Written by Joe, July 31st, 2013. Special Tattoo Ideas, Military Tattoo Designs and Meanings
In the same way that happens with religious tattoos or spiritual symbolism, military tattoo designs often have a strong protective amulet or talisman. Many cultures have worn the tattoo as a sort of protection in battle, accompanied by ritual chants and pigments that were believed to have magical or special properties. Shamans, medicine men, priests, and other individuals who are often attributed special powers wore tattoos on their skin. These forms of protection created a symbolic barrier against weapons of enemies. The tattoo thus functioned as a kind of shield or final line of defense. This belief is one force in places like Burma, Thailand, and other parts of the world.
In many primitive cultures the castes of warriors were identified with tattoos and other body markings. A tattoo on identifying a soldier was as uniform as it is today. Greek and Roman historians specifically mention many tribes whose warriors were heavily tattooed, like the “Picts” in the British Isles, the “Thracian”, the “Scythians” and many members of the Germanic tribes. The first explorers of North America claimed that the natives were tattooed, and that the rite of tattoo and body painting were important preparations for battle.
In some cultures, tattoos of an individual were a sort of personal history written on his body, an account of his prowess and courage in battle. Maori is writing their personal military history with tattoos on his body. For a headhunter tribe “Iban”, each head was represented with a special mark on their hands.
For many cultures, being heavily tattooed facilitated the way to the spirit world after death. Sometimes these myths the deceased had to pass a river, or a barrier of some sort. No wonder that this journey into the world of spirits is considered dangerous a journey, or goalkeeping whose mission would be to hinder access to the afterlife. For a tattooed man was much easier to make this journey. Tattoos are regarding important in death as they had been in life.
For other soldiers, military tattoo designs representing a religious affiliation assured that whether they were killed in the battle receive a proper burial to their beliefs.
Any inquiries related to the modern history of military tattoo invariably take us south Pacific in 1768. At this time Captain James Cook commanded the first expedition aboard the ship “Endeavor”. Cook and his crew sailed to Tahiti with a contingent of scientists and scholars in order to witness and study an eclipse. Three months later sailed back to Europe, many of them, both officers and ordinary seamen, back with tattoos on his skin, a tradition among sailors that is still practiced today.
Historical documents prior to the voyages of Captain Cook, written by European merchant sailors after their arrival in the islands of Polynesia and amazed witnessing tattoo culture of the South Seas, but there is no record of these early sailors return to home with tattoos as “souvenirs” from his trip.
In the Marquesas Islands Cook found an indigenous tattoo was only used by the warrior caste, and actually served a military purpose. Tattoo was used as camouflage. Guerrero’s body was completely tattooed, but only on one side. Presumably, this was left a free hand to lead a more normal civilian life.
In the early 19th century as tattooed sailors were returning from distant lands, the tattoo gradually became a popular practice in the British navy. It extended even to the Admiralty, who had even own symbols to represent certain ranges. It is rumored that Marshal Earl Roberts had a “Jerusalem Cross” tattooed, and it is believed that it was of the opinion that every officer in the British army should have tattooed the emblem of his regiment. Not only improve the morale of the soldiers, and would be very useful to low identify.
The Prince of Wales was tattooed a “cross of Jerusalem” after visiting holy land in 1862. Later, his sons, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York (later King George V) were tattooed by the Japanese master Hori Chiyo.
Although, the marine tattoos are often performing on board ships often made among them, the phenomenon of tattooing spread giving rise to a business specializing in tattoo parlors ports and British cities of American, one phenomenon that gradually spread around the world.
Many of the first owners of the early tattoo shops were sailors who had left their boats. The famed English artist George Burchett tattoo learned the trade serving the Navy. In the late nineteenth century, according to some sources, it is estimated that 90% of American and British sailors had tattoos.
If the voyages of Captain Cook are considered the source of the reintroduction of the tattoo in the Western world, is due in part to a “cultural amnesia” that has left the vast majority of Europeans ignorant of their own history of tattooing.
The oldest evidence of a tattoo on human skin was found in the Alps in northern Italy, in a body frozen in a glacier for 5300 years. “Ötzi” the Iceman was incredibly well preserved, and carried on their skin 53 different tattoos.
Was he a soldier? Maybe not, but if any of his many tattoos symbolize membership in a clan warrior, origins Military Tattoo takes us near the “Bronze Age”.
Moving forward in time 2500 years, we find the Britons, very fond of inking practice their own skins. Roman historians wrote in his chronicles that the “Picts” used to make their body art plant extract “Isatis tinctoria” (whose pigment is chemically identical to “indigo” blue color current jeans). It is quite likely that the “Picts” usage this dyes to decorate their bodies and some form of carbon-based ink for their tattoos. Current attempts to use the indigo for tattooing resurrecting the method “Picts” so far have failed.
The armies of Julius Caesar testified be horrified to face the “Picts” in battle because they look menacing. Of course, not only the Britons wore their body paintings, but also with mud dirty hair tied in a ponytail, used to go almost entirely naked, and did not hesitate to show his scars. It was clear his intention to intimidate the enemy, body painting certainly helped to make it.
In the sixth century BC Roman Aetius physicist, provides the first historical evidence of military tattoo culture in ancient times. In his “Medicate artist princes”, which defines the term “stigmatism” as “… brands that are made in the face and other body parts. We can see those marks in the hands of the soldiers.”
We also know that tattoos in the Roman era a punitive measure to identify offenders. The Roman army pursued a similar strategy when many of their bodies were composed of mercenaries.
According to the author CP Jones in his article entitled: “Stigmata, tattoo marks in the Greco-Roman”, mercenaries were tattooed so that they could be identified if they deserted.
Whether a warrior or a convict, the tattoo is always has effect of transforming to a person to some degree. When a person gets a tattoo that symbolizes membership in a group, the shared pain acts as an important unifying experience that gives cohesion to the group.
The military tattoo designs does not have as its primary mission to strengthen the spirit of individual members (though obviously is a positive and desirable), is the fighting spirit complete unit assembly that wins the battles, that are the main function of the military tattoo, strengthen this shared spirit.
A high morale has always been distinctive feature victorious armies, belief in a common purpose, trust and the feeling of brotherhood that binds you to your comrades, and your confidence in yourself. The rituals in which you get a distinctive tattoo can be important lessons for young recruits, the ability to endure pain stoically, bloodshed, and a deep sense of belonging to a greater end than you do.
In American soldiers since the days of the Civil War, through the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq, all have earned tattoos as part of their military experience. Today, millions of Americans from serving members of the army reservists and veterans, sport a tattoo as a permanent symbol of the military spirit.
We can also find tattoo regulations related to the army, until recently, was strictly forbidden to wear tattoos on the hands or neck. This has changed recently with a review of the policies of the U.S. Army in an attempt to reflect the current cultural trends, and allowing recruiters to support more young people in the military. Currently it is estimated that three times as many people in the military tattooed than there were in the previous generation of their parents.
In the American army tattoo regulations regarding content extremist, indecent, racist, or sexist anywhere in the body. Just as tattoos that can distract from good military order and discipline, the army has no restriction on percentage of body which can be tattooed. Not so with the United States Coast Guard. The 25% is the limit for certain body parts, like the space between the wrist and elbow, and knee and ankle. And the Marines have recently banned enlist people with arms fully tattooed, which is known as “sleeves”. Therefore members of the Marines who have these tattoos on his arms full veterans are just they are made before the entry into force of the standard.
While many military tattoo designs commemorating a phase of life of a person, other recall particular military operation, often includes the date and the key man. These designs are a historical record of events that can have deadly dark connotations in these tattoos, we see reflected the brutal reality of war, and it is not unusual death-related imagery, including skulls. If we believe that the sad and dark emotions more indelibly mark our character battle then those tattoos are really milestones in our development as human beings.
The tattoo tradition differs in different branches of the North American armed forces, Navy to be the body that adopts more religious images and air force the least.
The anchor is still the favorite motif of the sailors, and is one of the most popular tattoo designs in the world. Usually placed on the forearm and in the same way takes the famous cartoon character “Popeye”. Roosters tattooed on the feet were common motif in the early days of the Navy. They acted as amulets to protect against drowning. Christian Crosses were also popular, in combination with a short list of other nautical motifs such as sailor hats, submarines and periscopes, etc. The images of naked women have always been a subject much appreciated by sailors, but could pose problems if their bosses considered obscene. This could cause the sailor had to make a visit to the tattoo studio to add a skirt to a bikini girl looked. Many sailors also tattooed the boat in which they had served.
U.S. Army members often choose the Eagle as icon to express your love for freedom. The American flag is also very popular, also replica unit emblems, medals, etc… Combined with the ubiquitous “Stars and Stripes”. Many of these tattoos are also tributes to the memory of fallen comrades in act service.
The Marines have traditionally been the first body to reach the beach in time of war, so I always try to carry all the help they can get in the form of talismans, amulets and anything else they create can they be protected. The “bull-dog” is the favorite symbol of the Marines, is difficult to find a Marine that does not look a tattoo of either the “bull-dog” or other slick designs like camouflage, or own regiment emblem Marines.
The Air Force is the youngest division of the U.S. army. Being new to the barracks, pilots do not have a long tradition of tattooing after them, but that did not stopped at the time of adopting the characteristic symbol of power and freedom, the “bald eagle”. This American national symbol represents the domain width pilots on blue sky. The wings are also a popular motif among pilots, and some models of aircraft, for example the legendary “P-51 Mustang” are very appropriate designs if you flew during World War II.
Tattoos of the “Union Jack” have always been popular among members of the British army, regiments also emblems and portraits of the royal family have tattooed for over a century. During World War Tattoos “bull-dog” English, and even the portraits of Winston Churchill were very popular.
Many of these tattoos were often colorful and cartoony, conveying the message that one is proud to have been part of the army, and happy to have devoted a chapter of his life to the military.
And when you think that military tattoos are just skulls, death, bombs, knives, daggers and other weapons screams proclaiming sexism within the military class; we must not forget that two of the most popular tattoos are undeniable sentimental roots.
The tattoo shows a heart with a band with the inscription “mama” or “mother” is a powerful reminder to young soldiers families left behind and the reason that drives them to serve and protect his nation. Other tattoos “sentimental” are those who honor the memory and are dedicated to the friends and comrades who fell in the battle field and never return home. These military tattoo designs are also carried in the heart.
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