Tattoos in a Conservative Society

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The world has become a much smaller place in the last decade. Today Pakistani culture is more exposed to the world and its influence than ever before. Although there me be resistance to new cultures, as Pakistan is mostly conservative, tattoos have started to become increasingly popular. Many tattoo artists set up shops in all the major urban cities of Pakistan. The trend of tattoos has begun to spread in Pakistan. Many of these artists are either trained from abroad or are self-taught to some extent. These artists also greatly vary in their styles. There are thousands of techniques and nuances that go into the tattooing process, and these artists are all experts in their particular styles.

Tattoos have existed in human culture for a long time. Ancient tribes would use crude tools and ink made in their homes for tribal tattoos. For some cultures getting a tattoo is even a right of passage. As the process involves pain and discomfort, it is even considered a spiritual process. The permanent nature and the commitment one needs to get a tattoo often keeps many people away from getting a tattoo. In Islam tattoo are especially considered tabooed as most people think of them as haram (forbidden) while others thinking they are disliked and discouraged in Islam. Since there are no exact words forbidding tattoos many Muslims are fine with getting tattooed. Primarily tattooing is disliked as it is seen as changing God’s creation and also harming yourself.

In modern times the process of getting a tattoo has been modernized. State of the art machines with surgical precision is used to inject safe ink in between the layers of the skin. Although, in countries where tattoos are seen as an important part of their culture, tattooing is done in the traditional way.

For people today, tattoos are a way of expressing themselves. After all the permanence becomes part of their identity. Shehroz John a tattoo artist with 12 years of experience has a studio located in Bahria Town Islamabad called Ink Grail Tattoos. He does custom and non-custom tattoos on appointments. Customers can work with him to design their own tattoos and he then draws up a few options. Depending on the size and details of the tattoo the process can take up to 8 hours. He charges based on the size of the tattoo and how much work will go in the details. Shehroz acknowledges that he cannot charge the same rates as in the western countries as tattooing is still not very popular in Pakistan, and he believes that the high prices may discourage people from getting tattoos. You can get in touch with him through Instagram.

I had the pleasure to get my first tattoo done by him. The experience was amazing and everything I had hoped for. He guided me through the whole process. From designing the tattoo to what I should do before the appointment and most importantly the aftercare of the tattoo itself. While getting tattooed by him, we had amazing conversations and time went by quickly.

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Musa Qaiser
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