Prehistoric man was thought to have practised tattooing, that is, puncturing the skin with tools dipped in pigment that left a permanent mark. And mummies with decorative tattoos have been discovered in many parts of the world. Yet for nearly as long as there has been tattooing, there has been condemnation. The Romans considered decorative tattooing barbaric, which is still evident in the Latin word for tattoo, stigma, and used tattoos to mark slaves and criminals.
Despite its deep roots in ancient cultures, tattooing had fallen out of practice in Europe by the time Britain's Captain Cook set sail for the Polynesian Islands in 1768.
Though Cook and his men were not the first Europeans to encounter Oceanic tattooing, they were the first to record the practice systematically. Cook also introduced to the English language the word tattoo, taken from the Tahitian.
Cook's men did not fully understand the significance of tattooing among the Oceanic people, for whom the designs were symbolic protection against earthly enemies. Yet the sailors were fascinated and eager to be marked themselves.
They adopted the practice with gusto, designing mariner motifs of their own. A turtle meant a sailor had crossed the equator, and an anchor that he had sailed the Atlantic. Crucifixion scenes were also popular motifs --a vain attempt to avoid being beaten, as it was hoped no one would dare hit the image of Christ.
Today, all types of people get tattooed. Though the art was adopted from distant cultures and adapted to suit Western tastes, the attraction of tattooing has changed very little.
I. READING COMPREHENSION
1. Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE? Copy the evidence from the text. No marks are given for only TRUE or FALSE.
a) Fashionable people in the Roman world had tattoos.
- FALSE: "The Romans considered decorative tattooing barbaric, which is still evident in the Latin word for tattoo, stigma, and used tattoos to mark slaves and criminals."
b) The origin of the word tattoo in English is unknown.
2. In your own words and based on the ideas in the text, answer the following questions.
a) Why did the Polynesian Islanders get tattooed?
- They considered tattoos as a kind of amulet that they wore as a charm or preventive against real enemies.
b) Why did the sailors choose to have crosses tattooed?
- Because they thought that the image of the cross on their bodies would be respected and so no one would dare to beat them.
II. USE OF ENGLISH
3. Find the words in the text that mean:
- a) embalmed human bodies (paragraph 1): mummies
- b) almost (paragraph 1): nearly
- e) profound (paragraph 1): deep
- d) completely (paragraph 2): fully
4. Complete the following sentences. Use the appropriate form of the word in brackets when given.
- a) Before becoming (become) King of England, George V had a dragon tattooed on his arm.
- b) "What does the word 'stigma' mean?" "It means a mark or sign of shame."
- c) Winston Churchill's mother, whose wrist was tattooed with a serpent, tried to cover it with a bracelet when in public.
- d) In the past, tattoos were linked (link) to criminals, but today the tattoo is worn (wear) proudly by celebrities.