“The tattoo painting

The tattoo represents one of the most famous pictographs of the Deer Cave (Italian: Grotta dei Cervi) near the town of Porto Badisco, around 8 km south of Otranto in Apulia, Italy. It is called the “Dancing Shaman”, or possibly the “Dancing God”, a stylized human figure executed in black (blowing bat guano through hollow bones or vegetables, previously smeared with grease using bird feathers as a brush) with a feathered headdress and an animal tail; on the lower sides of the human figure there would be two snakes.

Some scholars argue that the “headdress” represents rays of light in view of ability of the sorcerer to communicate with the otherworldly power.

The paintings of the Grotta dei Cervi are attributed to the late Neolithic (4000-3000 BCE) and the authors of these paintings had to be individuals invested with special functions, artist-shamans or in some way related to them.


Why this tattoo?

I am an archaeologist and I made this tattoo (my only tattoo) when I was 30 years old. I love prehistory, even if I am an expert in Etruscology and, when I did it, it was a bad personal period for me: I was stuck in my excessive rationality and it did not allow me to enjoy my life, neither emotionally nor professionally.

The tattoo represented my purpose: Jodorowski said that the shaman is a patient who has managed to heal himself. His ecstasy is not Dionysian – as pointed out by Mircea Eliade – but it is framed in the Apollonian way for the control that the shaman maintains on the ecstatic experience. Plato instead suggests that Apollo and Dionysus have a fundamental affinity precisely on the ground of the “mania”: they together exhaust the sphere of madness and we can formulate the hypothesis attributing the word and knowledge to Apollo and the immediacy of life to Dionysus, that the poetic folly is the work of the former, and the erotic one of the latter. Here, I really wished this for me! Being Apollonian and Dionysian at the same time and this tattoo fixed it well.

It worked, and I never regretted it: today I work for the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage as an archaeologist and I have found the center in my private life!”



Tattoo studio: Crazy Angel Tattoo

Photo: Gianluca