Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
When I think about tattooing, I conjure one of two images: cheesy frat boys with Taz tats on their shoulders or the complete freaks with “Fuck the Law” emblazoned across their chests. Both of these styles of tattooing are based, of course, on modern Western culture. But if I’ve learned one thing from Steve Gilbert’s Tattoo History: A Source Book, it’s that when it comes to tattooing, non-Western cultures kick our itty-bitty shamrock-pricked asses. In his extensively researched book, Gilbert details cultures where getting your face tattooedlike the natives of both New Zealand and the Arcticor getting completely inked, including anus and genitalsas happens in Samoaare totally commonplace practices. Kind of makes the discomfort of getting that tribal band tattooed around your arm seem insignificant, doesn’t it? Gilbert will be giving a slide show and a talk based on his new book at 1 p.m. at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, 6900 Georgia Ave. NW. Free. (202) 782-2200. (Stefan Grudza)