In ancient art, mummified preserved skin, and archaeological findings indicate that tattooing has been practiced around the world since Neolithic times. Various ancient artifacts, including tattoo tools, suggest tattooing was practiced during the Upper Paleolithic era in Europe.

Ancient and traditional practices

It was in 2015 that a reassessment of the age of the two oldest known tattooed mummies determined that *tzi was the oldest tattooed mummy at the time. An intact body with 61 tattoos was uncovered in the Alps, and the age of the body was estimated at 3250 BCE. On two Egyptian mummies dated between 3351 and 3017 BCE, the oldest figurative tattoos in the world were discovered in 2018.
Hawaiian hafted tattoo instrument, mallet, and ink bowl, of traditional Austronesian tattoo culture.
Spanish depiction of the tattoos (patik) of the Visayan Pintados (“the painted ones”) of the Philippines in the Boxer Codex (c.1590), one of the earliest depictions of native

 Austronesian tattoos by European explorers

The Austronesian people practiced ancient tattooing the most. Before the Austronesian expansion into the Indo-Pacific islands, it was one of the first technologies developed by the Pre-Austronesians in Taiwan and coastal South China. There is a possibility that it originated from headhunting.
There are many tattooing traditions among Austronesian subgroups, including those found among Taiwanese Aborigines, Islander Southeast Asians, Micronesians, Polynesians, and the Malagasy people. Tattooing by Austronesians usually involved perpendicularly hafted tattooing points driven into the skin with a wooden mallet. In general, wood was used for the handle and the mallet, while citrus thorns, fish bones, bone, teeth, turtle shells, and oyster shells were used for the points.
There is evidence of ancient tattooing practices among Papuans and Melanesians as well, using obsidian skin piercers. These implements have been found at some sites associated with the Austronesian migration into Papua New Guinea and Melanesia. Other sites, however, date back to around 1650 to 2000 BCE, which suggests that tattooing was already prevalent in the region prior to the Austronesian expansion.
Additionally, tattoos were also practiced by the Ainu people of Japan; some Austroasiatics of Indochina; Berber women of Tamazgha (North Africa); Native Americans of the Americas before Columbus; and Welsh and Picts of Iron Age Britain.

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British and other pilgrims to the Holy Lands throughout the 17th century were tattooed with the Jerusalem Cross to commemorate their voyages, including William Lithgow in 1612.

Prince Giolo, the “Painted Prince”, a slave from Mindanao, Philippines exhibited by William Dampier in London in 1691

In 1691, William Dampier brought to London a Filipino man named Jeoly or Giolo from the island of Mindanao (Philippines) who had a tattooed body and became known as the “Painted Prince”.

Between 1766 and 1779, Captain James Cook made three voyages to the South Pacific, the last trip ending with Cook’s death in Hawaii in February 1779. When Cook and his men returned home to Europe from their voyages to Polynesia, they told tales of the ‘tattooed savages’ they had seen. The word “tattoo” itself comes from the Tahitian tatau, and was introduced into the English language by Cook’s expedition[citation needed] (though the word ‘tattoo’ or ‘tap-too’, referring to a drumbeat, had existed in English since at least 1644)

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