ANCIENTSKIN

Traditionelles Tätowieren

Handpoke : Tattoo : Ritual

Ich bevorzuge das Arbeiten von Hand. Es ist eine andere „energetische“ Ebene als mit der Maschine und für mich eine Wertschätzung  der Tattoo-Tradition. Eine Art Entschleunigung in der heutigen, schnelllebigen Zeit. Ein handgestochenes Tattoo braucht viel Zeit und Geduld, was heutzutage in sehr wenigen Bereichen noch Bedeutung finden darf.

By the early 20th century Menominee tattooing was mainly therapeutic or medicinal. According to one source, those suffering from headaches would ask a healer to tattoo the image of a thunderbird at the source of their pain.

Smithsonian catalog E76156-0; drawing after Gifford (1933) “The Cocopa
Photo: Smithsonian catalog E76156-0; drawing after Gifford (1933) “The Cocopa

The Kwapa (Cocopah)

The Kwapa (Cocopah) along the lower Colorado River basin are among the many Native American groups in the American Southwest and Mexico who once tattooed using thorns and spines from cacti and other native plant species. Those traditions were mostly suppressed and extinguished by the early 20th century as a result of Colonial and Christian influences.

These mesquite spines were used by the Kwapa for tattooing around 1885, when they were collected for the Smithsonian. They would be tied in a bundle of 2 or 3 spines, and after the skin was pricked charcoal would be rubbed on the wounds. Kwapa tattooing was done exclusively by women, on women.

Girls were tattooed on their chins around their first menstruation in a community event accompanied by songs and dancing. The drawing here shows several different chin designs. These tattoos marked women as adults, but were also essential for the afterlife: It was believed that the presence of tattoos granted a woman’s soul access to the ancestral realm. At death an untattooed woman could not reach the next world. Instead her soul would be scratched by beetles and sat bent over on the spirit path, so that other souls stepped on her back as they passed by. These same trials also faced those with unpierced ears.

Images: Smithsonian catalog E76156-0; drawing after Gifford (1933) “The Cocopa.”
Text: instagram.com/archaeologyink
American Museum of Natural History 50.1/6643.png
Photo: American Museum of Natural History 50.1/6643

Menominee, early 20th century

This Menominee tattooing tool dates to 1911 and consists of four sewing needles bound with cotton thread to a wood handle. The accompanying kit includes packages of charcoal for making ink, and a bent wood bowl for mixing and holding the ink.

By the early 20th century Menominee tattooing was mainly therapeutic or medicinal. According to one source, those suffering from headaches would ask a healer to tattoo the image of a thunderbird at the source of their pain. The tattoo tools were said to have been given to the Menominee by the Thunderbirds, and were symbolic representations of the spears (lightning) of those entities.

This Menominee kit is one of only three surviving examples -that we know of- of historical tattooing tools from North America’s Eastern Woodlands.

For more, see Krutak (2014) “Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity,” and also our 2017 chapter “Scratching the Surface: Mistaken Identifications of Tattoo Tools from Eastern North America” in #ancientink

Text: instagram.com/archaeologyink
Image after American Museum of Natural History 50.1/6643

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