Want to get inked to show your faith? If you want to be sure you’re going to get an experienced artist, your safest bet may be the Jerusalem family of Coptic Christians which has been in the business of tattooing pilgrims since 1300.
Jovan Tripkovic of Religion Unplugged writes that Wassim Razzouk and his sons run Razzouk Tattoos, possibly the oldest continuously operating tattoo parlor in the world.
The Razzouk family started tattooing in Egypt, centuries ago before moving to the Holy Land. They originally worked in Bethlehem before later moving to Jerusalem. At the time, pilgrims did not visit for a few days but might come for months or years, bringing professionals with them. To this day, the Razzouks mainly specialize in Christian symbols and serve Christian visitors to Jerusalem’s many holy sites.
It’s been visited by megachurch pastors, Catholic priests and more, and current owner Wassim Razzouk says his family’s business has benefitted from the internet boom. The shop offers a range of designs, some of which are created with the original stamps Razzouk’s ancestors used.
Contributor Jovan Tripkovic spoke to Razzouk about his shop, his faith and his family’s history in today’s top story.
Wassim Razzouk and his sons are carrying their family’s Egyptian Coptic Christian tattooing tradition into its eighth century in Jerusalem’s Old City.
In addition to his passion for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Razzouk is a devout Coptic Christian. During my recent visit, he was cheerful and energetic, always willing to talk about history, faith and tattoos.
Wassim Razzouk: We are a Coptic Christian family. We started the tattooing tradition back in Egypt, where we used to tattoo Christian Copts with a small cross on the wrist. That was the sign of their Christianity. It was used to mark Christians, so Christians can know and identify each other with this little cross. It was also used to enter churches, as a pass code. It was the ultimate sign of your Christianity because you had to prove you are a Christian to enter a church.
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