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Tattoos, they’re everywhere, on young people, old people; even dogs are being tattooed. Nowadays they’re an expression of individuality or vanity, and in many countries the tattoo has a significance for criminals and their gangs. 

The first ‘tataus’ were recorded by Captain James Cook when he visited Tahiti as the first European. After that, sailors usually tattooed each other using a gunpowder-urine mix for ink.

Centuries ago there was a meaning in your tattoo:

  • Turtle or King Neptune: you had crossed the Equator

  • Swallow: help to find your way home

  • Dragon: you had sailed to China

  • Golden Dragon: you had crossed the International Date Line 

  • Fully-rigged ship: you had rounded Cape Horn

  • Compass rose: indicated your way home (note: this doesn't work)

  • Celtic Infinity Knot: symbol of the affection between a sailor and his beloved

  • Shark: to protect you against being eaten (note: this also doesn't work)

Or your rank, job

  • Anchor: you were a boatswain (bosun)

  • Rope around the wrist: you were a deckhand

  • Harpoon: a deep-sea fisherman

Some sailors had a tattoo for every port visited. Many drowned sailors were later identified by their tattoo. 

Photos courtesy Tattoo Studio Business

QUIZ  What is tattooed on Popeye's arm? Click <READ MORE> If you were correct then award yourself a tin of spinach. 😁

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