A history of body art – Tattoos have never been more popular, and part of the appeal lies in the rich variety of body-art traditions of the past. This portrait shows a heavily tattooed, 19th Century man known as 'the Turk'. He was an act in 'Barnum's', a European traveling circus. His tattoos were in the Burmese style, and he was said to have been kidnapped by the 'barbarians' of Asia and forcibly tattooed.
A history of body art – These engravings of fully-costumed Maoris, from the early 1800s, were made by the English sailor Barnet Burns, who himself received a full facial tattoo. When he returned to England in 1835, he styled himself as a 'New Zealand chief'.
A history of body art – A Maori chief from New Zealand, circa 1950, is pictured bearing the traditional facial tattoos.
A history of body art – A bust displays Maori tattoos, which was made around 1840. It was made by Pierre Marie Dumoutier, perhaps the first scientific participant in a colonial expedition to study physical anthropology.
A history of body art – This native of the Pacific island of Tikopia has rectangular chest tattoos which are thought to have been inspired by flags of passing sailing ships, which were considered symbols of power by indigenous peoples. Dates to 1827.
A history of body art – A Samoan man shows off his traditional 'pe'a', or ritual tattoos that are a marker of manhood.
A history of body art – This photograph, taken by Mark Adams in 1980, captures the bloody and painful process of customary tattoo among Samoan men. It involves excruciating pain, which is said to be the equivalent of childbirth in women.
A history of body art – The pe'a covers the body from waist to the rectum and then to the knees. It is crafted using only handmade tools such as bone, tusks, turtle shell and wood.
A history of body art – The Naga people of Assam, India, only receive their tattoos when enemy flesh has been touched. This was taken in the early 1900s.
A history of body art – This 17th Century tattoo stamp was used to make an imprint of a tattoo on the skin, which was then needled. It was owned by the Razzouk family of Jerusalem, originally of Coptic descent, who have been tattooing pilgrims with Christian iconography for centuries; they continue to do so today. This stamp depicts the resurrection of Christ.
A history of body art – This is a 1920s American tattoo 'flash', or page of design ideas.
A history of body art – Whang-ud, who was 92 years old when this picture was taken in 2012, has been described as the last traditional tattooist in the Philippines. In recent years, enthusiasts and tourists have hiked for hours to reach the remote village in which she practices.
A history of body art – Whang-ud, 92, uses a lemon thorn attached to a wand to make these traditional tattoos.
A history of body art – The impulse to identify with a tribe can also be seen in criminal contexts. A former high-ranking gang member in Cape Town, South Africa, shows off his gangland tattoos. When this picture was taken, in 2007, he had retired and was working as a cleaner and handyman at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town.
A history of body art – Inmates of the Makati City jail, Manila, in 2010, attend Catholic worship. Their tattoos identify them as being members of particular gangs.
A history of body art – In Japan, a rich tradition of body art, known as Irezumi, stretches back to approximately 10,000 BC. Tattooing was banned between 1876-1948, when the art form became associated with criminality and gang culture. But once prohibitions were lifted, tattooists were free once again to work without fear of arrest. Here, a Japanese man is pictured in 1958 with full body tattoos.
A history of body art – To this day, tattoos have never been more popular. They may have lost much of their traditional cultural significance, but are developing a new, boundary-crossing modern culture of their own. Jack Mosher, a tattooist, shows off his lavish body art.
A history of body art – And now celebrity culture of course has played a large role in influencing and popularizing tribal tattoos. Angelina Jolie is pictured with a Buddhist Pali incantation written in Khmer script - a language spoken in Cambodia.
A history of body art – Rihanna is pictured with a traditional Maori tattoo on her right hand. The design allegedly took 11 hours to complete, with only a chisel and mallet used to create the intricate tattoo.