Monday, 20 August 2012

Amazing tattoos covered ancient Siberian princess

The elaborate tattoo of a deer with a griffons beak and Capricorn antlers found on the body of a Polosmak 'princess'.

Tattoos as complex and abstract as any modern design have been found on the body of Siberian princess buried in the permafrost for more than 2500 years. 

Natalia Polosmak, the scientist who found the remains of Princess Ukok high in mountains close to Russia's border with Mongolia and China, said she was struck by how little has changed in the past two millennia.
Tattoos of mythological creatures and complex patterns are believed to have been status symbols for the ancient nomadic Pazyryk people first described by the Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC.
A striking tattoo of a deer with a griffon's beak and Capricorn antlers was found on the left shoulder of the ancient 'princess', who died about age 25.
The antlers are decorated with the heads of griffons. And the same griffon's head is shown on the back of the animal.
She also has a dear's head on her wrist, with big antlers.
"Our young woman - the 'princess' - has only her two arms tattooed,"
Dr Polosmak told the Siberian Times. "So they signified both age and status." Buried with the 'princess' were six saddled-and-bridled horses, bronze and gold ornaments - and a small canister of cannabis.
She is not known to be a 'princess', as her name implies.
Experts are divided over whether she was a poet, healer or holy woman.
Two warriors recovered from the same burial site in the permafrost of the Ukok Plateau were similar fantastical creatures.
One had an image reaching across his right shoulder from his chest to his back.
The reconstructed tattoos were released to mark the moving of the remains of the princess to a permanent display in the National Museum in Gorno-Altaisk where she will be put on display.
"Tattoos were used as a mean of personal identification - like a passport now, if you like," said Dr Polosmak.
"I think we have not moved far from Pazyryks in how the tattoos are made.
"We can say that most likely there was - and is - one place on the body for everyone to start putting the tattoos on, and it was a left shoulder. I can assume so because all the mummies we found with just one tattoo had it on their left shoulders.
"And nowadays this is the same place where people try to put the tattoos on, thousands of years on. "I think its linked to the body composition - as the left shoulder is the place where it is noticeable most, where it looks the most beautiful."
Another similarity is how the number of tattoos is linked to age.
Dr Polosmak related the analogy of Greek tourist operators assessing the age of British tourists by the number of tattoos on their body. But there the similarities end.
The tattoos used by the Pazyryk nomads were intended to help members of the tribe identify each other in the afterlife. Read more: click HERE


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The mummy of a woman called the "Altai Princess" is in the museum of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, Russia.


The mummy of a woman called the "Altai Princess" is in the museum of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Tattoos aren’t just a trendy way for people to express themselves - they’re also apparently a time-honored tradition dating back almost three thousand years.
A Siberian mummy, who reserachers believe was buried 2500 years ago, will show off her intricate ink when she finally goes on display this month, and her shockingly well-preserved body art makes her look surprisingly modern.
The mummified body of the young woman, believed to be between 25 and 28 years old, was found in 1993, researchers told The Siberian Times.
Since then she has been kept frozen in a scientific institute, but she will soon be available to the public to be viewed from a glass case at the Republican National Museum in Siberia’s capital of Gorno-Altaisk.
The woman, dubbed in the media as the Ukok “princes,” was found wearing expensive clothing - a long silk shirt and beautifully decorated boots - as well as a horse hair wig.


A sculptor's impression of how Princess Ukok looked 2,500 years ago.

Archeologists told the paper that because she was not buried with any weapons she was not a warrior, and that she was likely a healer or storyteller.
Though her face and neck weren’t preserved, she was inked across both arms and on her fingers, in what researchers say was an indication of status.


Princess Ukok's hand, as the scientists saw her first, with marked tattoos on her fingers. She was buried with two men and six horses. Because she was not buried with weapons, researchers think that she might have been a healer or storyteller.

“The more tattoos were on the body, the longer it meant the person lived, and the higher was his position,” lead researcher Natalia Polosmak told the Times.
The woman was buried beside two men whose bodies also bore tattoos, as well as six horses.


A drawing of a tattoo on a warrior's shoulder.

Researchers think the group belonged to the nomadic Pazyryk people, and that their body art is something special even in comparison to other mummies who have been found wih tattoos in the past.
“Those on the mummies of the Pazyryk people are the most complicated and the most beautiful,” Polosmak told the Times.


This diagram shows the placement and greater detail of the princess' tattoos.

“It is a phenomenal level of tattoo art,” she said. “Incredible.”
Not everyone was pleased that the mummy was uncovered.


This diagram shows placement of the princess' tattoos on her shoulder.

Controversy erupted after she was discovered, as many believed she should not have been removed from her burial site. Some locals even believed her grave’s disruption caused a “curse of the mummy” which they blamed for the crash of the helicopter carrying her remains.


The "Altai Princess" mummy was found at the Gorny Mountain Altai by Natalya Polos'mak, a scientist of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“The Altai people never disturb the repose of the interned,” Rimma Erkinova, deputy director of the Gorno-Altaisk Republican National Museum told the Times. “We shouldn’t have any more excavations until we’ve worked out a proper moral and ethical approach.”


Tattoos that appear on the Princess' hand. Because she was relatively young, researchers theorize, she had fewer tattoos.

Local authorities in the region have declared the area a ‘zone of peace,’ so no more excavations can be done in an effort to prevent plundering, though scientists believe there are many more mummies that can be found.


One of the most mysterious vistas in the world: The Ukok plateau, Alta, Siberia.

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1 comment:

Aprajita Sharma said...

amazing.. thanks for sharing it