Sunday, February 07, 2016

Irezumi, Japan’s Ancient Tattoo Tradition

(Credit: Rooksana Hossenally)
Traditional Japanese irezumi differs from other types of tattooing as it is usually done as a full body suit or as an arm or leg sleeve, cut off at the neck, wrists and ankles in order to hide the artwork under clothes. The tattoos have a long history dating to before the Edo period (1603-1868).  In the 18th Century, they became popular in Japan’s red light districts and began to incorporate figures from historical texts. These tattoos were created by carvers who made the wooden moulds used to produce prints depicting stories inspired by the philosophical and spiritual legends.

Members from the Takahashi-gumi Yakuza celebrate during the second day
of Tokyo’s Sanja Festival. (Credit: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)

These tattoos have been a taboo art form, a sign of intimidation or a connection to the underworld, but 69 year old tattoo master Horiyoshi III has spent his life using irezumi to keep alive traditional Japanese culture – a cryptic history of dragons, street knights and samurai.

More: BBC 

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