The horseshoe tattoo: An ancient practice

People have been tattooing each other for over five thousand years, possibly since the end of the last Ice Age. Tattoos have been used to mark clans, indicate social class, identify criminals, demonstrate religious pride, flaunt authority, advertise special skills, ward off evil, and bring good luck. The earliest known proof of deliberate inking was found on the frozen body of the “Iceman” discovered in 1991 by hikers in the Alps. At first thought to be a deceased mountaineer, the man turned out to be a member of an ancient Neolithic community. His body revealed numerous areas with short lines pigmented by charcoal; since each area covered lesions of degenerated bone, they may represent the first actual evidence of acupuncture. For whatever reason, the practice of tattooing remains common all over the world and seems to be increasing as a means of self-expression.

horseshoe tattoo

Picture: 123rf

How tattoos are made
The making of a tattoo. Picture: vikingtrailtattoo

How tattoos are made

The word itself comes from the Polynesian “tatau,” and refers to marking the skin as well as puncturing. Techniques vary, utilizing sharpened pieces of shell, bone, wood, stone, or metal. Pigments such as soot are rubbed into the cuts or pricks. Another method employs sewing needles pulling pigment-saturated threads made of tendon, plant fiber, or cloth through the skin. The first electric tattoo machine was invented by an Irish tattoo artist in New York in 1891 and was based on Thomas Edison’s electric pen design. The tattoo gun contained barrels for ink which it injected into the deep layers of the skin by means of a hypodermic apparatus.

Where does it hurt?

Does it hurt?

Pain is a very personal experience, different for each person. Although the physical trauma of being tattooed occurs in the skin, the brain is the location where the pain is interpreted. Fear usually intensifies the sensations, while anticipation of a positive outcome decreases the severity as well as the memory. If you intend to get a tattoo, be sure the artist has been approved by the appropriate health inspectors. Observe the artist for hygienic practices such as washing hands, applying gloves, and using clean needles. Before proceeding, a competent tattooist will ensure that you’re in good medical condition and willing to participate in follow-up care. Certain risks always exist, including allergic reaction, infection, and scarring. It’s also important to remember that tattoos fade and blur over time. Getting a tattoo is comparable to getting married: be sure you’re ready and able to do it right or you will be sorry!

Enduring luck

A few examples of good luck horseshoe art show that the variety is as great as the human imagination.

Lucky horseshoe tattoo
Horseshoe tattoo

Good luck horseshoe
Lucky horseshoe tattoo
Good luck horseshoe tattoo

Good luck horseshoe
A real good luck horseshoe

An easier way

Many people find that owning a talisman is a more pleasurable way to attract good luck, and giving it as a gift is even better. You know your horseshoe will never hurt or fade!

Look in the shop for good luck horseshoes!