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The word "tattoo" was brought to Europe by the explorer James Cook, when they returned in 1771 from his first voyage to Tahiti & New Zealand. In his narrative of the voyage, they refers to an operation called "Ottawa". Before this it had been described as scarring, painting, or staining

A tattoo is a type of body modification, made by inserting indelible ink in to the dermis layer of the skin to alter the pigment. The first written reference to the word, "tattoo" (or Samoan "Tatar") appears in the journal of Joseph Banks <24 February 1743 19 June 1820>, the naturalist aboard Captain Cook's ship the HMS Endeavor: "I shall now mention the way they mark themselves indelibly, each of them is so marked by their humor or disposition".

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