We give you a list of five South African Tattoo artists who create iconographic masterpieces with just ink and needle.
Body art in Africa can be traced back to ancient tattoo, piercing, neck elongation and tissue stretching rituals usually performed as spiritual rites of passage. Tattooed remains from Ancient Egypt and Nubia dating as far back as 2500 BC display various picturesque and geometric projections of identity published onto flesh. These were marks made on the skin to act as armour against evil spirits and incantations. This tells us that even in its pre-colonial context, beauty was widely deemed by Africans as a bi-product of suffering; as an attribute amplified yet not quite defined by the orchestrated traumas endured in order for it to be fully revealed to the world.
Like a sociological tattoo, the narrative of African bondage and oppression has been permanently etched onto the collective black psyche. It's a manmade blemish that grows as we grow. Its damning symbology contorts to the rhythm of our broadest gestures. The storms of colonial history are left unavoidably embroidered on all melanin enriched skins. Narratives as elastic and dynamic as the bodies they're documented on. Entire paragraphs of colonized narrative are redacted by the scars of engineered erasure, leaving even our dreams edited by white oppression.