Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who Owns Tattoo

In the epilogue of Tattooing The World,  there is discussion about who really possess an individual’s tattoo. This is an interesting perspective to take because it is normally thought that the person who has the tattoo is the owner. However, this is not always the case because there are different reasons that may provoke someone to get one which technically gives ownership to an outsider. The epilogue opens with the question “who owns tattoo?” This is followed by multiple situations that suggest that it is not the wearer of the tattoo that owns but either a community, social expectation, or individuals.
Some traditions place the expectation on someone to get tattooed, “ Maori follow tradition in seeking approval of their family and elders before acquiring a moko” (193). This is a key example because the ownership really does lie in those that pressure another individual to get tattooed. Ellis states that “the tattoo is owned simultaneously by bearer, artist, and community” (194). Tattoo is a piece of art that has the ability to encompass so much history and meaning. It is essential to learn about that past and the thought process behind it to figure out if the bearer is its true owner. 
Without a doubt there are so many outside influences that do contribute to the type of tattoo a person gets as well as its meaning. The bearer can only really own it when everything about the piece is driven by their own personal wants, ideas, and desires. However, even then the overall outcome is still a product of some sort of influence that the person has faced throughout their life. In many of the stories that have been read this semester, the characters get their tattoos because there is something pushing them to do so. Parker, in Parker’s Back may have not been forced to get any of the tattoos that he has but it is the places he has been and the moments he has experienced that inspired them. Is it fair to say that he is the owner of them? Or are the pass events of his life the true owners of them? There is definitely not a clear way to decipher what makes someone the true owner of their tattoo. In truth, there is so much in the world that people are exposed to daily which results in no clear cut answer.
Today, many people are uneducated when it comes to the history of tattoo. Ellis discusses the “deterritorialization of tattoo” which is a result of its disassociation with Maori and Pacific faces and bodies as well as designs. Although it is impossible to educate everyone in the world about where this art originated, it is still important to know about it. This relates to the idea of owning a tattoo because if someone picks a design that they like but don’t know where it came from, it is not really their own. On the other hand, anyone has the ability to choose the story behind their own tattoo and how they tell it will create the reality that they want. Tattoos are just as impersonal as they are personal. For every tattoo that someone puts on their body there is an audience out there who interprets that message in the way they want. Maybe it is safe to say that the owner of the tattoo can be anyone who reads its message, whether they be the bearer or the audience. 

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