This was a great experience, I never knew I could actually control so many kids as well (well, as mediocre) as I did! It was just a natural joy for Christmas, no eggnog required****subject to change
After my trip to Xi’an for four days (Tuesday to Friday) with my program, I decided to fly into Shanghai to spend the weekend meeting with the renowned Chinese, Harbin-born, tattoo artist Zhuo Dan Ting to discuss my plans for a tattoo to commemorate not only my current journey studying abroad in China, but also some of my deeply held ideological convictions.
Long before my arrival, I spent eight long months contemplating what I, personally, could do or get within China that would always remind me of the journey I am presently on long after it has concluded. Yes, pictures and stories will last a lifetime, but these can always leave us from the most unlikely and unforeseen mishaps or forces of nature. So eight months I spent lost in thought hoping to find something that would stay with me all the days of my life.
Already having a deep interest and admiration for the art of tattoos and having two tattoos myself, I decided to do some research on the tattoo culture in China. I discovered that early in Chinese culture during Han and/or Tang dynasties tattoos were used to brand criminal’s faces so that they could be easily identified throughout society. This is quite reminiscent of the early western subculture of tattoos where criminals were among the most likely to dawn such permanent art pieces on their bodies; including, but not limited to, pirates, inmates, mob members, gangs, etc.
Next, I began to wonder about the current social view of tattoos in China due to its previous history. Interestingly, I found that a new subculture of Chinese tattoo-ees and tattoo-ers is slowly emerging, particularly in Shanghai, where western culture has more of an influence in China today. It is there that tattoos are slowly losing their association with underground criminal activity by becoming a new wave of pop culture that emphasizes the ability for one to express a since of individuality in a culture that has, under more than two centuries of Confucian ideals that emphasized a group mentality, shunned such individualism.
It was later on in my research that I came across a particularly unbelievable artist by the name of Zhuo Dan Ting in an article by CNN Travel titled “China’s First Lady of Tattoo” ( https://travel.cnn.com/shanghai/life/chinas-first-lady-tattoo-630353 ).
Story to be Continued…