#ROMInk “Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art”

My two tattoos: “Kyrie Eleison,” (Lord have mercy in Greek) and “Dona nobis pacem,” (give us peace in Latin)



This month the ROM opened a new exhibit, which I had expected to be really awesome. It explained that they would be looking at the history of tattoos and how the culture around them has changed all over the world. I was very excited to go, but was a little disappointed.


Most of the exhibit were drawings of tattoos with historical context attached. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while, why I didn’t like the exhibit, but I think it comes down to the fact that tattoos are so interesting and cool to me, that they might have made it too academic. Yes, there were pictures of tattooed sailors and their penises, but I felt like a lot of things might have been skipped over.


I was most interested in this picture, one of a set of three, of inmates in El Salvador, who were tattooed for intimidation tactics, and meant different things for their gangs in and out of jail. The pictures were huge and poignant. And scary.


One of the things I learned was that in Japan, tattoos were illegal because they were used by gangs. However, in other parts of Asia, tattoos celebrated the entrance into adulthood and other ceremonies.


That night my friends came over for our weekly dinner, and I made strawberry daiquiris to celebrate getting into my dream Master’s program! I can’t wait! Nic and I will be moving back to Ottawa for September (once he’s done his Master’s) where I’ll be attending uOttawa for the Master’s in Globalization and International Development. It’s going to be so awesome!

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