Man with a full back tattoo of Michael and the Dragon adapted from the bible engravings by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld.
Some Christians take issue with tattooing, upholding the Hebrew prohibition (see below). The Hebrew prohibition is based on interpreting Leviticus 19:28—"Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you"—so as to prohibit tattoos, and perhaps even makeup.
Interpretations of the passage vary, however. Some believe that it refers specifically to, and exclusively prohibits, an ancient form of self-mutilation during mourning (as discussed in the Judaism section). Under this interpretation, tattooing is permitted to Jews and Christians. Another interpretation is that it refers only to the tattooing of ink with ashes of deceased family.
Others hold that the prohibition of Leviticus 19:28, regardless of its interpretation, is not binding upon Christians—just as prohibitions like "nor shall there come upon you a garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff" (Lev. 19:19) are not binding—because it is part of the Jewish ceremonial law, binding only upon the Jewish people (see New Covenant § Christian view).
In the Catholic Church during the Crusades, it was ruled in the Council of Northumberland that religious tattoos were permissible, and even "praiseworthy". At the time, many Catholic knights and pilgrims made use of tattoos, especially at the completion of a pilgrimage to the Catholic shrines in the Holy Land. Some Catholic military orders, such as the Knights of St. John of Malta, sported tattoos to show their allegiance. However in some regions, a decline often occurred in other cultures following European efforts to convert aboriginal and indigenous people to Western religious and cultural practices that held tribal tattooing to be a "pagan" or "heathen" activity. Within some traditional indigenous cultures, tattooing takes place within the context of a rite of passage between adolescence and adulthood (without any explicit religious subtext).
Catholic Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina utilised tattooing of crosses for perceived protection against forced conversion to Islam and enslavement during the Ottoman occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (see Christian tattooing in Bosnia and Herzegovina). This form of tattooing continued long past its original motivation. Tattooing was performed during springtime or during special religious celebrations such as the Feast of St. Joseph, and consisted mostly of Christian crosses on hands, fingers, forearms, and below the neck and on the chest.
Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy
Orthodox Coptic Christians who live in Egypt commonly tattoo themselves with the symbols of Coptic crosses on their right wrists for similar historical reasons. From there, the tradition spread throughout Eastern Christian communities such as the Ethiopian, Armenian, Syriac and Maronite Churches. Commemorative tattoos are also traditionally done on pilgrims who complete a visit to Jerusalem.
No comments available ...