Tattoos in Vietnam Culture: Is it Acceptable? Here’s what you need to know about getting a tattoo in the country.
A sprinkle of Vietnam culture then – the earliest permanent inking dates back to the 14th century, fishermen used to tattoo their bodies to represent the eyes and scales of a sea monster in order to remain safe while they were out at sea.
During the 19th century when France invaded the country, tattoos acquired a bad reputation: colonists inked codes on prisoners for identification, marking them out as lawbreakers.
During the Japanese occupation in the country in the late 1940s, Irezumi tattoos were common in prison populations.
Tattoos evolved from having a bad reputation into a work of art albeit they still signified someone who had broken the law, and intricate designs were seen amongst sex workers and gang members.
Organized crime was rampant in Saigon during the later end of the 20th century, and tattoos were widely linked to this movement.
Tattoos in Vietnam Culture: Times Are Changing
Albeit the stigma about having tattoos remains, the younger generation has shown interest with body inking or what they call as body art.
Several tattoo parlors can be found across mainstream cities in Vietnam and even in the borders too.
The older generations remain suspicious thus a lot of the young ones with tattoos usually opt for minimal designs that can be easily tucked away from their families eyes.
Most tattoo parlors appeal to the younger ones. It is quite a common scene to see several young adults lining up to get a trendy design inked on their body.
The link between tattooing and a criminal underworld has meant that permanent ink in Vietnam has taken a long time to shake free of stigma.
Although there are still older generations who don’t agree with such a way of body art, the time has changed and tattooing is slowly accepted in society as a typical norm.
Gone were the days where these tattoos are associated with crimes, gangs and mafia groups but more on self-expression.
While tattooing is still frowned upon by older generations, however, attitudes are now finally starting to shift, and Vietnamese tattooing is entering a new era.
The tattoo industry is booming and safety standards are higher than ever. Tattooed tourists certainly need not worry about visiting Vietnam, or having more ink done while they’re here.