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Social discourse is spoken or written communication or debate that involves a specific historical and social aspect. The definition of discourse is extensive. The word "discourse" refers to almost every way through which humans communicate with each other. A social type of discourse is communication that has a societal intent, or some kind of definitive social aspect. When understanding this definition, it is easy to see why tattooing can be seen as a symbolic form of social discourse since it has been the means for humans to communicate belonging and other akin meanings within a social commune.

The word 'tattoo' or 'tattow' is a loanword from the Polynesian word 'tatau', meaning "correct, workmanlike". Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing was described in the West as pricking, painting, or staining. Tattooing has been practiced for centuries in many cultures and spread throughout the world eventually. The Ainu, a primitive group of Japan, traditionally had facial tattoos, as did the Austroasians. Tattooing was popular among certain ethnic groups in southern China, Africa, Borneo, Cambodia, Europe, Japan, North America and South America, the Philippines, Iron Age Britain, and Taiwan, etc. Tattoos made on mummies 2500 years old have been found in Pazyryk, Russia.

The history of tattooing explains how the connotations and functions of aesthetic-cultural practices cross social boundaries. Tattooing has undergone several voyages. It has traversed every continent, cut across class and gender lines, and drifted between high and low cultural environments. Tattoos were initially used in the early centuries as a symbol of bravery and belonging to the tribe. It then veered towards the symbol of exoticism for the leisure classes at the turn of the twentieth century; a source of pride and patriotism for military men serving in World War I and II; and a mark of differentiation and affiliation for other socially and self-proclaimed deviants for over a hundred years.

It is a fable that the modern resurgence of tattooing stems from Captain Cook's three voyages to the South Pacific in the late 1700s. Certainly, Cook's voyages and the promulgation of the texts and images from them brought more knowledge about tattooing. Tattoos, once believed to be a risky trend, is now becoming more of the norm. Usage of the terms 'skin art', 'tattoo art', 'pieces', and 'work' is gaining greater support and popularity with mainstream art galleries holding exhibitions of both conventional and custom tattoo designs. Tattoo enthusiasts may refer to tattoos as ink, pieces, skin art, tattoo art, etc; to the creators as tattoo artists or tattooers and to places where they work as tattoo shops or tattoo parlours.

The ancient art of tattooing has become quite popular among the Gen-x. The art has become popular enough to make people take it up as a hobby. The thrill of creating new designs makes the art a novelty as when it was first started.

Hobbylancer and You

At Hobbylancer, get in touch with other tattoo artists, organise exhibitions and learn more about the art and share creative concepts with other tattoo enthusiasts. Create your own innovative designs, connect with clients, find tattoo artists and flaunt your individuality and uniqueness.

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