Tattoo facts

Lucky Diamond Rich of New Zealand is the most tattooed person in the world, and after running out of space, has started putting lighter tattoos on top of the darker ones, and vice versa.

The first recorded tattoo is believed to have been found on a mummified iceman in 3300 BC. He had 58 tattoos, mostly dots and lines.

In 1876 Thomas Edison invented a machine that ultimately became the tattoo machine, but it took modifications by Samuel O'Reilly in 1891 to adapt the device for tattooing.

The record for the longest tattoo session is 43 hours and 50 minutes and was completed by the very observant and talented artist Melanie Grieveson, of Australia. The tattooed was Stephen Grady.

Thomas Edison had five dots tattooed on his left forearm, similar to the dots on dice.

The second most common reason for tattoo removal is mistranslation.

11th U.S. President James Polk is said to be the first white man to have a Chinese character as a tattoo.

Blues singer Janis Joplin had a wristlet tattoo and a small heart on her left breast.

The traditional Samoan tattoo, pe'a, covering the body from mid torso to the knees, takes 3 months to complete and up to 1 year to fully heal. A typical session lasts from dawn till dusk, or until the pain becomes too great, and resumes the next day unless the skin needs a few days to heal. 

More women than men are getting tattooed today.

In a 2002 survey, 8 of the top 10 voted, "most beautiful people in the world" had tattoos.

The first occurrence of the word tattoo in the Oxford English Dictionary came in 1769 and is credited to Captain John Cook.

A rooster tattooed on one leg and a pig on the other is said to protect a sailor from drowning. Neither animal can swim.

Queen Kamamalu of Hawaii (1808-1824) was the first woman to have her tongue tattooed.

73 year old Isobel Valley, the world's most tattooed women, has every square inch of her body tattooed, except her face, and also has fifty piercings, 15 of which are visible. The majority of the piercings are below the belt because she wants to jingle when she walks, she says.

When Cortez landed on the Mexican coast in 1519 he was horrified to find the natives practicing devil worshipping and had somehow permanently marked images of their idols on their skin. He called it the work of the devil.

A tattoo of an anchor on a sailor indicates they have sailed across the Atlantic.

Tattoo ink is injected into the second layer of the skin, the dermis, and become encapsulate by the body as a defence mechanism, leaving the image stable and intact.

In the 1920's, American circuses employed more than 300 people with full body tattoos and paid them up to $200 a week, a lot of money during those times

Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, had a tattoo of a snake on her wrist. They were popular for rich aristocrats during that period. She chose a snake because it could be easily covered by a bracelet.

The popularity of tattooing during the latter part of the nineteenth century and first part of the twentieth century owed much to the circus sideshow.

Ancient Egyptians used tattoos to differentiate between slaves and peasants.

During the late 18th century in Europe, collecting the tattooed heads of Maori people became so popular that many were murdered to meet the demand. The heads were commonly paid for in guns.

In the 1870s the Japanese government outlawed tattoos forcing the practice underground where it flourished.

The world's most tattooed women, Isobel Varley got her first tattoo, a flower, at age 49.

Tattoo machines can make upwards of 200 hits per second, that's up to 12,000 times a minute and 720,000 an hour.

In ancient Greece and Rome, tattoos were considered barbaric and were only used to mark slaves and criminals.

The US Navy prohibited tattoos of naked women during World War II, so many future sailors had to get their tattoos reworked to include cloths.

Apr. 30, 2009. To celebrate Barbie's 50th birthday Mattel comes out with the new "Totally Stlylin' Barbie, complete with a set of place able tattoos, one a lower back tattoo featuring the name Ken.

Never go back to the person who gave you a bad tattoo to have it fixed, it will not get better.

The time to ask questions is before you get a tattoo.

Good tattoos aren't cheap and cheap tattoos aren't good.

The word “tattoo” derives from the Polynesian word “ta” (“to strike”), which describes the sound of a tattooing spike being knocked on skin. The first recorded references to the word “tattoo” is in the papers of Joseph Banks (1743-1820), a naturalist aboard Captain Cook’s ship.

Often misspelled “tatoo”, the word tattoo is one of the most misspelled words in the English language.

Not all skin on the body is the same and, therefore, will not take tattoo pigment the same. For example, tattoos on elbows, knuckles, knees, and feet are infamous for fading.

The first professional tattoo artist in the U.S. was a German immigrant, Martin Hildebrandt, who arrived in Boston in 1846.

To get a tattoo, the skin is pierced between 50 and 3,000 times a minute by a tattoo machine.

A particularly famous tattoo was the naked hula girl who, positioned properly on a biceps, could swing her hips and jiggle her breasts as the owner moved his arm.

The oldest physical body in existence, the Iceman (3300-3200 B.C.) has the oldest tattoos that have ever been preserved. He has a black cross tattooed on the inside of his left knee six straight lines on his lower back, and parallel lines on his ankles, leg, and wrists. When scientists X-rayed his body, they discovered joint disease under each tattoo, which suggests the tattoos were meant to relieve pain.

Archaeologists have discovered tools in France, Portugal, and Scandinavia that were probably used for tattooing. These are at least 12,000 years old, or from the time of the last Ice Age.

Stone sculptures in China from the 3rd century B.C. depict men wearing tattoos on their faces. A few hundred years later, the philosopher Confucius discouraged tattooing because he believed that the human body was a gift from one’s parents and ancestors.

Plato thought that individuals guilty of sacrilege should be forcibly tattooed and banished from the Republic.

In A.D. 787, Pope Hadrian I banned tattooing of any kind, even on criminals or gladiators. From then on, tattooing was virtually unknown in the Christian world until the 19th century. Judaism and Islam also discouraged tattooing.

Animals are the most frequent subject matter of tattooing in many cultures and are traditionally associated with magic, totems, and the desire of the person to become identified with the spirit of the animal.

Polynesian tattooing as it existed before the arrival of Europeans in the South Pacific was the most intricate and skilful tattooing in the ancient world

Pamela Anderson’s barbed wire armband tattoo was so instantly famous that it was largely responsible for the huge rise in popularity of tattoo armbands through the late 90s. Pamela removed her tattoo in 2014.

The most famous of all criminal tattoos are worn by the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. They wear intricate and traditional designs in a full body suit that can be hidden entirely from view by clothes as an inescapable sign of their commitment to their gang.

Samuel O’Reilly invited tattoo machines around the late 19th century. He based his design on the autographic printer, an engraving machine invented by Thomas Edison. They have not changed much since then.

The existing tattoo designs displayed in a tattoo shop are known as “flash.” Clients can chose from flash or request a customized design.

In Japan, tattooing is called irezumi (“to insert”). Japanese tattoo artists have inspired diverse Western tattoo artists, including British “King of the Tattooists” George Burchett, Sailor Jerry Collins, and Don Ed Hardy.

“Old school” tattoos are those typically inspired by Sailor Jerry. They are usually humorous, brightly colored, and nautically inspired. Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins was indeed a sailor before he was an artist and he sailed the world. He was inspired by the art and imagery of the Orient.

Johnny Depp once said “My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story.”

King Harold II of England had several tattoos. His tattoos were used to identify his body after the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

George C. Reiger Jr. has over 1,000 Disney tattoos, including all 101 Dalmatians. He had to receive special permission from Disney because the images are copyrighted.

During the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries tattoos were popular with English and Russian royalties. They were so expensive that common people could not afford them. When tattoos became affordable to the lower classes, they started to be deemed “trashy” until the tattoo renaissance in the mid 20th century

Yobori ("Yo" European tattooing) it’s The Japanese-English slang term for tattooing done with the machine.

Tattooed full-rigged ship shows the seaman has sailed round Cape Horn.

The word 'tattoo' is derived from the Tahitian word 'tatau', meaning to mark.

Tahitians believed that the process of tattooing the body served to contain its sacred power.

Removing a tattoo can cost up to three times more than the design itself.

Early Christians often had the sign of the cross tattooed on their bodies, particularly their face or arms.

A portrait of a tattooed man by Sir Joshua Reynolds sold at auction for £10,343,500 in November 2001. The painting, which was sold by Sothebys in London, depicts Omai (Mae), a tattooed Tahitian man who came to England in 1774.

In the 5th century BC, tattoos were used to transmit secret messages across enemy lines.

Popular tattoo amongst sailors was a shellback turtle that shows the sailor has crossed the Equator.

Sailor tattoos are believed to have special meanings (for example, a dragon meant a person had travelled to China).

Ötzi, the ancient ice man found in the Alps, was the oldest mummy ever discovered to have tattoos.

Olive Oatman was the first white woman in America to have a tattoo; she was given one after her family was killed and she was adopted by Mohave Indians in the 1850s.

2012 was the first year more women were tattooed than men.

Prison tattoo artists use materials such as cd player motors, springs, pens and soot (among other found materials) to create tools and inks for tattooing fellow inmates.

The girl who got 56 stars tattooed on her face and then tried to sue the tattoo artist finally got all of them removed.

Most tattooed Egyptian mummies were female, and the tattoos are believed to belong to “dancing girls,” or royal concubines.

In 1999, Mattel released “Butterfly Art Barbie” that came with a set of temporary tattoos; it was subsequently pulled from shelves because of complaints from parents.


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