Tattoo symbols

Whatever their reason for being late to the party, the Italian tattoo world is working diligently to make up for lost time—and the public seems to be ready, willing, and able to think ink in a major way.
A milestone on this road happened in Bologna, Italy from November 12-14, 1993 at Italy’s first international tattoo convention.

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Italian tattoos

Why it’s taken so long for tattoo fever to reach The Boot is anybody’s guess. Maybe in a country with such a rich cultural heritage and an almost casual popular intimacy with truly great fine art, the lowbrow attraction of tattooing isn’t as necessary an outlet of expression as it is in some other, less graced countries. Who needs a clumsy pin-up tattooed on their arm in a place where a working man can take his lunch break in a public piazza, surrounded by statues from the Renaissance masters, instead of sitting on a bench looking at cheesy billboards for suntan lotion and cassette tapes? Maybe there’s a connection.

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Tattoo italian

Ironically, though, Italy is a relative newcomer to the international tattoo scene. The country that contributed so much to the world’s cultural wealth has only recently begun to see a popular explosion of interest in one of mankind’s oldest art forms.

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Italian tattoo designs

Historically italy has been home to some of the world’s most beautiful art. Birthplace to countless artistic geniuses such as Michelangelo, Boticelli and Da Vinci, Italy can be considered one of the most important centers of artistic tradition on earth.

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India tattoo

By Western standards it’s poor and slum-like, made of bits and pieces of whatever he could find. But even if that’s your judgment, it’s not your impression. It feels like the home of a proud and dignified man. The place is clean, well looked after, and decorated with plaques of Hindu deities and colorful icons of all sizes and shapes.

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Tattoo artists india

You remove your shoes and walk inside. The light changes and you feel a sudden sense of calm. The crowd is still outside, waiting patiently for some drama to unfold. From inside you can see them, pressing against each other and the fence, struggling to peer in the window, to spectate. Vishwas the tattoo-wallah ignores all this, and you look around for the first time at his home/studio.

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Tattoo indian

Traffic grinds to a halt, attracted by the mob on the sidewalk. A thousand eyes are on you—you are the circus come to town, a traveling sideshow, an unwitting performer in the carnival of the city. Cheap thrills for the cheap seats. Crowds beget even more crowds, and just when it gets so thick you wish you were anywhere else on earth, even a nice solitary prison cell, a self-assured, gentle young man emerges from the press of flesh, takes you by the tattooed arm and leads you inside.

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Tattoo symbols

You ask someone in halting Hindi about trajwa, one of the many local dialect words for tattooing— which draws a blank stare. Then you roll up your sleeves and show your tattoos, looking for some response. And you get one. Giggles, wild gesturing and pointing—the crowd really goes nuts, with everybody waving and arguing, pushing, pulling, shoving, craning for a better look at the crazy foreign tattoo person.

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Indian tattoos

If you blinked you’d have missed it, but you stop and look again. Sure as hell, the sign on one shanty says clearly: “VISHWAS TA TTOO ART—Army and Navy Specialist. ” Before too long, a crowd indian tattoo designsgathers to gawk because you—a foreigner—have stopped to look at something. It doesn’t matter what.

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Indian tattoo designs

You turn a comer off a decrepit crowded side road and onto one of the broader avenues and walk along, stunned. It’s just as crowded and busy and noisy as the side road, but the intensity knob has been turned up another couple tics. Back from the sidewalk, behind a fence, are rows and rows of low shanty houses, which look like they were constructed as temporary dwellings—shelter from the human storm blowing past the other side of the fence—and just somehow…

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