Tattooed Actors Kabuki
Tattoo pop culture Edo
Portraits of popular tattooed actors in kabuki roles represent the earliest and most popular genre for ukiyo-e, going back to the early masters of the 17th century.
Theater actors were as popular as contemporary movie stars and pop idols. Their fame reached such heights that wooden engravings depicting their favorite actors became collectibles and souvenirs for fans. At the same time, kabuki became famous for its tattoos, because many popular characters - heroes and hooligans - were portrayed in extravagant poses and bright costumes, and their bodies were covered with drawings. Handsome actors who played the role of otokodate became the object of romantic worship. People perceived these warriors as folk heroes and, seeing them on stage and engravings, were inspired to apply tattoos on their bodies similar to those of idols. In the end, the same engravers who once invented woodcut engraving transferred their art to a new plane - human skin.