A tattoo is a form of body modification made by inserting ink, dyes, and/or pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to form a design. The art of making tattoos is tattooing. Tattoos fall into three broad categories: purely decorative (with no specific meaning), symbolic (with a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer), and pictorial (a depiction of a specific person or item). In addition, tattoos can be used for identification such as ear tattoos on livestock as a form of branding. Terminology The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Samoan word tatau, meaning 'to strike'. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of tattoo as 'In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian (Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, etc. ) tatau. In Marquesan, tatu. ' Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing had been described in the West as painting, scarring or staining. The etymology of the body modification term is not to be confused with the origins of the word for the military drumbeat or performance see military tattoo. In this case, the English word tattoo is derived from the Dutch word taptoe. It is called Tisheret and Washem in the Amazigh (Berber) culture.
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