You wear your ink with pride. That gives you something in common with Ozi. He is the world’s oldest mummy, and he sports some impressive tats. Ozi is surely here in spirit as we mark Tattoo Day on the calendar this July 17.
Historians chalk up Ozi’s tattoos to an expression of religion or social status. He dates back to approximately 3300 B.C., and we don’t have any of his friends available for comparison. Ozi truly is one of a kind. That’s a good description of our attitude towards ink on skin.
A tat can celebrate a special event. It can be something done on a whim. Those dedicated to body art might call it an addiction. We mark ourselves for personal reasons. The results are as unique as every shade of ink under the sun.
James Cook’s 1769 Tahiti visit seems to be the tat’s first run-in with Continental sensibilities. So let’s give the explorer a little credit. The Polynesians’ unusual art form quickly migrated to England and Europe. By the 1870s, tattoo parlors crossed the pond to New York City.
It took another 100 years for those who love tats to see an honest appreciation of the passion. There have been highlights such as the 1979 inaugural National Tattoo Association Convention in Denver, and cultural oddities like the 1999 debut of Mattel’s Butterfly Art Barbie. Overall, we have finally come to admire tattoos as a unique form of creativity.
It’s about time. We didn’t start celebrating Tattoo Day on July 17 until 2016, and no one individual is given credit for making it official. It might have originated as a hashtag. Perhaps it was crowdsourced. What counts today is simply this: Tattoos count in a positive way. We imagine Ozi is just as proud of that as we are.