The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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(1,095 words)

1. ‘Tattoo,’ from the East Polynesian tatau, to ‘strike correctly,’ denotes a pattern, image, or ornament, scratched, pricked, or struck through the human epidermis. With scar tattooing, used especially with darker skin, the skin is seared or scratched with an instrument (fragment of stone, bamboo or bone knife, razor-blade). Healing is delayed (rubbing in of ashes, clay), in order that a pattern of swelling may emerge. With color or pricking tattooing (used especially with fair ski…

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Drexler, Josef, “Tattoo”, in: The Brill Dictionary of Religion, Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad. Consulted online on 27 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124332, 20051223

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