Long before its introduction to Europe and North America, on islands that dot the vast oceans of this earth, people used bamboo and thread to decorate their skin. In Polynesia and New Zealand, tattoos have long been a part of the defining culture, and tattooing was not only a respected art, it was a way of telling a story about your people and yourself. Fast forward to today, and tattooing has become an integral part of many cultures, including the prison culture and that of deep underground subcultures. Ancient Ink: Blood and Tattoos explores both the history and the contemporary story of tattoos around the world. In this 2008 History Channel documentary, Craig Reynolds travels the globe researching tattoo traditions and practices, and receiving tattoos himself, in places where tattoo is as much a part of the fabric of culture as food and dress. He also visits the criminal aspect of tattooing, exploring the tattoo traditions of the Yakuza in Japan and high security prison tattoo art. Reynolds also explores the circus tattoo traditions, Naval tattoos and new trends of extreme tattooing and body modification that has become popular in North America. After the jump, learn where your ink came from and watch Ancient Ink: Blood and Tattoos.
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Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing alongside her husband Sean.More by Meghan