Feb. 15th, 2010

agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Awhile back I word-vomited at you posted here about Haida-style tattoos, my love thereof, and my ambivalence about actually getting one as a tattoo. It seemed like sort of a preposterous question to actually take to the tribe -- "Hi, I know nothing about your culture, but I'd like your permission to tattoo your artwork on my body, 'kay?" -- and there's surprisingly little information out there about the etiquette of tattooing Haida art or Haida-inspired designs, or what the designs themselves actually mean. The tribe's totems and crests are intensely personal, but what about a derivative or original design? Is there particular meaning to, for example, one of Bill Reid's pieces of a single animal that can be seen on countless postcards in the northwest? Would making up one's own Haida-inspired art for a tattoo be offensive, in the way that copying or emulating a Maori ta moka is? I ultimately decided that, much as I love the style of the art and no matter how much certain stories speak to me, it wouldn't be appropriate for me to get a tattoo that looks like Haida work. Instead I'm planning to get either celtic/viking-inspired work of my own design, or designs from the Pazyryk mummy, whose society is old enough that nobody's really entirely sure what the symbols mean. (Or if somebody does know what they mean, they are clearly not talking to the scientists who excavated the tombs.)

Anyway, [personal profile] malnpudl and I went to a tattoo convention this past weekend, where I talked with an artist who had a Haida-style frog tattoo in his portfolio, so I'd been pondering it again. Today I stumbled across a great post by a north-west native artist on Deviantart. (I'd be more specific, but I haven't seen from his profile and suchforth whether he's Haida or Tsimshian or what. It's possible I'm blind.) It answers many of my questions quite succinctly. :D You should also have a look at his gallery, because his work is gorgeous. He does do commissions, including tattoos, but I think I'm going to stick to designing my own.

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agentotter

December 2010

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