Ritual and tradition have been common and constant factors in tattooing. In Borneo, for example, women bore a symbol on their arms to denote their specific skills, thus increasing their potential for marriage, whilst tattoos worn around the fingers and wrist were said to ward off illness. Clan or society membership have also often been symbolised by tattoos throughout history. It has also been believed that the wearer of an image calls the spirit of that image. For example, the ferocity of a tiger would belong to the person baring this tattoo.
Although controversial, many believe tattooing originates in Egypt, from the time of the Pharaohs and the construction of the Great Pyramids. As the Egyptian Empire spread, so did the art of tattooing and around 2000 BC it reached China.
In ancient Greece, the tattoo was used to mark spies while the Romans used the tattoo to mark slaves and criminals. In western Asia, the Ainu people used tattoos to signify social status. The Ainu were said to have carried the art to Japan where is became a mark of religion. Dayak warriors who had 'taken a head' were signified by a tattoo on the hand. The Polynesians employed tattoos to denote status, tribal communities and rank. They carried this art to New Zealand where a facial tattoo, Moko, was developed. The Danes, Saxons and Norse were often tattooed with their family crest.