Are tattoos tradition or taboo?   Not that long ago tattoos were connected primarily to the military or hard core rebelliousness. While opinions on the resurgent popularity of tattooing vary; sailors and tattoos have a long and storied history.
      Humankind marking skin was not new when Europeans began exploring the vast oceans; the practice dates to the early Egyptian era, and more recent discoveries propose an even earlier date. (Krcmarik, 2003) An account by Ahmad ibn Fadlan an Arabian diplomat seeing first-hand the Viking culture along the Volga River in the late 10th Century wrote that the men were very rude, dirty, and covered with pictures (Designboom 2009).   Early classical authors mention tattooing in connection with Greeks, Germans, and ancient Britons among others, (Krcmarik, 2003) but the art remained a tribal or localized practice, forgotten by the Europeans, until the age of ocean exploration began in the 18th Century where it was then “Carried by currents of trade and conquest, from port to port ” (Rothstein, 2009, para. 2).
    When Europeans set out to find a shorter route to the Orient Christopher Columbus sailed into what is now known as the Caribbean, and because Columbus’ original logbook was lost, the island where his party first set foot in the New World is still being debated (Shreve 1991), but a fact of history not in debate is that Columbus and his men were met by aboriginal people of the area who called themselves Traino who were described as a handsome people who painted their bodies with earth dyes and adorned themselves with shells and metals with others having what we would call today tattoos. Thinking he had discovered a new route to the Orient and India, these were the people Columbus would later refer to as Indians. (Barreiro, 1990).
      Among the earliest practitioner’s of the art of tattooing and explorers in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean were the Polynesians. These primitive sailors covered thousands of miles of...