New Tattoos

A while back my brother gave me some gift certificates for tattoo work that he'd won as part of a prize packet for a race he'd participated in. He's never going to get tattooed so he passed them on to me. Last summer I got a blue tear drop on the inside of my left index finger (seen below). Last friday I got a heart on my thumb and three little black dots on my fingers of both hands (seen above). I've been wanting the little dots for about 30 years. It's like a dream come true. 


  1. I've been wanting dots just above my fingers aswell. I've looked high and low to find out if they mean anything but can't seem to find anything.
    Would you happen to know if they have a meaning behind them?

    1. When I first encountered them, I understood they were solely the domain of women. Many cultures practice hand tattooing from Ethiopia and Eritrea and on up through north African countries (I don't know about Sudan), but Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and the other direction into the Middle East. The tradition jumps the water in to southern Europe on up into The North, China, Siberia, Northern indigenous peoples and then back on down into South East Asia and the Indonesian Islands and the South Pacific and of course lets not forget the Americas! Which is to say there are as many different meanings as there are places you'll find evidence of finger tattoos.

      The documentation of these tattoos is (last I checked) fairly sparse because they're mostly on women in cultures where women are tucked away out of site. I found interesting information in, Re:Search Modern Primitives (ISBN-13: 978-1889307268), that book has an amazing bibliography that lead me to, Wrapping in Images: Tattooing in Polynesia (ISBN-13: 978-0198280903).

      When I was a kid, I lived in an area that was (and still is) beautifully ethnically diverse with lots and lots of people who came to our country as refugees. I saw incredible tattoo patterns of women from all over the world. Approaching them on the bus or in the grocery seemed a little rude, so I never asked. Through my life I pieced together what I hypothesize one tradition to be, tribal traditions blended with Christianity introduced by missionaries. A lot of the tattoos, especially on the face were of crosses.

      I'm gonna go out on a limb here and declare that I think a lot of this type of tattooing was for the purpose of beautification. For example, some women in Senegal tattoo their gums black to enhance the whiteness of their teeth.


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