This summer visitors to The Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum will be greeted by the image of a fully tattooed ' Warrior' from the Marquesas, dated 1803.
'Wrapped in Images', uncovers the history of tattooing that has been practiced for many centuries. It wasn't until the Cook expeditions in 1768 that the first recorded practice and the word Tattoo (tattaw tatau) appeared in the English language. Sydney Parkinson's (an artist aboard the Endeavor) striking drawings, gave the world a first glimpse of the intricate designs of the Pacific Islanders.
Not long after, whalers, adventurers, mutineers, beachcombers, artists and writers reinforced the myth of this incredible Paradise through their stories and rich images.
From its earliest roots to its rediscovery, 'Wrapped in Images' provides a timeline of incidents in history that include the mutiny on Captain Bligh's Bounty and Herman Melville's desertion aboard the New Bedford whaler Acushnet in Nuku Hiva in 1842. Artists Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse referred to the South Pacific as a 'paradise' and painted in rich bold style's and vivd colors.
Paul Gauguin arrived in Tahiti in 1891 and described the Marquesans as possessing" an unheard of sense of decoration".
Whalers and Sailors
Tattooing has been linked with the seafaring life of the navy for centuries. During the latter part of the eighteenth century, the enthusiasm for tattooing spread rapidly among sailors, and it is mentioned in ships' journals and logs dating from this period.