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Tattoo Purposes - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Decorative and spiritual uses


Tattoos have served as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talismans, protection, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. The symbolism and impact of tattoos varies in different places and cultures. Tattoos may show how a person feels about a relative (commonly mother/father or daughter/son) or about an unrelated person.

Tattooing is a tradition among indigenous peoples around the world.
A memorial tattoo of a deceased loved one's initials

Today, people choose to be tattooed for cosmetic, sentimental/memorial, religious, and magical reasons, and to symbolize their belonging to or identification with particular groups, including criminal gangs (see criminal tattoos) but also a particular ethnic group or law-abiding subculture. Some Māori still choose to wear intricate moko on their faces. In Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, the yantra tattoo is used for protection against evil and to increase luck. In the Philippines certain tribal groups believe that tattoos have magical qualities, and help to protect their bearers. Most traditional tattooing in the Philippines is related to the bearer's accomplishments in life or rank in the tribe.

Identification

A Nazi concentration camp identification tattoo

People have also been forcibly tattooed for various reasons. A well known example is the identification system for inmates in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. However, tattoos can be linked with identification in more positive ways. For example, in the period of early contact between the Māori and Europeans, Māori chiefs sometimes drew their moko (facial tattoo) on documents in place of a signature. Tattoos are sometimes used by forensic pathologists to help them identify burned, putrefied, or mutilated bodies. Tattoo pigment is buried deep enough in the skin that even severe burns will often not destroy a tattoo. For many centuries seafarers have undergone tattooing for the purpose of enabling identification after drowning. In this way recovered bodies of such drowned persons could be connected with their family members or friends before burial. Therefore tattooists often worked in ports where potential customers were numerous. The traditional custom continues today in the Royal Navy (Great Britain) and in many others.[citation needed]



Tattoos are also placed on animals, though very rarely for decorative reasons. Pets, show animals, thoroughbred horses and livestock are sometimes tattooed with identification and other marks. Pet dogs and cats are often tattooed with a serial number (usually in the ear, or on the inner thigh) via which their owners can be identified. Also, animals are occasionally tattooed to prevent sunburn (on the nose, for example). Such tattoos are often performed by a veterinarian and in most cases the animals are anesthetized during the process. Branding is used for similar reasons and is often performed without anesthesia, but is different from tattooing as no ink or dye is inserted during the process.


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