Tattooed marks are created by hand-tapping the ink into the skin using this kind of hand tapping needles.
Traditional Japanese tattoos are still "hand-poked," that is, the ink is inserted beneath the skin using non-electrical, hand-made and hand held tools with needles of sharpened steel. Hand-poked tattoos are less abrasive on the skin than machine tattoos, and often hurt less in comparison.
Traditional Hawaiian hand-tapped tattoos are experiencing a renaissance, after the practice was nearly extinguished in the years following Western contact. The process involves lengthy protocols and prayers and is considered a sacred rite more than an application of artwork. The tattooist chooses the design, rather than the wearer, based on genealogical information. Each design is symbolic of the wearer's personal responsibility and role in the community.
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