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Irezumi is a Japanese word that refers to the insertion of ink beneath  the skin (skin poke) leaving a permanent mark  usually decorative in nature.

Tattooing in Japan is believed to date back approximately 10,000 BC were tattoos were mainly done for spiritual reasons, but many believe decorative tattoos appeared around the same period.

In the Yayoi period (c. 300 BC-300 AD) tattoo designs had not only a decorative purpose but were also symbolizing social status.

What you may not know is that around the 300-600 AD most of tattoos became a mark of punishment. Instead of being used for ritual or status purposes, tattoos were used to tag slaves. So that everyone will recognize their status in case they were running from their master.Similar habit was discovered in Rome as well.

Some ceremonial designs have been recorded which were used when lovers were joining hands but I was more like trend. There are records but it  has no continuity.

It was only in the Edo Period (1600-1868 AD) that the ornamental tattooing began to develop into the amazing art form that is known as today.

What’s very interesting is that the art of tattooing was enriched by Ukiyo-e, the art of woodblock printing, with popularity rising  especially in the second half of the 17th Century. Monochromatic works of Hishikawa Moronobu were received with great enthusiasm.

In the 18th Century Suzuki Harunobu developed the technique of color printing to produce nishiki-e.

One of the most important influences in Japanese Tattoos has to be the release of the popular Chinese novel Shuihu Zhuan, in japanese Suikoden, a tale of courage and rebellion illustrated with woodblock prints showing fighters in heroic scenes. Their bodies decorated with tigers…. CLICK FOR MORE!