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Superstitions and Tattoos

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I get where you are coming from John. while some people can pull it off- I myself wouldn't feel comfortable getting these tattoos either. i think that's why i tend to over think stuff and research symbology so much because i don't want to end up with something that holds great meaning to a culture without realising it, or end up with something that doesn't make sense ( ie talking about where traditional Japanese motifs belong and what elements go together etc ) but then again- id much rather see a white man with well executed tribal work over generic tribal any day :)

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My family is Jewish. And though we're not religious, my dad still tries to take it pretty seriously. It's against the Jewish religion to get tattoos, and if you get one you can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery. That's my dad's main argument against me having tattoos. But personally, being only 20 years old and considering myself agnostic, I'm not too concerned with where I'll be buried right now.

I have heard that a Jewish person with tattoos could still be buried in a Jewish cemetery though, but they have to peel off the tattooed part of the skin.

And interestingly enough, there are many young Jewish people, especially in Israel, who are getting their grandparent's/great-grandparent's concentration camp numbers tattooed in order to never forget the Holocaust. This has had mixed reactions. Some say it's good that the younger generations remember the Holocaust and their relatives who either survived or passed away. But others still want to stick to the traditional Jewish values and see getting the number tattooed as demeaning and a way to strip a person of his or her humanity. But if you change the meaning for yourself and see it as a symbol of strength, it can be a great commemoration.

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I don't know if you can call it Superstition and i'm not narrow minded or racist, but I personally like when people stay whitin their own culture.

I'm not Japanese so I don't get a koi, and I'm not from New Zealand so no maori for me.

I just want traditional and that's not a matter of taste, while I like all GOOD Tattoos.

I pretty much disagree entirely with this.

First, it presumes that you understand the reasons why people get the tattoos they get. I read recently, it was either on here or on IG, a tattooer (I think for some reason that it was David Bruehl, but I'm not certain about that) talking about how there was a point in their career where they were tattooing a lot of yin yangs. The tattooer asked those clients what religion or philosophical belief that the yin and yang belonged to and none of them could give an even close to accurate answer, but that regardless of this, they were seeking to achieve a kind of balance in their lives. Horiyoshi III says in an interview in the book JBxH3 that a lot of people who get tattoos of Buddhist deities don't even know what they mean. They like the appearance or the name of the god, and maybe they learn more about it after. So even within what you describe as a "culture" people are getting tattoos that are outside of their realm of familiarity.

Second, it's useless to talk about culture as this monolithic thing. If you want to talk narrowly about western traditional tattoos, a lot of those are sailor tattoos or military tattoos, or are deeply rooted in those cultures and traditions, and if you want to talk about people "staying within their own culture" a lot of us wouldn't have the tattoos we have.

Third, at this point in time there are very few tattoo traditions that are "untouched" so to speak and aren't influenced by tattoo traditions from elsewhere, and I don't see this as in any way a bad thing. Shit, this isn't even a new thing. I read or heard somewhere...maybe it was from an interview with Horiyoshi III again?...that Japanese tattooing and this whole body compositions were originally influenced by Polynesian tattoos. You look at classic Western tattoos and you'll see all kinds of Asian influence there with dragons and what not--George Burchett went to Japan and observed the masters at work--not to mention that way that Sailor Jerry took that Japanese influence and brought it into Western tattooing with those incredible backpieces he did which have been so influential on the way we get tattooed now. What about Ed Hardy, who synthesised so many things into his tattooing? What about Thomas Hooper who does very European tattoos but is very open about how much he's influenced by Polynesian tattoos? I'm going to say that most of the exciting things that have happened in tattooing have happened precisely because people didn't "stay within their own culture".

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My family is Jewish. And though we're not religious, my dad still tries to take it pretty seriously. It's against the Jewish religion to get tattoos, and if you get one you can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery. That's my dad's main argument against me having tattoos. But personally, being only 20 years old and considering myself agnostic, I'm not too concerned with where I'll be buried right now.

I have heard that a Jewish person with tattoos could still be buried in a Jewish cemetery though, but they have to peel off the tattooed part of the skin.

And interestingly enough, there are many young Jewish people, especially in Israel, who are getting their grandparent's/great-grandparent's concentration camp numbers tattooed in order to never forget the Holocaust. This has had mixed reactions. Some say it's good that the younger generations remember the Holocaust and their relatives who either survived or passed away. But others still want to stick to the traditional Jewish values and see getting the number tattooed as demeaning and a way to strip a person of his or her humanity. But if you change the meaning for yourself and see it as a symbol of strength, it can be a great commemoration.

I'm familiar with the same information about being buried and Holocaust situations (which is also funny cause many of my family members have been cremated when they passed and I think that's not supposed to happen.) I do know a few tattooed Jewish folk, as well as tattooed Israelis, but I haven't come across the number tattoos happening. That actually does scare me quite a bit although I understand what they're trying to say with that.

My understanding, and people forgive me if I am totally wrong about this but it's what I've heard in discussion, is that there's something in the Old Testament about harming oneself, and that more or less is interpreted as tattooing. I think it was that it was meant to be an anti-Pagan statement (I think maybe a reference to blood-letting rituals etc), but if that's the understanding then my defense is that getting tattooed isn't self-harm at all. I'm decorating myself. Besides, that would mean no pierced ears or anything else.

Also the idea of false idolatry. I guess an image being tattooed on yourself could be considered idolatry. That's quite a bit more direct but still...totally subjective.

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I'm familiar with the same information about being buried and Holocaust situations (which is also funny cause many of my family members have been cremated when they passed and I think that's not supposed to happen.) I do know a few tattooed Jewish folk, as well as tattooed Israelis, but I haven't come across the number tattoos happening. That actually does scare me quite a bit although I understand what they're trying to say with that.

I think certain sects of Judaism allows cremation.

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As far as the culture goes... Theres no point in pretending we don't live in a globalized society. That said, I only really want traditional (as a matter of taste) and black and gray, both of which are pretty American (maybe Russian for the black and gray). Not super worried about a japanese backpiece offending anyone or something.

At the same time I feel like theres something to be said for those who honor their own cultures and their traditions intensely.

I have a couple occult tattoos planned that I'm sketchy about in some superstitious way. I've been wanting to get some mayan stuff lately but I'm worried about stepping on any ancient toes since I'm not, you know, a priest or anything. Ive pored over their jars and read all their books and codices, am familiar with their pantheon, and generally try to educate myself about their culture. But to act like that gives me a right to step on their toes seems really ignorant to me. I dunno.

Also worried about being possessed by some Mayan god or some shit. I'm pretty superstitious in general.

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I like learning about different superstitions but they don't affect me at all, though I wont listen to ACDC's Black Ice album when driving in the winter...

the only way they impacted my tattoo choices is if I decided I like the idea and want to get it, like the four leaf clover with a 13 in the center of it on my right elbow.

but I believe in balance, so when I hate myself enough to get another elbow tattoo, im gonna get a black cats head (probably the head of a panther cause they look cooler) snarling with a 7 in its mouth on my left elbow.

as far as stepping on toes of other cultures, if it could get my butt kicked, I wont get it. so no somoan pe'a tattoos for me.

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@beez I've noticed that with most tattoo artists working in the Japanese motif, when tattooing animals and creatures, most won't highlight or fill in the eyes until the piece is nearly completely. We've heard the old saying that, "the eyes are the windows to the soul" and the Chinese take this literally. They believe when you "dot" the eyes or fill in the eyes, the creature should be complete and would come to life as it were. If it wasn't complete and "brought to life" it would bring bad lucky and imbalanced as you've indicated. If you ever been in a Chinese community and witnessed the Lion dances during the Chinese New Year or other special occasions, the event is started by the "dotting of the eyes" of the Lion with incense, thereby waking up the Lion to start the dance that wards off evil.

I am going in tomorrow for session 2 of my back piece, I'll tell the artist to not fill in the eyes, I have to tell him in Thai, I'll say "fish carp make eye when tattoo finished...same fish birthday" (literal translation)

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I have a friend who told me just the other day that his mother, who has a ton of tattoos, believes the 'even numbers of tattoos are bad luck' superstition (or claims to, anyway).

I don't understand this superstition, though. If you had an odd number of tattoos, getting an even number of them would be bad luck, so why would you do it? (I know, I know. The answer is 'to justify having an odd number again after that' -- but wouldn't it be easier to skip the myth and just get the tattoos?)

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I have a friend who told me just the other day that his mother, who has a ton of tattoos, believes the 'even numbers of tattoos are bad luck' superstition (or claims to, anyway).

I don't understand this superstition, though. If you had an odd number of tattoos, getting an even number of them would be bad luck, so why would you do it? (I know, I know. The answer is 'to justify having an odd number again after that' -- but wouldn't it be easier to skip the myth and just get the tattoos?)

A friend of mine has told me something similar about having even vs. odd number of tattoos. I am a bit on the superstitious side (umbrellas mostly, and salt. Always salt.) but this is not a superstition I will take notice of. Ironically, I do prefer to have things in odd numbers. Even numbers are considered 'too perfect' in my mind.

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