India Ink

Tattooing in Sarneth, India..

“The tattoo artist was set up on the street market in front of a row of Buddhist temples, the recipient was getting a very simple black “Aum” tattoo on his arm. I saw many street tattoo artists during my time in India, as well as many tattooed hands, Aums, swastikas and Hindi symbols.”

– Staci Civins

25 thoughts on “India Ink

  1. i dont know, i think in certain “life experiences” (if your outside of India or countries where this is apparently common) i think i’d take this plunge and take advantage of this situation. for me at least, though it is stupid considering the sanitation and safe tattoos that are available to us here, it will never be the same. in some situations such as this i could wave the sanitation for the sheer joy and experience, even if others thought it was appalling and stupid.

  2. can we stop with the “eww, its not sterile! eww. he’s not wearing gloves!” criticisms? if you’re not comfortable with the conditions, then just don’t get work done there. i’m pretty sure autoclaves, latex safe nitrile gloves, tattoo goo, and all that jazz hasn’t been around as long as the art of tattooing has. and it seems they’ve been doing just fine.

  3. I have it under good authority that the “camera person” was wearing properly fitted gloves during the taking of this photo.

  4. It’s India. A great deal of that country is below the poverty line. I think that gloves are really the least of these peoples issues when it comes to trying to scrape enough money to feed themselves and put clothes on their backs. I am curious though as to how tattoos in this condition turn out.

  5. You see the Om symbol on may Indian people, mainly on the right hand. I saw a similar set up in Mussouri in the north west Himalyaya, it too was modblogged some months back. The needles were soldered into the machine with no way of changing them between clients. In answer to Christian the tats I saw looked fairly cool on the darker asian skin. Not art, devotion. Sarnath is a very Holy place just North of Varanasi, the client probably went into the Ganges soon after this tat. Sanitation is non existant just like traveling back 1000 years, but with 21st century polution. I wanted one for sure but I want Hep C less!

  6. See, i find it amusing that people are saying i’m “criticizing” them for not wearing gloves. No, i’m just stating a fact. The people in the picture are not wearing gloves, which probably isn’t the most sanitary thing. And regardless of where it is, it still made me cringe. That isn’t a criticism, that is an OPINION. However, i also said that it’s a cultural thing….and recognize that not everywhere is going to be as clean and sterile as the shops i get tattooed in.

    Plus, as someone with a very weak immune system, who constantly gets colds/strep,sinus infections/flared up piercings, etc… I couldn’t imagine getting anything done anywhere where they didn’t take all the possible safety precautions.

    also number 4- you said “criticisms”, last i checked i only made one comment. But whatever. go on with your bad self!! :) imo.

  7. No need to state “probably isn’t” when discussing sanitary issues of not wearing gloves. It’s proven that not using “protection” isn’t safe when having sex or getting tattooed/tattooing.

    These folks don’t get diseases because they believe in something. Those of us who rely on the medical gods aren’t allowed miracles because we’re fucking up the laws of nature.

    I almost didn’t go see Elton John in concert because I thought “man, it might not be safe…” then my mom said “You dumb shit when the hell are you going to be able to do that again? You only get one shot at life, don’t fuck it up.”
    My mother is a blessing.

  8. I saw something similar in Santa Cruz, Bolivia..
    We considered it for a second, and then realized that although the artists were changing the needles, the previously used needles had been dipped in the same ink pot. I think we have a video of it somewhere.

  9. The tattoo artist should have a notice board up
    ‘Free nasty disease with every tattoo’
    It would be kinda hard which one to choose tho, aids, hep B etc etc

  10. I live in Bolivia and people do tattoos and piercings in like random stalls at the market. I’d agree, its a cultural thing and it needs to be respected and I don’t think there have been many problems with HIV or anything! I’d say let the culture survive, if you don’t agree with it, don’t get a tattoo there.

  11. sparklinglime, how would you feel say if your girlfriend got a tattoo and passed HIV to you would you still be so supportive of the ‘random stalls’?
    In this day and age there are so many diseases out there and fair enough its up to the individual who takes a risk with their own lives, but what about the innocent who could die from your actions?
    You dont think there have been many problems with HIV do you know that for definate I would be very interested in the statistics?

  12. i think the ‘swastikas’ is a mistake, there’s actually a symbol like a mirror image swastika that’s hindu.

  13. When I visited The Philippines I saw a lot of the same thing, plus a lot of amazing artists. I would’ve LOVED to have some work done there to commemorate my trip but I was afraid of Hep C and HIV more.

  14. “These folks don’t get diseases because they believe in something.”

    Haha, you made my day. Seldom I have the opportunity to meet someone who is out of touch with reality in that extent :D Hey, if they don’t get sick, people here wouldn’t have to be worried about those unsterile needles :D So many problems with hygiene would be fixed if only people believed enough “in something” not to get sick!

  15. This shot was taken near the neighboring city of Varanasi, which is the most polluted city in the world with the Ganges river flowing through it, although it is the holiest for the Hindi people. About a month after I took this photo, I was attacked by a monkey and had to seek medical treatment the next few weeks afterwards as I traveled… I never once saw any gloves and only saw pots used to boil tools, no autoclaves… I wouldn’t expect anything more actually in any of the clinics and hospitals I went to.

    @22, I stayed at a hotel called “Hotel Swastika” in the desert region of Rajastan, just for the sheer irony of being Jewish. Its not the same as WWII dear.

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