(Robert S. Bianchi, 1988)
There was little anthropological attention to tattooing in the early part of the century because of preconceived notions of its insignificance to cultural analysis. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec cultures performed tattooing and scarification, and that the practice is thousands of years old in Asian cultures. (Arnold Rubin, 1988)
Although tattooing was practiced in pre-Christian Europe, the word tattoo does not appear in English until Captain John Cook imported it after a journey to the Pacific Islands in the eighteenth century. Captain Cook claimed the Tahitians used the word tatua, from ta, meaning "to strike or knock," for the marks they made upon their bodies. Captain Cook recorded this word as "tattaw." The Polynesian word tapu, from which the word taboo derives, indicates the status of the person while being tattooed. (Irving Goldman, 1970)
Although no connection has been made between the words tattoo and taboo, it seems highly likely that they are related. While enduring the process of acquiring socially meaningful marks, the tattooee is being formed and shaped into an acceptable member of society. ...