Gishiwajinden

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Earliest known description of Japanese tattooing in 3 AD.

The custom of tattooing in Japan is described in the third century Chinese history. Gishiwajinden, which is the oldest record mentioning Japan. Japan is called Wa, and the custom of tattooing is mentioned in this text: The men of "Wa" tattoo their faces and paint their bodies with designs. They are fond of diving for fish and shells. Long ago they decorated their bodies in order to protect themselves from large fish and later these designs became ornamental. Body painting differs among the various tribes with the position and size of the designs vary according to the rank of individuals; they smear their bodies with pink and scarlet just as Chinese use powder.

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