12 Amazing & Painful Hand-Poked Tattoos
Before electric tattoo machines were ever invented, tattoos were done with bare hands. There's simply no stopping our ancestors!
Tattooing was in our blood. The process back then was raw and organic, even the thought of it hurts! Tattoos were either stitched, carved, or hand-poked and the tools were hand-crafted out of mother nature's supply of wood, thorns and pigments. The process was done with total respect and awareness of the sacredness of The Body: a temple that we should treat with gratefulness to the Creator and adorn with love and beauty. The pain was a crucial part, for it is a rite of passage. No anesthetics, crying, and all that drunken foolishness. It was believed to be Spiritual which makes it truly an exquisite way of Art. Ways vary from all corners of the world, bound in one unifying concept: Blood, Art and Spirit. It is amusing how it has been done thousands of years ago and how it continues today. Nobody can explain exactly why we do it, but somehow, our tattooed hearts know. These 12 amazing and amusing hand-poked tattoos will take your tattooed soul back home. Would you try it?
Yes, eyeball tattoos were hand-poked! And you wouldn't believe it was done for medical reasons. More on that in our 15 bizarre & gut-wrenching eyeball tattoos blog.
in Japan: there's "Tebori" (Japanese word for "Hand-carved"). A row of needles is tied/taped to a bamboo handle, dipped in ink, and then "poked" to the skin, making a distinctive shakki sound. That up there is Master Horiyoshi III demonstrating the Tebori. (photo credit: Donald Delley)
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in Thailand: They call it "Sak Yant" (Sak meaning 'Tattoo', Yant meaning 'Sacred'). For the tattoo to be genuine, it must be applied by a genuine monk. The designs are mixed with Buddhist prayers or mantras that are believed to give the wearer magic powers associated with healing, luck, strength & protection against evil. (photo by Tanat Talat)
Check out the hard-earned beauty on this Sak Yant back piece! Buddhist monks originally engraved Sak Yant into warriors seeking protection & strength in battle, often covering their bodies from head to toe in magic symbols to protect them from harm. It has been around for 2,000 years! Wow.
Angelina Jolie getting a Sak Yant from Ajam Noo Sompong Kanhpai.
in The Philippines: 96-year-old Apo Whang Od continues tattooing for as long as she lives! She is the last legitimate hand-tap tattooer in the Butbut Tribe who used to tattoo her fellow warriors nature-inspired patterns every time they win & collect heads in battle. Non-warriors in their tribe would get it as spiritual guides or marks of their life's journey. They believe that tattoos are talismans of protection from the gods. The needle she uses are of her own picking: thorns from citrus trees! Photo by Geloy Concepcion.
Here are some badass tattooed elders of Whang Od's bloodline. These men used to be headhunters, and nobody can replicate their chest tattoos because these magically-infused patterns were only exclusive to the warriors. Tattoos are a warrior's pride. Book written by Lars Krutak.
Now modern technology has fashioned needles especially made for electric tattooing. Some tattooers would experiment otherwise. Earth elements on our friend Levi done by Ryan Calleja, Good Hand Tattoo (Philippines)
It's nice to know how modern tattooers are bringing it back to life. Hand-poked breast tattoos done by Grace Neutral as seen in our 12 Fun, Crazy & Hilarious Nipple tattoos blog. OUCH!
Hand-poked tattoos take more time to do, so be patient with your tattoo artist if you're looking to get some.