Sunday, 24 January 2010

Going tribal

Tattoo history is always fascinating. One can keep researching and researching and still come across fascinating rabbit-hole like facts. For instance, yesterday I came across this website which homes some fantastic examples of Berber tattoos and the reasons why women have them (beautification, tribal reconnaissance, protection ect....).

Berbers are the original natives of northern Africa (Tamazgha). There are Berbers in Egypt, in Morocco, in Mali, in Niger, in Burkina Faso, in Libya in Tunisia, in Mauritania.

Before Berber women got ID cards they used to tattoo their forehead to mark their tribe, and to tattoo their chins to mark if they were married or divorced and how many children they had.

 “A scorpion may sting a woman as many times as she has tattoos, but God will be merciful if she donates an amount of money equal to the cost of covering her tattoos to the poor,” Old Berber saying.

Research by Susan Searight indicates that in certain North African regions, especially in the Rif and Atlas mountains, more than half the female tribe members are tattooed. Until recently, a Berber man would refuse to marry an untattooed woman.

My grandmother, a tribal woman herself, had a tattooed face and hands. When meeting with my dad yesterday, I asked him if he could remember what the specific design for the clan was and he drew this really bad star on a napkin in the pub. I think I will try and trace the original one and get it tattooed on my hand. I also want to add a vintage swallow tattoo, with a distinctive art deco outline, to my back.
In times of needs, there is nothing like a talisman tattoo to keep you going.

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