The Art and Pain of Tattoo

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While looking at these models during the MATA Expo 2016 held at JCenter Mall in Mandaue Cebu, I had been thinking how and why these guys love to have inks imprinted into their skin? How come they are referring tattoo as being addictive and that they are enduring the pain.


Is it worth the pain?


A lady being tattooed at the top while a tattoo artist trying to change needles.


So I dug into this specific art and looked for the hundreds of reasons why Tattoo is still present in our society and even is also emerging together with technology.


HISTORY in the Philippines


I am specifically covering this based on how it has originated in the Philippines since that's where I and these artists I have photographed located.

We might have not known but Tattooing has been alive since at least the Stone Age. Isn't that fact amazing? It has been here in our lives ever since. And for the Philippines, it has been available even before the country was colonized by the Spaniards. As our history calls recalls and those photos I have seen in the book leaf pages, I can see those people who had greeted the Spaniards ships to be illustrated as having heavy tattoos in their bodies. Even more, the island of which the Spaniard ships had docked to was called La Isla De Los Pintados which basically means the Islands of the Painted Ones. That only shows that majority if not all of the people there were tattooed.


Back in the days, tattoo designs were tribals and were just mainly made of black ink.

But more specifically, those tattoos mean more than just a skin design but it also is a sign of strength and beauty.

Way back during ancient times in the Philippines, men would bore ink in their chests and heads to signify that they are strong and would mean that thay have accomplishments as warriors.

Most men before on the year of 1900s would have tattoos for every animal or even human head they are able to kill in a hunt. That sounds creepy though because of the human heads but that is true.

Women on the other hand would bore tattoos on their arms and wrists to show beauty specially when they are about to get married. It has been a sign that a man had been captured by her beauty.


These are the instruments used nowadays, no more woods and all are stainless and battery or electric operated.


While these days the instruments used are already special kinds of needles, way before the ancestors use carved animal horn and the pigment ink would be from a resin and soot of the a tree which are then rubbed into the skin wound.



It still really bothers me as to who had originated and who started this kind of act. How were they able to make cool tribal designs on their skins? Were they influenced by the foreign people or were they able to make these out of boredom?

It sounds like they were too bored that they had thought of doing it just to kill time and hurt themselves. I know it hurts because there will be skin wound so the inks would be kept into the skin.


Inks are not anymore from tree barks but mostly chemicals.


I finally learned that this is actually more of a cultural and religious act in the Philippines. The designs signify as cutter of the head.


New Generation Tattoo Art


The ancient art of tattoo includes only a black colored ink tattooed into the skin of our ancestors however, this time around tattoo art has already emerged.



From just a plain black ink into two or more ink colors painted into the skins. And aside from simply using the traditional tribal designed tattoo prints, these days, tattoo designs are limitless.

The artists of today had already managed to find more art to lay unto their models. But most of the time, models would select their own tattoo designs.



There are tattoos of flowers, animals, celebrity faces, human bodies and even cartoon characters.


Tattoo Artist Tattooing Upclose


While I have brothers and friends who have tattoos on their bodies, the experience at the MATA Expo was my first time that I have seen such an upfront and personal tattoo artist inking someone's skin. It was scary for my husband as he doesn't want to see any blood but I was bold and courageous enough to go for it and check them. There were more than twenty tattoo artists around the hall area. And they have models each and everyone of them waiting for their new tattoos to be finished.



I was not sure if it was for free or if the models will be paying some amount since that was a competition actually.

But it seems like majority of the models were not really hurt with what the artist was doing. I know piercing hurts but this hurts more because of the fact that there are needles just going into the skin.


One of the models which I thought was crying. I guess he was just trying to hold the pain.


These are really courageous ones specially the girls.


But overall, the experience was really good. I was able to take photos of the models and that they were really cool about it. They would also give way if I would try to capture the act and even video cover it. I had a lot of photos of the event in fact.

It was fun looking at the models' expressions.

Here are some of the models who had been feeling the pain perhaps since their actions and facial expressions show them.


Now, although I have witnessed the beauty and the history about the Tattoo art, I am still gonna stay with my decision of staying away from it. Aside from it is painful, I don't want something permanent to be tattooed into my skin which will remind me of anything or anyone. I guess I would still gonna be okay without those tattoos. But hands off to those artists who had been able to make great designs. Continue to showcase your selected art.

Contents and Images owned by Jean Beltran Figues
Copyright Reserved Jean Beltran-Figues 

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