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Re: [SCA-JML] "Organized" crime and tattoos

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  • Anthony J. Bryant
    ... Remember that Traditional in Japanese cultural contexts means pre 20th C. Tattooing to mark criminals was codified in Edo, but I don t know by how much
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 26, 2000
      Ogami Itto wrote:

      > IIRC, the yakuza was (is?) a post-period phenomenom. So, this
      > question is probably OT, but...
      > I'm looking for information regarding the history of tattooing
      > in Japan, particularly as they were used by organized crime groups.
      > (Of course, there is a big chance that I could be completely comfused
      > by modern mythology in this matter.) I have seen several
      > photographic art books giving examples of modern tattoos done in what
      > they call the traditional style, but they don't give a lot of real
      > history.

      Remember that "Traditional" in Japanese cultural contexts means "pre 20th

      Tattooing to mark criminals was codified in Edo, but I don't know by how
      much the practice predated Edo. Typically, it would be something like a
      broad ring tattooed around the the upper arm for an occurrence of
      X-offense, a chevron or some such mark on the arm for Y-offense, (possibly
      some mark on the forehead for Z-offense), and so on. It's been postulated
      that the practice of full-body tattooing was developed to "camouflage" the
      marks of judicial tattooing.

      > Secondly, would it have been acceptable in the sengoku era for a
      > buke to sport tattoos?

      No. Never. Even today in Japan, tattoos are signs of the lower class.
      Officers and gentlemen do not sport tattoos.

      > Please forgive the somewhat chaotic nature of my thoughts today;
      > the holiday season has worn me out.

      That's what holidays are for.

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