To schematize, the tattoo disappears once in the Western world during the middle Ages. As early as the sixth century, the Catholic Church decided to forbid it, claiming that one should not alter the divine creation. Then it will be reintroduced at the time of the great maritime discoveries in the eighteenth century, in the South Seas and in particular in the Polynesian triangle.

Little by little, the sailors taking part in the Bougainville or Cook expeditions discovered this traditional practice of the Polynesian populations. They will be tattooed themselves and return to Western lands to exhibit these bodily decorations. The boredom of the sailors is to be taken into account because at the time, the crossings on the sailing boats are interminable. On board, they have a lot of free time, which explains the success of the tattoo. For the High end tattoos this is the perfect bit (Aureo Roma Tattoo & Gallery).

They were tattooed on the return boat?


The system was quite simple, they used the technique of the “triplette”, by means of sewing needles. They burned wood to create smoke black, which they diluted with water. They took three spikes simultaneously, which they then dipped in the smoke ink to begin tattooing. The problem was that the hygiene on board the boats was very bad and that infections could occur. Very quickly, the navy will worry and that is why the first studies concerning tattooing are the work of marine doctors in the first half of the nineteenth century.

What are the first reasons that sailors tattoo?

From the start, they put forward this iconography that we call “old school” today. It should be noted that it is above all the Anglo-Saxons who adopt this tradition. Sailors tattoo memories of places they visited, ports visited from Yokohama to Shanghai with a symbolism of their own: the trail of foam, the melancholy of the country. It should be noted that at the time, tattoos are not as personalized as today. You choose a theme on the wall and therefore you have the choice between a wheel, three-masted and a siren Symbols that evoke the sea.

Is there a link between these tattoos of sailors and those of “tulers”, prisoners?

The tattooing of the prisoners was more widespread in the Latin countries. These are two very distinct branches. There are however several common links: time and boredom. In the case of the taunts, he manifests a dull claim, putting words where one cannot express oneself.

If they are two separate schools, they share the same philosophy. Tattoos are found among soldiers and legionaries. Each time, there is this image of adventure, travel that we will immortalize in this way in the twentieth century, in the 1930s.