The history of Asian tattoos goes back to eastern mythology. Many of the images seen in Asian pieces refer to different stories and myths allowing each image to have its own unique symbolism. Today you will find many Asian tattoos based off the old woodblock paintings of the Edo period called Ukiyo-e.
Traditional Asian tattooing utilized one of the two forms of hand tattooing called Tebori. This method is different then machine tattooing (what is done in most shops) as Tebori utilizes a bamboo stick with a flat needle head attached to the end. The tattooer levies it over the thumb of their stretching hand and uses force to push it up under the skin. The sound it creates while tattooing is called shakki as you can hear a distinct rip of the skin. This style of tattooing creates a very smooth gradient in black and grey, which lends itself nicely to the wind bar and water imagery commonly found in Asian pieces.
The placement of Asian tattoos also has great significance as a historic Asian body suit will have an open section down the sternum and stop ¾ of the way down the arm as to allow the wearer the ability to hide their tattoos in a traditional kimono. This is much like the business man suit you see today when a tattoo will stop ¾ of the way down the arm so that you can make that million dollar deal without showing off your ink.
If you are looking to get a new Asian piece and don’t know where to start we have a large library of books of Asian artwork to help you draw inspiration! Or click here to see a gallery of Asian style tattoos.