These days you can see lot many people getting inked. Not just once or twice; some go to the extent of undergoing body modification either in the form of tattoos or piercings time and again. Few have entered the Guinness Book Of World record for being the most tattooed person.
I won’t be wrong in saying that the tattoo craze is on full swing now a days. But then, if you think getting inked started just a few years back and is the latest buzz then you are mistaken. In the ancient past too people used to get tattooed though not as commonly as today.
Tattoo is now generally accepted as a part of our culture, but long ago tattoos were the domain of very specific groups of people. Prisoners around the world have been tattooing themselves for a very long time. The tattoo designs, style, ways of tattooing indeed were quite different from those prevalent today.
The tattoo designs in those days were far simpler than today. Instead of the needle, the prisoners used crude implements and created designs on their skin that were punctured using razor blades, broken glass, paper clips, wires and similar stuff.
The practice of creating and displaying tattoos in a prison environment to portray gang membership, used as a form of code with hidden meanings and much more due to the lack of proper equipment and sterile environments in prison posed health risks. Today, for colorful tattoos, inks are used but in the past instead of ink the colors were created using pencil refills, charcoal, water color paints and crayons which were mixed with water, fat or urine.
The story doesn’t end here, do you all know that the when these prisoners died, their tattooed skin was cut down and preserved. With the aim of deciphering the code among prisoners known as a ‘pattern language’, the tattoos were started being taken and preserved. The tattoos were collected from the prisoners and from the deceased on whom autopsies were performed to become the part of the tattoo collection at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.
In the 1970s, the CSI Department of Militia Headquarters in Warsaw published a special document for prosecution agencies in which they analyzed 2300 tattoos. For over four years, researchers did the study and a catalogue that described the meanings behind certain tattoos was created.
Wish to take a look at the tattooed skins of the prisoners which till date is preserved? Here, I have jotted down some preserved tattooed skins of the prisoners of the 20th century which are genuinely worth a glance.