Rites of Passage

Primitive people also tattooed their adolescents as a rite of passage. The theory was that if a young boy couldn't take the pain of a tattoo at a young age, then he would be useless at battle. Similarly, if a young girl couldn't handle the pain of a tattoo, she would not be able to handle the pain of childbirth. Many of these children ended up with a tattoo anyway, that would label them as an outcast of the tribe.

Totem animals are also another common motif in primitive tattoos. Totem animals such as snakes, frogs, butterflies wolves or bears signified that the individual has taken on the physical prowess of that animal. In some cultures, the totem animal is thought to have a special spiritual relationship with the bearer of tattoo and acts as a spirit guide.

From the South Pacific to the South America, primitive people have customs involved with their tattooing rituals. Usually the person being tattooed is separated from others, smudged, isolated from the opposite sex or fed a special diet.

From primitive times to now, Hawaiians celebrate specific tattoo gods. The designs associated with each God are locked away in the temples and priests conduct tattooing. Each tattooing session begins with a prayer to tattoo gods that implores that the operation goes well and that the designs be gorgeous in the end.

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