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?