The tattoo, in various forms, has been used ornamentally and religiously by humans for thousands of years, with examples of tattoo work found on numerous preserved prehistoric specimens. Despite some taboos surrounding tattoo, the art is popular in many places in the world.
The word tattoo is likely related to the Samoan tatau, meaning 'to strike or mark'.
Tattoos became popularized in the Western world when sailors began to explore the Pacific and return with tattoo work. In Japan, where there is a long historical tradition of tattoo, the word irezumi refers to traditional Japanese tattoos, while tattoo is used in discussions of other types of tattoo art. Tattoo owners sometimes shorten the word to tat or use the terms ink, art, or work to talk about the designs they wear.
People receive tattoos for a variety of reasons: to identify themselves with a religious or social group, to adorn their bodies, as protective symbols, to cover skin discolorations, or as an ongoing art work that never stops, considering their body's as human canvas.