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Tattoo in Early China

Carrie E. Reed
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 120, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 2000), pp. 360-376
DOI: 10.2307/606008
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/606008
Page Count: 17
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Tattoo in Early China
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Abstract

The paper introduces various modes of tattoo as described in several types of pre-modern Chinese texts. Although the study takes a widely cross-temporal view, covering texts from the Zhou to the Ming dynasties, its organizing focus is the twenty-five entries on tattoo found in the ninth-century miscellany, Youyang zazu. The author of this work, Duan Chengshi (c. 800-863), is remarkable because of his extraordinary interest in all types of tattoo, but particularly for his meticulous description of the voluntary decorative tattoos of his contemporaries. Given the fact that in China permanent body-marking was highly stigmatized, and cause for social ostracism, the information given in the You-yang zazu and other texts on tattoo is thought-provoking and valuable.

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