Image above, via @pedestrian, of Iranian photographer Mehran Mafi Bordar documenting tattoos in Iran.
In an article for Al-Monitor, Tattooed in Iran, Mehrnaz Samimi writes about contemporary tattoo culture in a country that bans the art form, and yet, its popularity continues to rise within the underground.
What I found particularly interesting is what Samimi writes of the role of women in tattooing:
Tattoo artist Pari works in four different salons in Tehran. She told Al-Monitor that she travels to Babol, in the north, once every two months to do tattoos. Babol is her hometown, so she knows plenty of people there who find customers for her. She says she makes a decent income and gets by just fine as a tattoo artist.
Giving and getting tattoos are illegal in Iran. Apparently, what upsets the authorities perhaps even more than the notion of getting a tattoo is that female tattoo artists outnumber men, and not all of their customers are women.
Also interesting, the increase in popularity of tattoos has lead to greater crackdowns, according to Samimi:
Many Iranian "thugs" have tattooed bodies, a negative aspect that the government takes advantage of to discourage it. That tattooing has become part of their subculture lends it negative connotations. The police force has in recent years paraded these alleged thugs before the public, mostly in southern Tehran, to belittle them and send a message to onlookers -- "Let this be a lesson to you." Many of them have committed petty crimes or have intimidated their neighbors. In some cases, their tattoos have been pinpointed as part of this "lesson."
Despite such government efforts at public shaming, tattooing has not fallen out of favor. Raha, a student of electrical engineering in Yazd, revealed to Al-Monitor that she got all three of her tattoos during trips to Tehran to visit her relatives. She says her family has no idea that she has them, adding, "My brothers would kill me if they find out."
The article also briefly notes popular designs and tattoo tidbits like average costs of a tattoo ($100 for a small piece; $3,000 for medium-sized man's full body). The cost is higher if you want "American ink."
"Tattooed in Iran" is a quick look at one writer's view of tattooing in her culture and what people are willing to do for the art. Read more here.