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Tattoos and Piercings

This guide contains information regarding the history, cultural aspects and health issues of tattoos and body piercings.

Films on Demand Service

There are a number of videos available on this subject, both on the internet and through our available databases. This page features some useful examples. For more, we recommend accessing the Films on Demand database.


If you have a tattoo, you’re part of a rich cultural history that dates back at least 8,000 years. Where did this practice of body modification come from, and how has its function changed over time? Addison Anderson tracks the history of getting inked.

For nearly twenty years, anthropologist and photographer Lars Krutak has been on a mission to document the vanishing world of Indigenous tattooing culture. His research explores these ancient human traditions, revealing how this language of the skin exposed individual desires and fears as well as cultural values and ancestral ties that were written the body. Lars Krutak is a tattoo anthropologist, author and television host who has spent the last two decades traveling the world, learning about unique tattoos and the meanings behind them.  Lars has a special interest in preserving Indigenous knowledge of tattooing, as this ancient culture has begun to vanish quickly around the globe. Having published several books on the subject, and hosting a Discovery Channel series, entitled “Tattoo Hunter”, Lars has worked to reveal the cultural diversity of tattoos, the biographies they represent and what they say about being human. Lars’ latest project is a recently published book highlighting the Indigenous tattoo history of the North American continent.

The tattoo that seemed like such a good idea in your teens may not be so awesome now. A new laser is removing tattoos in a fraction of the time it used to take.