Author(s): Maarten Hesselt van Dinter
DoP - 2004 300pp Despite a growing fascination with tattooing among social scientists--and the popularity of tattoos themselves in general--the practice of tattooing has lacked a comprehensive historical record. Until very recently, there was no good context for writing a serious world history of tattooing. This new volume conveys the richness of the history of tattooing from antiquity to the present day. Unlike most other tattoo books that describe one aspect this book conveys the overall picture. It takes you to each of the seven continents with descriptions of their tattoo history and tattoo practices. Thus the book provides the reader with a truly global view of tattooing. It adds new information and new examples and insights that give the reader a new perspective.
The encyclopedic work answers the fascination with tattoos in contemporary society by focusing on the origin and purpose of tattoos in ancient and aboriginal cultures in all parts of the world. In modern society, tattoos are a matter of personal choice and often personal design, whereas in ancient and aboriginal societies, a tattoo was "the tribal variant...generally applied according to custom and associated with taboos and magic." These "variants" are covered in richly-illustrated, anthropological-like chapters on the different areas of the world. Innumerable illustrations include color photographs of tattooed individuals, historical art works showing tattoos, photographs of tattoos being put on, tattooing instruments, and close-ups of tattoos showing their details. With its diversity of captivating visual matter, encyclopedic scope, and informative, general-interest text, "The World of Tattoo" is a leading text on this subject of renewed interest in contemporary life; and it can also be used as a reference for tattooing in particular cultures or particular historical eras.--Midwest Book Review