These linework and geometric designs are more than just aesthetically pleasing. Traditional Croatian tattoos perpetuate the history of a people and their body art.
Historians and ethnologists can trace traditional Croatian tattooing to the ancient Illyrian tribes that lived in the Balkans. Their symbols and patterns have mixed with the early art of Catholics. Under the Turkish occupation, Catholic people used these tattoos as a form of protection, especially for the most fragile members of the population, children and women. They tattooed their bodies with these ornaments, which usually included a discreet cross, to remember their faith even when forced to convert.
The ink of traditional Croatian tattoos was often mixed with the milk of mothers, as well as charcoal, honey and other natural materials. The tattooists were usually women, and the act of tattooing was done on holy days. Over the course of centuries, the art of these female tattoo artists has often been forbidden, but has continued to survive nonetheless. Many old ladies still show off their traditional Croatian tattoos with pride, and the young generations have started to pay a tribute to their history, tradition and family. These tattoos are not only gorgeous, but they show the strength of an amazing female tradition and its weight on history.
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