The most ancient and widely employed form of permanent body alteration is tattooing. Archeological eVidence indicates that tattooing was probably practiced among peoples living during the late Stone Age.
The ancient tribal groups inhabiting the British Isles practiced extensive tattооing. The Picts were named for the iron implements they used to create tattoo designs; the term "Briton" is derived from a Breton word meaning "painted in various colors".
Since the mid-nineteenth century western tattooing was practiced entirely outSide the institutional constraints of a professional art world. Tattoo images tended to be relatively crude and highly conventionalized with death symbols
The social relationship that develops between the tattooist and his or her client is of primary importance.
Tattooists, as we have seen, are drawn to the occupational activity by the independence, creativity, and income it offers. Depending upon the tattooist's orientation to tattooing, the occupational rewards of reliable income and creative opportunity are weighted differentially.
Because direct interaction with a client is central to service work, this relationship is, as discussed above, a major source of satisfaction and. as will be emphasized further in the following chapter, a generator of occupational problems.
The tattooist is. on the one hand. a commercial artist. a worker involved in exercising (ideally) a unique skill while creating (again. ideally) for profit a product that contains elements of beauty-however that is defined by the various interactants in the commercial exchange.
As we have seen, the person entering the tattoo setting commonly experiences considerable anxiety, especially since he or she typically has little or no prior experience with tattooing.
Positive social responses from friends and other members of the novice tattooee's reference group also help decrease feelings of social risk, As described earlier. getting tattooed is a highly social experience for most first-time tattoo recipients.