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Tattooing has been practiced for centuries by many cultures. The oldest evidence of tattooing dates to 6000 BC and was found on the preserved skin of a South American Chinchorro mummy in Peru.

Since the 1700s, tattoos have been have been very popular with and clearly associated with sailors. It was a long held belief, now generally debunked as a myth, that tattooing on European sailors first originated with Captain James Cook's crew after he arrived in the Pacific in the late 1700s. Regardless of when sailors began getting tattoos, it is clear that nautical and maritime subjects have been popular subjects for sailors; and ships, anchors, and ships in bottles have been very popular themes.

The following are a few of the many examples of ship in bottle tattoo art.