Year of the Horse

The one thing I do not want to be called is First Lady.

It sounds like a saddle horse.

Jackie Kennedy

Horse Tattoo by Dmitriy Samohin

 By Ukrainian artist Dmitriy Samohin (Photo from

As tribute to feminine creativity and courage celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Horse, here are a few Asian inspired tattoos and excerpt from Margot Mifflin’s Bodies of Subversion (another delightful addition to my library thanks to a favorite blog fan):

In a culture where surfaces matter, skin, the largest organ is the scrim on which we project our greatest fantasies and deepest fears about our bodies. For women, skin is a work in progress through which we celebrate–and denigrate–ourselves.

In The Decorated Body, anthropologist Robert Brain calls body modification “an attempt to put on a new skin, a cultural as opposed to a natural skin.”  His observation is especially resonant for women, whose ties to nature have historically been used to justify their exclusion from culture. Whether they see tattooing as an embellishment of or an intrusion on the “natural body; whether they build their collections on a bedrock of sexual politics; and whether or not they call themselves feminists, tattooed woman constitute a subculture whose political implications are indisputable.  Life female body builders, who contest the idea that a “built” woman isn’t a real woman, or feminist pornographers, who puncture the myth that objectified sex is necessarily exploitative or degrading, they’re rewriting the ground rules for female self-presentation.

In the never-ending project of women’s self-transformation, tattoos are both an end and a beginning, a problem and a solution.  Written on the skin–the very membrane that separates the self from the world–they’re diary entries and public announcements, conversation pieces and countercultural tomes, valentines to lovers, memorials to the dead, reminders to the self.  They’re scars and symptoms, mistakes and corrections. Collectively, they form a secret history of women grappling with body politics from the Gilded Age to the present–women whose intensely personal yet provocatively public art poses a complicated challenge to the meaning of female beauty.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what having tough skin means to you.  Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Samurai on Horse tattoo by Jill Bonny

Japanese Samurai by Jill Bonny, the first Western woman to be awarded the title Horiyuki by Japanese tattoo master Horiyoshi III

Alphonse Mucha tattoo reproduction by Thea Duskin

An Alphonse Mucha art deco reproduction by Thea Duskin on a fan that reminds me of the Korean traditional

Geisha flower tattoo by Jo Harrison

Geisha by Jo Harrison

koi tattoo by Kari Barba

Koi by Kari Barba


Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mountain
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 08:04:10

    Happy Chinese New Year!…迎春接福. My horses are so honored. I’ll make sure they are a little more pampered.

    My opinion regarding tattoo’s has changed a little over the years. For me personally it will never happen. There is not even one Goddess who’s name will appear on my skin, it goes deeper than that…my heart bears that name. But I must admit that seeing some tattoo’s on women, I find kind of sexy. The art in many examples is very beautiful as Sharky has shown us and I can appreciate that. I guess rather than my skin toughening it has become softer.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: