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Ancient Ink – Blood and Tattoos

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Rating: 2.6/5 (10 votes cast)

Starting in New Zealand, Craig Reynolds explores the tattooing culture around the globe. He kicks off with the Maori and the artists who maintain the ancient tattooing tradition.  There are so many different and diverse patterns and techniques…many are quite simply painful to endure.

The Maori moko is very significant both for the male and female tribes folk. Many of the Moari moko’s were constructed with a flat chisel which opened up a scar which would then again be opened and inked.

Craig gets his own tattoo at the hands of a very skilful Maori and witnesses the revival of Moko in a very remote New Zealand village.

The worldwide tattooing phenomena is an ancient process which is administered in a variety of ways from fully electro-mechanical to the very manual puncturing of the skin with bamboo tips and lacing of the skin using needle and thread.

He travels to Polynesia where he sees the fine tooth comb used in the ancient past…now a metal needle is utilised but is still driven into the skill by tapping the needle into the skin using a stick. He gets to be inked on the beach in Hawaii….two hours in the open having his thigh band completed in a traditional fashion.

New Orleans sees him finding tattoos on ancient bodies…mummies and preserved remains from about 1000 year previous. We see Inuit s having tattoos sewn-in…almost an extinct technique.

The Japanese Mafia, Yakusa, have always sported special tattoos which has made them by far the most intricate, beautiful and in many cases illegal demonstrations of this ancient art. Here we see complete bodysuits which would have taken thousands of hours to complete. A macabre part of the documentary is the human body suit which is the human skin peeled from the body and preserved in one single piece!!! The tabouri stick used by some of the chief artists is remarkable…he can achieve shading through adjustment of pressure which could never be achieved using modern electro-mechanical tattoo instruments.

Keeping in the criminal vein he now moves to a high security prison to understand the tattoo culture which is illegal in prisons but still flourishes….and this is some of the most incredible art you will see!! There is a feature on the removal of unwanted tattoos…and this is an even more painful process. Many reformed criminals require special laser treatment to remove the incarceration tattoos and this will be a long long process.

See the tattooed lady from the 1920′s and the freaky Lizard man…the circus has made superstars from tattooing. And then there is the military and war and remembrance are the predominant theme here…ironically this is probably similar to the prison community where the inmates and military each in their own way enter into a battle which they feel worthy of embellishment on their own bodies. The Naval tradition is extremely strong and there are so many traditional patterns and symbols used to indicate different occasions during service. The soldiers and servicemen now even have their dogtags tattooed on their bodies in case they are fatally injured in conflict.

Finally it’s Hollywood for a tattoo like the “Stars” get….what about UV ink?!! now there are tattoos which do not show up in normal light…and FINALLY tattooing the EYEBALL….are there no limits?





Ancient Ink - Blood and Tattoos, 2.6 out of 5 based on 10 ratings
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  1. I was with this until the eye tattoo towards the end. Before it even started, my own eyes started watering and twitching, almost puked. Still everything else was pretty cool, much respect. Love the Japanese full body tattoos. :)

  2. There’s no need to be rude to somebody just because they’ve taken offense to a comment. You may not have been offended if it was disrespecting your culture, I probably wouldn’t either, but they might be more sensitive than the rest of us. Have a little respect -.-

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  5. calumevo88 says:

    tattoos have been found on bodies that have been preserved in ice for thousands of years in remote northern european locations. the word tattoo may have originated from samoa but tattoos were almost universal among tribal peoples all over the world, used to show a persons accomplishments and status in the tribe. or to distinguish one tribesman from another.

  6. It’s good to see an American following cultural traditions and manners (such as bowing in Japan and the forehead touching/breathing of the Maori) which a lot of American documentaries don’t seem to follow (as much as his voice was annoying). A great documentary though, long winded as it was and his original tattoos having such terrible placement and tacky design. His new, traditional ones are a lot better.

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  8. if you are talking about the tattoos he has before the documentary then yes the suck ass but the once he got during the documentary are not supposed to be mind blowing or elaborate the are ancient tattoos with religious and cultural meaning and they didn’t have the tecnology we have now 1000 years ago so sir you are an idiot gtfo

  9. hvapwns says:

    I could be wrong (sorry if I am) but I’m pretty sure certain rights like that become alienable, because you’re effectively a ward of the State at the time of incarceration, it’s kinda like how felons can’t vote. Like i said i may be wrong, i just don’t want you to waste your money on court cases (speaking as a law student (irony)).

  10. bob mathews says:

    hey bub… thats me on the show with the hammer…been an odinist for ten years…no disrespect intended but who are you to choose how i honor the gods? i live the nine noble virtues… how i display my love for the aesir should not concern you or offend you.

  11. Charlene Ong says:

    its Horiyoshi the third not pronouced Horiyoshi 3 and he’s one of the greatest tattooists of all time. the host might seem like a nice guy, but he comes off as a person who doesn’t know much about the art and just did this show for the sake of free tattoos. not worthy. seriously… watch lars krutak at least he doesn’t start off with ugly 90s tribal tattoos.

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