Tattoos seem almost commonplace in modern American, so it may be hard to believe they evolved from the early days of global exploration, when Western mariners were introduced to body art in South Pacific islands.

A new exhibit at the Maritime Museum of San Diego—The Art of the Sailor—focuses on the history and evolution of the tattoo and a closely related art, scrimshaw.

Scrimshaw transferred the idea of tattooing from the skin to whale tooth and bone, with the use of pigment and the skill of engraving.

Indelible and highly personal, tattoos and scrimshaw capture in ink the stories of our maritime culture. The Art of the Sailor exhibit runs through the end of the year.

On Sunday, March 30,the museum will host a public event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with presentations and activities showcasing the skill and artistry of tattoos and scrimshaw. Hands on activities will be available for children.

Tickets to the event are $16 for adults and include museum admission. Children have free admission and get to make their own scrimshaw to take home .

The maritime museum has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active sailing ship, the Star of India.

— From a Maritime Museum of San Diego press release

Show comments

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.

One reply on “Maritime Museum Showcases Artistry of Tattoos, Scrimshaw”

Comments are closed.