs while women paint their arms, legs and upper bodies. Apart from the early use of tattoo by the Celts, Europeans did not adopt the art widely. t would seem that early designs were heavily influenced by sailors and their environment. his is perhaps why water tattoos are so popular. hey have a strong heritage in the art and water is a pure, fresh and refreshing image. he Polynesians are a sea faring people and their art would have also been heavily influenced by the sea. s discussed before, the lines and shapes seem to depict sailing vessels at sea. Today the art is mainstream. ody art has become common place and there are numerous designs for almost anything you can imagine. f course more recently, the introduction of colour has added a new dimension to the art. n early days of European tattooing it was mainly males that had tattoos. oday females are adopting the art readily and their needs are bringing a new dimension to the art.