Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept 15 to Oct 15. Join us in celebrating cultural touchstones and famous people, as well as learning things like the distinction between Latino and Hispanic.
The first thing we need to do is to clear up some confusion on nomenclature, specifically the terms Latino and Hispanic. The first thing to get out of the way is that a Spanish person is a person from the country of Spain. Hispanic refers to people of Spanish-speaking descent. Latino refers to a person of Latin American descent. There are also terms specific to one country, such as Chicano for someone from Mexico, or those referring to a specific ancestry, such as Boricua, for the native people of Puerto Rico. While there are many people who are both Hispanic and Latin American, the terms are not interchangeable. For example, a Brazilian person is Latino, but not Hispanic, as Brazil is a Portuguese-speaking country.
“The body is a temple and it’s our job to decorate it.” From tatau in Polynesia to Sailor Jerry to the oppressed class that gave rise to the Yakuza, we touch on some highlights from the history of tattoos.
For those who don’t know me personally, I’m coming to you today from Richmond, VA, the #4 most tattooed city in America, depending on which list you’re looking at, a city with 15 tattoo shops per 100,000 people. Our unnofficial motto is “The body is a temple and it’s our job to decorate it,” right after “We don’t like the way things are, but don’t you dare suggest changing it.”
Tattooing is one of the earliest visual art forms and has served as a means of self-expression for thousands of years. The process was probably discovered when ash or dirt became embedded in an open wound, leaving an indelible mark when healed. The word tattoo is derived from the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means to mark. The earliest known reference to the word was made by Joseph Banks, a naturalist aboard Cpt. Cook’s the Endeavour, “I shall now mention the way they mark themselves indelibly; each of them is so marked by their humour or disposition”. By the 1700s, the word tattoo was in use in Europe. The term and knowledge of the practice was probably re-introduced to Europe by sailors returning from Polynesia. I say “re-introduced,” because early Britons used tattoos in ceremonies. The Danes, Norse, and Saxons tattooed themselves with clan sigils, an early form of family crest. The practice took a major hit when Pope Hadrian banned tattooing in the eighth century, but it was the Norman Invasion of 1066, with its ink-antagonist Normans that caused it to disappear from Western Europe until the 16th century.