Sunday, February 28, 2016

Roger's Inadvertent Tattoos

Back in December we caught a news story out of Australia about an aboriginal elder who had traveled from a remote island in Northeast Arnhem Land to Victoria to perform a special dance with his granddaughter on her graduation day. The photo of the two of them together was especially beautiful and evocative.
Seeing that grandfather's face made us wonder about the aboriginal peoples of Australia and also reminded us of the more well-known aboriginal people of New Zealand, the Maori. And somehow thinking of the Maori reminded Roger of their ancient art of tattooing. He remembered that they used soot in making the pigments for their tattoos. Then, we looked at Roger's hand where he still has two small bluish tattoos.

i have two marks rather permanently on the back of my left hand. one is small and almost hidden. the other is larger and more visible. i let them remind me not to be stupid. we had a wood stove. we had big leather gloves. dummy me would now and again be lazy and feed the fire sans gloves. some times, reaching into the firebox holding a piece of firewood in my naked hand, i would touch something hot. and retract my hand very quickly. sometimes bumping it on the hot sooty cast iron, tearing my oldster skin. yes. i did this twice. oh, there were uneventful naked hand fire feedings of course. and gloved feedings too. the second and larger wound convinced me to put the glove on always.

Thinking about the ancient art of tattooing made us google around looking for other old bearers of the skin permanently marked by the charcoal of ash. We couldn't believe who we found: Otzi, the Iceman!
His 61 tattoos were made the way Roger made his, although Otzi's skin was purposefully cut and marked, with "groups of lines or crosses. Unlike modern tattooing methods, the tattoos were not produced with needles but by means of fine incisions into which charcoal was rubbed." According to the Smithsonian Science News, Otzi's tattoos are the world's oldest.

It is interesting to consider how the face of a beautiful old grandfather sent us on this journey to Roger's ash infused scrape on a hot cast iron woodstove and then to Otzi and his ancient art. Thousands and thousands of years connected by fire and ash.

22 comments:

  1. So when the young people of today get their tattoos they're not being as trendy as they think, just following someone who died over 5,000 years ago. And a clumsy fire-stoker.

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  2. I guess that puts the whole "Tats are forever" thing in perspective.

    You wouldn't want some future anthropologist to be looking at your frozen mummified corpse centuries from now and wondering, "I wonder what 'Romney 2012' means?"

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  3. OK, still laughing at "Romney 2012". Interesting how Roger's tats have such an ancient origin. Guess it never hurts to have a permanent reminder to "be careful."

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  4. I'm a little old fashion also. But I went the no tat way. Just wrinkles and scars.

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  5. The only tattoo I would ever have would be inadvertent.

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  6. John-- Isn't it interesting how such a trend has happened, and how old it really is.

    Nasreen-- That's very funny. I could never commit my body to a lifelong piece of art or a statement. Although now that I think about it, a simple peace sign would still be true for me!

    Patti-- We love the idea of a "permanent reminder to be careful." Now Roger just has to remember to remember that!

    Dave-- We're old fashion that way too. No purposeful tats, and just the wrinkles and scars of life. They tell their own stories, don't they.

    kenju-- Yes! That's the way for us to, definitely inadvertent.

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  7. :--) "clumsy fire-stoker" tats never really caught on. Nice post. The ancient art of keeping the fire is right up there with using a broom in some corner of my brain memory connection to ancient human acts that haven't changed much.

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  8. jsk-- Love the connection you made of those ancient human acts of keeping the fire and using the broom. Like chop wood and carry water.

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  9. I have a little "tattoo" on my knee that has basically the same ingredients as Roger's. It's what left from when a guy in one of my classes in middle school jabbed his pencil into my knee for no reason. I still have the little bluish-black mark on my knee more than 50 years later. I guess that means it's permanent.

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  10. Mark-- I had forgotten how a graphite pencil wound can leave a permanent mark. I just googled graphite tattoo and found discussions about such a thing. So interesting!

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  11. Nuh uh. Don't like needles anywhere near my skin, thus tattoos aren't a possibility!
    (No, I'm not an anti-vaxxer, just hate shots.)

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  12. isabelita-- I don't mind needles, but the thought of committing to a permanent piece of art on my skin just never made any sense.

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  13. This makes me think I should have robbed Ash into my surgery won't on my knee . Then I would have a real cool dark line down the front of my leg .


    I love the way your minds work you always pick up some interesting bit of information and do some research and come up with some amazing connections . Remember that serious I think it was called ...? Connections. That s what you do.

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  14. Tara-- That would have been interesting to have a cool dark line down the front of your leg. The next time I cut myself... Oy! Thank you for enjoying our mind connection frenzy. It is definitely the way our minds work.

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  15. Roger, if it makes you feel any better, I've fried my hand numerous times loading a wood stove. The stove in my new house came with a mitt, which I've stashed somewhere. Now that I'm older and I don't heal as quickly, I may have a come-to-Jesus moment like yours.
    Robin, as Tara said, the connections you guys drew are amazing. I love the photo of the young woman and her father. We are so blessed to live in a time when there are still "connections" (however frayed) via aboriginal communities, to an older way of living, of celebrating, of being.

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  16. CCorax-- Yes, one painful interaction with the woodstove can definitely steer you in the direction of taking all precautions. OTOH, an accidental tattoo is pretty interesting! So glad you like our connections. We love when an image sends us on a journey like this. To end up with Otzi was just magical!

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  17. I know it sounds painful (and it was), but when I was in high school, I inadvertently jammed a pencil lead under the cuticle of my right index finger and it broke off. I still have that "tattoo."

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  18. I saw the recent documentary on the Iceman. Fascinating.

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  19. The post is great and so are the funny comments. I have an actual tattoo and a couple of accidental ones as well. The "real" one had some bright red in it. Sadly, it has faded to skin color. Damn, I'm old.

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  20. Scott-- It's interesting how many pencil stick tattoos I've been reading about, since I posted this story. Wow!

    NCmountainwoman-- My twin brother just told me about that documentary. We're definitely going to find it on PBS and stream it!

    Pat-- We had been talking about writing this post for a while, and it's been wildly interesting to read about other accidental tattoos. Ah, the real one fade. Makes me wonder about the charcoal ash ones. Otzi's still look pretty good!

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  21. I want to see that documentary on the Iceman. I think everyone really enjoyed this posting, I liked all their comments. My son has some really nice tattoos.

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  22. Nora-- We want to see the documentary on Otzi as well. My twin brother watched it the other day and told me that Otzi had been found to have Lyme's disease. Isn't that wild? Roger's daughters have some beautiful tattoos as well.

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