Thursday, March 27, 2014
SAILORS TATTOOS & POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
For the record I don’t have a tattoo. The few times I have considered it, my wife gave me a cold icy stare. My daughters would disown me for a time. Maybe some day I’ll just get one anyways ... just be contrarian. The neatest boat tattoo I have ever seen was a collage of a compass rose and a tall ship with the scripted words “Take Me Home”.
Tattoos are part and parcel to boats and ships and have a historic place at the table. Tattoos with sailors can be traced back as far as the 1700’s when Captain James Cook came across the natives of the South Pacific. His crew decided to get tattoos as "souvenirs" of their visit. After that the connection between sailors at tattoos has been ongoing. However the obscene tattoos did not begin until the early 1900’s when the United States government declared that anyone with an "obscene" tattoos would not be allowed in the navy. With that declaration many men got tattoos as an easy way out of serving ... creating a boom of naked woman tattoos. However if they later decided to join the navy they had to have a tattoo artist "dress" the woman. How politically correct is that? Eventually folks got over it and naked tattoos became mainstream. But along the way they became politically incorrect. Don’t you get tired of political correctness? Maybe I should go out and get a naked woman tattoo so I can offend those that stick there nose up at anything that’s not vanilla. It’s a said thing when a high percentage of the population believes everyone must be cut from the same cloth and conform to their set of standards to be considered the “right type of person”. Artists and rock stars get an automatic pass, but that’s about it - but I digress.
It is important to mention that in marine culture sailors have the custom of getting tattoos to be a part of the family like relationship. In addition the purpose of sailor tattoos were to record the sailor’s important events or experiences such travels, achievements, naval hierarchy, rank, status, membership or any other significant event in life. Sailor tattoos were also visual way to preserve the culture of the maritime superstitions. Long ago sailors were a superstitious lot and had the belief that certain symbols and talismans would help them in when facing certain events in life. They thought that those symbols would attract good luck or bad luck in the worst of the cases. For example the images of a pig and a hen; both animals are not capable of swimming (actually some pigs can swim). According to superstition and sailor beliefs, God would look down upon a shipwreck and see an animal incapable of swimming and would take it into his hand and place it on land. Hmm ...why not just a life boat tattoo and God could have placed them back in the boat?
Anyways here’s to tattoos and non conforming politically incorrect folks, who just want to have fun and be a little bit different than their neighbour.