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‘Nothing Satanic about tattoos’

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A TOP tattoo artist in Harare, Chrispen “Crissgoldfinger” Chitongo, says it is misplaced to associate tattoos with Satanism as different people seek the body markings for a variety of reasons.

BY PRECIOUS CHIDA

Chitongo told NewsDay Weekender yesterday that it was just an assumption that tattoos are demonic markings because some people simply use them for dedication purposes, particularly as a lifelong expression of love.

“People do it (tattooing) for different reasons, but I can say they usually do it as a dedication to someone. But it means nothing (apart from that) and is not connected to any kind of beliefs,” he said.

“Some of them are names, dates of birth or death days of loved ones and others come as portraits like the one I did recently, which was of President (Robert) Mugabe with the caption, ‘Revolutionary Icon’. So, can we then say it is evil to put our President’s face as a tattoo?”

Chitongo urged people to start embracing the dynamism of the world saying people should not judge the art negatively.

“Tattoos have always been there. However, we are now in a new generation and things are evolving too, so I think people should cope with it rather than judge people who have them,” he said

“It cannot mean anything evil unless you attach that to it yourself. It doesn’t make you a thug or a hooligan. It is art. Some people hang their art on walls, we wear ours.”

A number of local celebrities, including dancehall chanter Soul Jah Love and Premiership football team Ngezi Platinum Stars defender Patson Jaure, have tattoos.

Soul Jah Love says his tattoos have a deep meaning, as they date back to his past life.

“A tattoo symbolises something permanent and mine have a deep meaning. They tell a story about my life and the journey begins from my date of birth, which is one of my tattoos,” he said.

Chitongo, who has been a professional ink master for three years, said it takes experience and professional skills to be on top of the game.

“Yes, it does need a lot of experience and professional skills so that you will know the type of skin and the size and of the needles you use for the (particular) skin you are working on because people do have different pigments,” he said.

The artist said since Zimbabwe does not have a professional tattoo training school, his dream is to establish the first one.

Chitongo stressed the importance of hygiene in his line of work.

“You have to be very hygienic when it comes to skin and needles, so you might prevent bacteria and skin infections to your clients,” he said.

If someone is HIV-positive and wants to get a tattoo, how does he handle such delicate situations?

“It’s unfortunate that here in Zimbabwe, we (tattoo artists) are not that advanced to own such machinery for the tests, but as for me, I use the most important and first principle in tattooing: Always use a new needle, always sterilise your machines and always wear protective gloves,” he said.

Chitongo said there is a wide range of tattoo types and designs and since he is primarily an artist, he cannot do any that his clients desire.

He said in order to avoid accidents while working, he ensures that he is entirely focused on the work at hand, adding that his clientele includes medical doctors, lawyers and teachers, but the majority are artistes.

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