The word tattoo is from the Tahitian word tatau (to mark) and the Polynesian word ta (to strike). The first written account of this form of modification was made by Joseph Banks, who sailed with Captain Cook in 1769, and who wrote in his journal, "I shall now mention the way they mark themselves indelibly, each of them is so marked by their humor or disposition." Tattooing takes place on all continents across the world and the wearers of this body art cross the gender, racial, culture, and class lines.
Discoveries have been made that show that tattooing is an ancient art form. `Otzi the Ice Man' made international news in 1991 when his 5000 year old frozen corpse was discovered. On the well preserved body were 57 tattoos. Mummies were found in Siberia that date around 2400 years ago, and tattoos that represents animals and monsters were present on the bodies. In Egypt, a body of a priestess who lived between 2160 BC and 1994 BC had several tattoos of abstract designs on her body.
European sailors who had been to the Polynesian Islands in 1787 not only brought back stories of the tataued island people, at times, they brought back tattooed Polynesians as an exhibit. This was the introduction of tattoos to the Western world, and a number of sailors during this time were the first group to display their own Ink. Anchors, ships and mermaids were the most popular designs for sailors during the 18th century. It was in 1908, in New York City, that the first tattoo parlor in America was established and during the 1990s Ink became more mainstream on a global basis.
Humans have been interested in body modification for an inordinate length of time, and the meanings behind the tattoos are as varied as the people who have them. Whether done as a sign of love, religious belief, status symbol, or punishment, tattooing remains a popular form of body art.