Sketchy and provocative photos of people whose bodies are obscured by tattoos are an international curiosity. These images were often the result of a desperate desire to share the body art of one’s cultural heritage in a way that was not too different from what someone at a fashion show might do.
For many Chinese people the idea of expressing themselves via body art is not only a challenge. It is a form of oppression. The traditional Chinese tattooing tradition is based on spiritual worship, and involves a great deal of sacred image work.
A well known Chinese tattoo artist once said that “if I didn’t think that this was important, I wouldn’t have done it.”
One of the main arguments often made in favor of tattooing is that it is a form of expression. For many, it is a form of self-expression, and not only a form of “expression of a part of oneself.”
For decades Chinese tattooing has been associated with religious symbolism and spirituality. A tattoo might be a religious symbol, but there is a reason why it cannot be understood without first understanding the beliefs and practices associated with the tattoo of the community that made this symbol.
The concept of tattooing has also been used in Chinese philosophy to define the concepts of the Tao. Tattooing is a Taoist practice that is a reflection of its spiritual tradition and a form of cultural identity.
In his book The Art of China’s Tattoo Artists (1952), Chinese author and artist Chang Ching said “An artist who doesn’t believe in Tattoo is a fool, while an artist who doesn’t believe in Tao is a monkey”.
The Taoist practice of tattooing has been part of the Chinese identity since ancient times. Many of the most famous tattooists in China are in fact Buddhist monks.
The fact that tattooing was in use from at least the Bronze Age to 1300 AD is a mystery. The main theories that people have come up with regarding the meaning of the tattoo can be summed up in three categories:
1) Tattoo represents one’s self.
2) Tattoo represents one’s mother or father.
3) Tattoo signifies someone with a specific disease.
The first claim is based on the idea that the Tao was about self-expression.
Chinese Buddhists believe that it is important to have one’s innermost essence felt. Tattoo art is a way of expressing the thoughts that are in the mind. Chinese Buddhists have
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