Free Essay. Stick and Poke Method in Ancient Tattoos From Different Regions

Published: 2023-04-10
Free Essay. Stick and Poke Method in Ancient Tattoos From Different Regions
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Inspiration Human
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1533 words
13 min read

A tattoo is defined as a mark made on the body of an individual, through the process of making designs on the skin by inserting indelible designs. Tattooing is a culture among human beings of various communities around the world . Paleontological evidence proves the existence of the culture of tattooing in the ancient periods. This essay discusses the stick-and-poke tattoos in ancient tattoos from different regions. The stick-and-poke tattoos are primitive forms of tattoos that do not involve the use of electrical design tools. It can be done through the direct application of ink on the area of the body and design using a needle-like gadget. Study on ancient cultures, through the examination of fossils and geological records, shows the existence of stick-and-poke tattooing among several communities.

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The Otzi Man tattoos

Otzi man also named the iceman is a mummy discovered to have been well-preserved by nature for hundreds of years. Geologists estimate that Otzi man lived between 3400 and 3100 BC and was discovered in the year 1991 by German tourists. The mummy is the only one of its kind found within Europe and a study has revealed several aspects of his culture. The mummy was discovered to have at least 61 primitive tattoos that had been preserved by the glaciers. The characteristics of the tattoos were 19 black lines that ran as a group with a 3mm thickness. The parallel lines along the longitudinal axis were measured and discovered to be 7mm long. Otzi man had a cruciform tattoo at the ankle and behind the knee. In addition to that, there were lines that ran parallel around the wrist of his left hand.He also exhibited a group of markings on his legs, making it 12 clusters of markings.

An examination of Otzi's bones through radiology revealed strains either caused by age or induced. The strains corresponded to the areas with the tattoos especially along the lines and at the point place with the cross tattoo. It has been confirmed that Otzi is the oldest mummy of a human being to ever get tattooed.

The Egyptian and Nubian Tattoos

The Egyptians were skilled in ensuring that their loved ones had a perfect afterlife through the preservation of their remains. The 2nd dynasty was characterized by mummification as a status symbol. The creation of sophisticated tombs and proper embalming led to the preservation of remains to date. The remains played an important role in discovering the way of life of the Egyptians during 200 BC after infrared imaging revealed tattoos. The tattoos on the mummified corpses of women that had not been subjected to studies before showed that ink had been poured systematically on their bodies with an array of different themes. An anthropologist based at the University of Missouri remarked that the discovery is evidence that the ancient Egyptian society practiced primitive tattooing. As the research on the topic continued, anthropologists discovered markings on the neck of one mummy of Deir-el-medina. The marks were later confirmed to be tattoos

The tattoos had not been discovered for many years because of the old age of the mummies, which cause discoloring. Infrared imaging is useful because it uses wavelengths to detect patterns invisible to the human eye. Closer to the Egyptians were the Nubians who shared a lot of heritage with the Egyptians. Their tombs have been found to have mummies dating back to a hundred years ago with tattoos. The tattoos have been found strictly on women.The Nubian tattoos were made up of dots, circles and lines, that drew a geometric pattern. The tattoo crossed the Arm, thighs and wrists. The cemeteries with tattooed Nubian mummies are the Kuban and Hierakonpolis. The Polynesian tattoos are diverse because of the nature of the Polynesian tribes, which incorporated Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, Hawaiians and the Maori. They are major components of the indigenous people from South Asia.

The Polynesian Tattoos

The origin of Polynesian tattoos is rooted to the culture and was a way of communicating through complex signs to show personality and identity. The time before, tattoos were used as symbols of societal influences, sexual maturity and the genealogy of the person. It was a compulsory custom in the Polynesian society to be tattooed. An exploration on the Polynesian islands by archeologists and explorers discovered that there was a dominant art of using needles on skins to draw art and convey a massage. The name tattoo was first used to describe the process by James cook in the year 1771. Polynesian tattooing existed for 200 years.The old testament in the 18th century warned against the behavior and banned the procedure. The needles being used, were not sterilized, hence a ban on the procedure by the government too

Culture and Material

Materials and uses

The major materials that were discovered to have been used have been discovered to be fireplace soot and carbon. The black lines on the hands of the iceman reveal that a sharp needle-like object had been used in the process. It has been speculated that it was more of a medicinal procedure on the man.

The process of stick-and-pole tattoo

In all the examples provided, evidence of implant of tattoos using the stick- and poke method are available. It majorly involved the use of a needle which had a thread with a pigment that was being used as the design..A thread coated with a pigment was sewed on the skin of the person needing the tattoo. The dots and lines for example on the Nubian mummies must have probably had their tattoos using this method. The other route in which the tattoos must have been administered was through the application of the design pigments on wounds and punctured skins.

From the observation of the tattoos on the bodies of the mommies, it was possible that the tools which were used during the tattooing procedure were either thorns from acacia trees, bones from fish, and even bronze needles. The tattoos of the iceman reveal the use of a more complex use of Cooper during his age. The fact that the iceman had with him a copper axe, and knives with ash handles. The culture during that time tolerated hunting for men, with more advanced tools made of cooper. The culture of the iceman must have been largely made up of violence. The Iceman is believed to have been killed after being shot on the shoulder by an arrow. Another assumption is that his tattoos might have been as a result of his role as a sacrifice for certain chiefs.

The presence of carbon content on the tattoos of the iceman indicates that the pigment used on his tattoos was soot. Soot had medicinal purposes and in the prevention of infections

The tattoos on the Egyptians are speculated by the Egyptologists to had erotic or fertility symbols because it was only women that had them. The design of a wild bull on the thighs was a sign of male fertility . Ancient historical sources indicate that a man with a tattoo of a bull indicated that the man had been killed by stabbing. Woman's tattoos might have had ceremonial meanings. The tattoos placed on the neck might have been an attempt to place the amulets with a person forever instead of the person having to wear them always. Although it is difficult to know the person who used to draw the tattoos, it is evident that there was an expert who was responsible in drawing the tattoos because it was impossible for a person to use needles on the sensitive parts of their bodies, such as the neck and the back of their knees.


In conclusion, the Stick and Poke Method in Ancient Tattoos from Different Regions of the world was diverse and displayed various aspects of culture. Some were for medicinal purposes, while others defined the social status of the person being tattooed. The aspects of culture revealed by the tattoos are important in confirming the written history of the particular groups. An example is the tattoos on the necks of Nubian and Egyptian mummies, which reveal a reverence for gods and their roles in ancient Egypt.


Gell, Alfred. Wrapping in images: tattooing in Polynesia. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Pabst, Maria Anna, Ilse Letofsky-Papst, Elisabeth Bock, Maximilian Moser, Leopold Dorfer, E. Egarter-Vigl, and Ferdinand Hofer. "The tattoos of the Tyrolean Iceman: a light microscopical, ultrastructural and element analytical study." Journal of Archaeological Science 36, no. 10 (2009): 2335-2341.

Samadelli, Marco, Marcello Melis, Matteo Miccoli, Eduard Egarter Vigl, and Albert R. Zink. "Complete mapping of the tattoos of the 5300-year-old Tyrolean Iceman." Journal of Cultural Heritage 16, no. 5 (2015): 753-758.

Wingate, Douglas S. "Tattooing as a Method of Acupoint Stimulation and Potential Therapeutic Intervention."

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