Black lines tattoos: what do they represent?

Simple black lines of different thicknesses surrounding the arms, wrists, or legs. It often happens to see them browsing through photos of tattoos but have you ever wondered what their meaning is?

To answer this question you have to go to Japan in the 1700s, a time when having a tattoo was a symbol of infamy. The black lines are depopulated and are part of the minimal tattoos, very popular in recent years. Along with triangles, short lines, and punctuation marks as dashes they embellish the bodies of the many who appreciate this particular kind of tattoo. Considered to be extremely simple and elegant, they actually have a dark meaning that comes from the customs of ancient Japan.

Japanese culture

Unlike the Western world, Japan still has many taboos. Tattoos are part of this large category of actions that should not be committed and speeches that should not be talked about. Just think that even today it is not possible to access certain places such as gyms and spas if you have any type of tattoo. In antiquity, more precisely in the Edo period which extends from about 1600 to 1870, there was a distinction between two particular types of tattoo: on the one hand, we have the Irezumi, tattoos that are performed as a result of a fault and that function as a permanent punishment, on the other hand, the Horimono, voluntary tattoos that are performed for aesthetic and spiritual purposes by free men.

The black lines, in this particular historical period, represented one of the 5 punishments that the Japanese inflicted on those who mocked the law and transgressed it. Whoever had one or more black lines on his arm (the area where they were normally performed) was forced to be slandered for life and could be easily recognized. On the basis of the severity of the sentence, lines were added up to the stipulated ones.

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