Tattooing in Hong Kong

HF: Apparently tattooing has been practiced across the globe since at least Neolithic times, as evidenced by mummified preserved skin, ancient art, and the archaeological record. When I was young it was most commonly seen on and associated with sailors and those in the military and I suppose general ne’er do wells but now appears de rigueur for teenagers.

For the purposes of inclusion on this site I hereby classify tattooing as both an art form and an industry. I would be grateful if anyone coming across information about or images of the history of tattooing in Hong Kong could sent it to me.

The Times of London, 18 April 1889, p. 12 has an article A Japanese Professional Tattooer which describes the activities of an unnamed Japanese tattooist based in Hong Kong. He charged £4 for a dragon, which would take 5 hours to do. The article ends “The Hong-Kong operator tattooed the arm of an English Prince, and, in Kioto, was engaged for a whole month reproducing on the trunk and limbs of an English peer a series of scenes from Japanese history. For this he was paid about £100. He has also tattooed ladies…. His income from tattooing in Hong Kong is about £1,200 per annum.”

That is approximately £165,000 or HKD1,656,000 when converted to 2017 values!

D. Noma, Tattooer, who I am presuming is a man and Japanese operated a parlour and in this 1905 advert boasts of having decorated both The British Duke of York and the Russian “Emperor”.

Nichloas II Emporer Of Russia

Nicholas II post-tattooing 1909


D Noma, Tattoer, HK Telegraph, 23.9.1905

HK Telegraph, 23.9.1905

See: search online allthingstattoohongkong

This article was first posted on 30th April 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *