From time to time I like to share some historical tattoo- or body-mod-related content. In this case, I was browsing through old (as old as I could find, anyway) issues of academic and medical journals to see just what was being written about tattoos 150 years ago. What I found was this interesting read about a Greek pirate being (punitively?) tattooed over his entire body, palms and soles included. Sounds pretty harrowing. It would be interesting to find more on this person. I’ll see what I can dig up.
The snippet from an 1871 issue of The British Medical Journal:
The text reads:
There is now exhibiting in medical circles in Vienna a remarkable instance of tattooing of the whole body. According to his own account, the man, a Greek by birth, had been a pirate, and had also carried on brigandage on the continent. Seven years ago, he and five companions were taken prisoners by one of the wild tribes of Asia. Three of them were put to death ; but this man, with two others, was preserved alive and literally tattooed over the entire body. The proceeding caused horrible pain ; and his two companions died under the treatment. His body is covered head to foot with delineations of men, animals, and fabulous things. The colouring on the chest and abdomen, being vermilion ; here and there, about a line’s breadth of the normal colour of the skin can be seen. The hands and the soles of the feet are coloured red, but have no figures. On the face and neck are inscriptions in characters resembling Arabic. The skin has the general appearance, to the sight and touch, of bluish-grey velvet. He attends the General Hospital in Vienna ; and Professor Hebra, who showed him to his class a few days ago, has had him photographed in various attitudes.
Tattooed From Head To Foot. (1871). The British Medical Journal, 2(566), 532-532. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/25230713