Many modern Christians find tattooing an unwelcome practice. Some Christians even find it immoral due to a certain passage in the Bible that warns against marking one’s skin. Interestingly, there is one family-run tattoo shop in Jerusalem that has survived and thrived for hundreds of years tattooing Christians, or specifically, Christian pilgrims.
The old tattoo shop located in Old Jerusalem has been in the business for over 700 years. Run by the Razzouk family, who are Coptic Christians, the business started in 14th century Egypt. Yet the family of skilled tattoo artists migrated to Jerusalem in the 17th century due to the high demand for tattoo artists there. Since then, the shop has been the go-to place for Christian pilgrims who want to celebrate their successful journey to the Holy Land through “a mark of faith.”
A tattoo shop in Old Jerusalem started business in the 14th century.
According to Razzouk Ink owner Wassim Razzouk,
“The tattoo…is a symbol of [the Christian pilgrims’] identity and it’s something they want to take home as a souvenir, as proof, and as a source of pride of their Christianity and of their pilgrimage to the Holy Land.”
For 700 years, tourists flock to the shop to get a “mark of faith.”
Most likely due to its centuries-old heritage, the old tattoo shop has been so popular with Christians wanting to get inked. The shop is even said to belong to the world’s top five destinations for tattooing. It’s a common scene to have dozens of pilgrims patiently wait outside Razzouk Ink for several hours just to get tattooed.
There are many different traditional designs that Christian pilgrims can choose from. Beautiful and intricate details of the designs – e.g. the Jerusalem cross, the Crucifixion, or the Blessed Virgin Mary — are hand-carved onto olive wood blocks.
“Those Coptic tattoo blocks are actually considered to be the very beginning of modern-age stenciling techniques,” Wassim explained. “Lately there has been a lot of demand for using those wooden blocks. Interestingly, more so from Western pilgrims.”
More Christians will have their chance to gent inked in this legendary tattoo shop with Wassim promising to continue the family decades for decades more.
Apparently, Razzouk Ink will have to continue its business in the coming decades. Wassim, who has assumed the role of his now-retired father, is determined to keep the tradition that their family has been faithfully keeping since the crusades.
“This is not a tradition and a heritage that is easy to let go of, and I am not going to be the one who is going to stop it or kill it,” he said.
Watch Wassim Razzouk in a tattooing session below:
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