Ulki (tattoo) a pattern created by inserting pigments in punctures on the body. Tattooing was part of the religious faith in primitive societies. The act later came to be used as a means of beautification, sexual rites, medication, sending messages, self-protection etc.

The dye of ulki is indelible. Indian Hindus believe that ulki is like an ornament of the body and can be employed to gain entrance to heaven. The Ekoi women of Africa believe that they would be able to trade in ulkis for food in the world beyond death. Old Egyptians used to tattoo the names and symbols of gods on their chests and arms. They believed this to be an act of unification with god. Some peoples believe that ulki has supernatural power and that it protects them from danger, ailment and evil spirits.


Totemic tribes use tattoos of their totems. This supposedly keeps up the spirit and independence of the tribe. Males in New Zealand use tattoos on their forehead, below their eyes, and on the chin. European sailors use tattoos of anchors and ships on their hands.

The Vairagis in Bangladesh paint the picture of radha and krishna united together in love on their wrists. The aborigines have traditions of wider use of tattoos. santals, oraons and Muriyas paint tattoos on the body of their children to mark the religion, status and sanctity of the tribe. They use the pictures of the sun, snakes, birds and circles as tattoos.

There are some professional quacks or exorcists who make tattoos. They first puncture the skin with a thorn or needle and apply pigment on it. In ancient times, the sap of the keshutia (Eclipta prostata) leaves was used as the dye in a tattoo. After the whole process, the dye looked bluish green. [Wakil Ahmed]