By AZIZI AHMAD
MALAYSIA Baru is going to be well known as ‘the state of controversies’.
Anything put will again and again be commented with controversies, the latest was on ‘tattoos’.
In all the years Malaysia is known as a country with diverse cultures and diverse people and we are so ;proud’ telling others about this and yet we ‘happy’ to tell others that we are people of un-seeming feelings between each others.
Body tattoos are, in fact, part and parcel of the indigenous East Malaysian culture.
Traditional Iban tattooing practice is deeply associated with headhunting and is synonymous with the coming-of-age ceremony for men, also known as bejalai.
Some of these indigenous tribes are also proudly showing their tattoos “semi-naked”, within and outside of their respective communities.
In Iban tradition, tattoos mean much more than aesthetic purpose such as to signify outstanding skills and should be highly respected and the motifs are in simple lines.(Nata Linggi, 2019)
Tattoo is a type of body modification known for thousands of years.
To create it, people insert ink into the dermis layer of the skin which changes color of the skin pigment and stays there for a long time.
People tattoo themselves for many different reasons.
Practice of tattooing (a process of applying a tattoo on a skin) is very old.
Oldest found evidence that people tattooed each other dates from Neolithic times.
Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved natural mummy from the 4th millennium BC found in the Ötz valley in the Alps, has carbon tattoos in the shape of dots and lines.
Mummy of Amunet from ancient Egypt and the mummies at Pazyryk on the Ukok Plateau in southwestern Siberia also have tattoos on them.
There is also evidence that Pre-Christian Germanic, Celtic and other tribes from central and northern Europe also had tradition of tattooing.
The Picts, peoples who lived in eastern and northern Scotland, were famous for their black and blue tattoos.
While other considered tattoos marks of pride, other saw them as barbaric.
Ancient Chinese used to tattoo a symbol for “Prisoner” on the faces on convicted criminals and continued to do so until18th or 19th century.
That didn’t prevented tattooing to spread and create meaning of its own.
Other civilizations also invented tattooing probably independently.
Peoples of Philippines used tattooing as a marking of rank and accomplishment.
In Egypt tattoos were mainly worn by women and these tattoos represented class, religious devotion they were worn as a method of healing, and as a form of punishment.
Tattoo waned in Europe under Christianity because it considered tattooing barbaric but it never disappeared completely.
When the oceanic voyages and imperial conquests began in 16th century, travelers often brought home tattooed natives from the land they visited.
Tattooing, in the Old World and Americas, became popular among sailors and they were methods of self-expression as much as method of identification (in life as well as in death).
By the 19th century, tattooing was popular among commoners and crowned heads alike.
Ever since they left their ancient and tribal settings and have become a part of modern culture, tattoos have been fascinating and puzzling onlookers.
If you have never seriously considered getting a tattoo, you might be wondering just what motivates people to get something so permanent etched onto the skin and to put up with the pain that comes with it.
Maybe the reasons why people get tattoos are as mentioned below:
Tattooing is an ancient practice. The Maori, for instance, use traditional tattoos as social markers rather than mere fashion statements.
The tattoo marks them as members of a particular family or tribe and identifies where they stand in the social structure.
In some cases, the tattoos have no history as part of a long-established culture but still serve as a marker of affiliation to a subculture.
Having these permanent symbols can also bolster their sense of pride and belonging to these groups.
Some find that the permanence of a tattoo or even its conspicuousness makes them ideal for marking something of personal significance.
Many will also tattoo a slogan, motto, or as “memento mori” .
Many people are drawn to tattoos simply because of their beauty or because they look cool.
There’s something about tattoos that can really make someone stand out in a crowd.
For some people, that is their biggest appeal. They feel like their own person and want a way to display that.
People often get tattoos to defy cultural norms, family expectations, or push the envelope in professional settings.
Getting tattoos might be a way to push back against this perception and make a statement about her opposition to it.
Sometimes, tattoos are used partly for cosmetic reasons. They can cover over or even incorporate certain imperfections in the skin to make them less prominent and visible.
Tattoos can be used by people who want to mask just about anything from stretch marks and scars to beauty marks and discoloration.
Getting a tattoo is a unique experience. Some people get tattoos precisely because they want those sensations.
Although it was associated with lower classes in the 20th century it became mainstream again in the Western world in 1970s and is today common among both sexes, across all economic classes, and people of all ages tattoo themselves.
There are tattoo parlors which tattoo people professionally and with great skill and people today wear tattoos that often tell much about them or are there as a memento of things they want to remember.
Deciding to permanently modify your body is an intensely personal act.
Even when it’s done for traditional reasons, it’s still a conscious individual decision to live up to cultural standards. Because of this, there is no singular reason people get tattooed.
AZIZI Ahmad merupakan seorang pendidik kanan di Institut Perguruan Guru Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa (IPGKBA), Kuala Lumpur. Beliau yang berkelulusan Sarjana Muda Sains (Brunel University, United Kingdom) dan Sarjana Pendidikan (UTM, Skudai) mempunyai pengalaman kerja selama lebih 30 tahun.