The tattoo has always been balancing on the brink of ban and most of its history has been the lot of people who were outlawed. In this article, we will not talk about boring and understandable restrictions like age and medical requirements. Here we will consider the prohibitions in five different countries that somehow influenced the very essence and culture of the tattoo and regulated it.
Tattoo was prohibited from 1961 to 1996.
The most famous story about the prohibition of tattoos is connected with New York. The story is absurd at the same time – in one of the main centers of development of tattooing, where the drawings on the skin have already filled a good hundred years, tattoos have been banned by the Ministry of Health. The ministers decided that the tattoo artists were guilty of spreading the hepatitis among the population and forbade them to fill pictures on the skin.
The history of the tattoo, of course, did not end there, but only went underground. Rock’n’Roll, and then MTV, in every possible way, propagandized forbidden art. The cars buzzed in secret cellars, although the main activists were arrested, for example, Spider Webb, who pointedly tattooed pornstar Annie Sprinkle on the steps of MoMA. Despite all prohibitions, in 1985 the street convention of tattooists took place, among which there were 50 masters with a densely painted schedule by that year, and by the beginning of the nineties there were even more of them. In the 90’s, the tattoo culture in the US was about the same as what we have today – it has become a mainstream. It was simply impossible to forbid this further and the law was abolished in 1996.
Tattooing was prohibited from 1936 to 1950.
The Japanese history of tattoos dates back thousands of years, but in the form in which it is familiar to us – complex and large-scale color images – it was formed by the 18th century. At the same time the tattoo was outlawed for a long time and almost every hundred years a new bill on this topic was published. Up to the 16th century, tattoos were forcibly labeled by criminals, and they already clamped these labels in clandestine drawings. Paradoxically, the flowering of illegal art was influenced by another veto – the ban of the XVII century on richly decorated clothes for uncrowned individuals, which resulted in the middle class having to decorate their body instead of clothes.
By the end of the XIX century, the ban on tattooing became tougher – and not only in connection with criminals. Japan began to visit many Europeans, and the emperor was afraid that tattooed people in their eyes would look wild. At the same time, some tattoo parlors continued to work officially, but they could only accept foreigners. In 1936, tattoos were banned once again – they did not want to take criminals into the army, and people with tattoos because of this – too, so to avoid wasting time and not figuring out who the yakuza was, and who was a decent person, they were forbidden to stuff tattoos. From that moment the tattoo artists went underground. Despite the abolition of the ban in the 50’s, today the masters continue to work semi-secretly. Official laws prohibiting their activities seem to be not, but this activity is not approved, and especially its result. People with tattoos are often not allowed into gyms and swimming pools, and some organizations may even deprive a person of work.
it was forbidden since 1996.
Denmark for many years remained one of the main centers of tattooing – there they did it already at least from the 1890s, and for at least a hundred years it was in this issue the main Scandinavian country. Among other things, Denmark is the place where Tatu Ole, one of the oldest tattoo studios in the world, works. The studio is owned by the famous tattoo artist, who filled the drawing with King Frederick IX of the country. After in 1951, the king was photographed with a tattoo on his chest, the art received an unofficial legality, but the official law permitting drawing on the body was never adopted.
Since 1996, it is forbidden in Denmark to do tattoos on visible parts of the body: face and head, neck, wrists and hands. Solve these problems tattooers in different ways: someone pays fines of 1000 kronor (131 dollars), someone like the famous Colin Dale, skates to neighboring Sweden or Finland, so as not to violate the law. Another law came out relatively recently – in 2010 – and is associated with a ban on former prisoners making biker tattoos or tattoos with the symbols of immigrant gangs in visible places – this time including arms and shoulders.
Symbols of the Third Reich are forbidden for tattoing.
The prohibition of tattoos in Germany is connected with the most painful issue for the history of the country – the Third Reich. The taboo symbols include swastika, SS runes, Celtic cross, skulls, eagle – and in a known modification. Swastikas in religious variations of Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions are allowed, since religious symbols can not be tabooed in Germany.
There are a lot of stories on this subject – a young man on the beach between Berlin and Hanover undressed and received for his swastika a year of conditional term. In court, the guy claimed that he was sticking his tattoo with a band-aid, but the band-aid was not very strong – to which the court representative objected to him that the one who has such a tattoo has no right to go naked. In this statement, by the way, the whole essence of the ban on tattoos with this symbolism: no one forbids to stuff or put on such images, but such tattoos are forbidden to show. Another no less famous story is with a doctor who during the operation saw a forbidden symbol on the patient and left the operating room. His work was continued by another surgeon.
The third story, which illustrates all the nuances of this regulation – about the Russian opera singer Eugene Nikitin, who had to give up his speech, because in his youth he had a tattoo with a swastika. The nuance is that the swastika has long been interrupted by another drawing, and it actually does not exist anymore. With all due respect and sympathy for the tragedy of the nation, this attitude is somewhat reminiscent of mass hysteria and individual tattooists are trying to fight it. Noteworthy in this respect is Mark Little Swastika – not only did he put himself that word, which can not be called, in the name of the studio, so he tries to weave this symbol into each of his tattoos, trying to clear it of negative connotations.
Tattoo forbidden since 2011 for military servicemen.
India until recently illustrated the other extreme – there has never been, and to date, there are no laws that regulate the work of a tattoo artist. Terrible stories about masters who have worked all their lives with a single needle can be heard as an example in defense of legal restrictions. In fact, where even in 2013 you can meet doctors talking about the fact that tattooists infect the population with hepatitis (recall, in the US doctors were concerned about this fact 50 years ago). With all this, the context of tattooing in India is very interesting: if around the world this is a bit yes marginal art, then here is the absolute mainstream.
On the one hand, there are god-forgotten villages where ancient tattooing traditions continue to thrive to this day – including tattooing of minors; on the other hand, all Bollywood is covered with tattoos – Indian actor Sanjay Dutt, for example, has them already 16 pieces, and what’s most interesting, most of them made after 40 years. Tattoos are often perceived as attributes of the luxurious life of movie stars and therefore are not cheap. In official institutions, a tattoo can cost up to 2,000 lakhs (about 2,500 dollars), while in illegal institutions it will cost a hundred times cheaper – $ 25 dollars. Well, probably, it is not necessary to explain that it is in the latter that the needles change rarely. The first reaction of the authorities to the situation was the law adopted in August 2011 that individuals with tattoos on the body can not enter the military service – which again is associated with a massive concern about hepatitis and similar diseases that the soldier may show after long years of service.