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Having tattoos on the hands is one of those things that parents seem to really worry that their kids are going to do. And there are a lot of stigma against hand tattoos in Western culture. Let's take a look hand tattooing.
From a practical level, hand tattooing carries some physical concerns. The nerves, tendons and blood vessels in hands are very close to the surface of the skin, having almost no muscle or fat padding over them. A lot of artists and tattoo enthusiasts seem to have questions and concerns about if damage can occur from tattooing hands. As humans, we do just about EVERYTHING with our hands, which gives hand tattoos probably carry some of the highest risk for tattoos that might become infected.
Also in that vein, hands evolved to be the tools for touching and doing everything, and as such, the skin of the hands isn't quite like the rest of the body. Both hands and feet slough off and produce new skin faster than anywhere else on the body. Many people have found that hand or feet tattoos fade faster. This seems to be from the faster skin cycle and higher rate of friction that hands and feet experience. There's not much that can be done about that. Many artists therefore refuse to deal with doing any hand or feet tattoos, often telling people that the tattoos won't "take" or that they will find they have to have them recolored every few years.
Since hands are how we interact and greet the world, making marks on them is a very obvious form of physical identification. American street gangs often sport tattoos on the hands, as any gesture or movement will display signs of allegiance and membership. The location is constantly visible to the wearer allowing for frequent viewing of any emblems, which can keep any meanings or symbolism fresh in the mind of the tattoo wearer. Since it's so hard to hide the hands, making marks on them is a good way of telling society at large what you think of their values, especially when such marks are frowned upon.
Not everyone has always frowned upon hand tattoos. In Polynesian cultures, hand tattoos were worn by both men and women. For men, they could denote rankings or warrior status, i.e. if you had killed an opponent in battle. In Hawaiian culture, woman had to have earned their hand tattoos before they were allowed to perform the rituals around making their sacred staple dish of poi, a pounded root paste.
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