Human skin tattooed with the words 'République Française', France, 1850-1920

Made:
1850-1920 in France
maker:
Unknown

Human skin tattooed with star, butterfly, rose, and inscribed Republique Francaise, French, 1850-1920, purchased from La Valette in 1929

The words République Française (French Republic) have been tattooed on to human skin. The tattooed skin was purchased by one of Henry Wellcome’s collecting agents, Captain Johnston-Saint, in June 1929 from Dr Villette, a Parisian surgeon. Villette worked in military hospitals and collected and preserved hundreds of samples from the autopsies of French soldiers. In the late 1800s, tattoos were often seen as markers of criminal tendencies, or ‘primitiveness’. Medical men tried to interpret common images and symbols. Tattoos were also used as a tool for identification, a practice that continues today.

Details

Category:
Anatomy & Pathology
Object Number:
A551
type:
tattoo
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
credit:
Wellcome Trust

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