Re-discovery Rather Tan Discovery; The Voyages of Cpt. James Cook:

Why the title of this article is Re-discovery, we will get into in a bit. But first of all we would like to talk about a man, which many of our more history savvy fans might know off. Captain James Cook, who between 1766 and 1779, made 3 voyages to the south pacific. It is well known by historians. That when Cook and his crew would return to Europe, many of them would be adorning new tattoos. Tattoos that were done by the natives of Polynesia, souvenirs to go along with their tales, of heavily tattooed “savages”.

Indeed cooks science officer, Sir Joseph Banks. Who was a high ranking member of the aristocracy, returned with a tattoo on his own body. Something which captain cook, had not himself dared to do. Cooks  own men, also got tattoos and they started the tradition (in Europe), of sailors adorning their bodies with tattoos. Cook was even credited with using the word tattoo for the first time, a word that he based on the native “Tatau”.

However, what has been called a discovery by many historians. Indeed, what has been retold as cook bringing tattooing to Europe. Is not exactly the whole truth, and as some historians can testify too, could even be called false.


Tattoos were already a part of European history. They had just been driven underground by several different factors. But as even Darwin has noted, tattoos were a part of all indigenous people of Europe’s culture and past. Some later findings within history, have even proven that for many European culture, tattoos survived as a common practice, well up into the middle ages.

So what people called a discovery, would actually be more correctly classified, as a re-discovery. In a way the only new thing about tattoos Cook brought to Europe, was the Polynesian style, culture and method of tattooing.
But he did indeed not bring tattooing itself to Europe, he brought it back to Europe.

We hope you enjoyed this little slice of tattoo history.  Please keep your eye on Mediazink for more awesome articles. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookYouTube and Instagram (@Mediazink_Official), for more awesome articles and other content.