I wear a tattoo first found on the Siberian Ice Maiden, a female mummy from 500 BC. She was unearthed by archeologist Natalya Polosmak in 1993 after being preserved and frozen by a glacier for 2,500 years.
The Ice Maiden's burial site on the Ukok Peninsula was surrounded by 6 sacrificial horses and other valuable artifacts, leading archaeologists to believe that she was a Scythian leader. Women in Scythian tribes were horsewomen and warriors. Archaeologists guess that this woman was some combination of healer, warrior, and historian/storyteller. The Ice Princess died at age 25 from falling off a horse, likely because she was emaciated and no longer able to ride due to late stage breast cancer. Her tribe carried her even after she was a liability, looking after her as she once looked after them.
I read about this woman and thought about her for three years before deciding to get my tattoo. She taught me (and continues to teach me) so much about how history and art together create meaning.
What I love about this deer as a piece of art:
-joy (look at the flippety flip of those hind legs!)
-humility (the tilt of his head)
-power (the muscles in his neck and body)
-the way his antlers look like fire and lace
What I learn from this tattoo's history:
-the importance of caring for community members and loved ones
-if I am going to fight for what I believe in, I would hope I have the power to heal and the knowledge of history to back up my view point first
I use my tattoo as a reminder to myself to be this kind of woman: joyful, humble, and powerful; a healer, warrior, storyteller, invested community member, and an honest, kind, assertive communicator. I wear it with pride and feel grateful to share this incredible woman's story with the world.
Photo by Dorothea Schill, tattoo by Mehmet Veli
Photo by Geert Maciejewski at Krzyżowa Music
Adrienne Mayor, The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), 110-116.
Olga Khrustaleva, The mystery of Siberia's 2,500-year-old 'Ice maiden,' directed by Olga Khrustaleva (2021, BBC), reel.
BBC Horizon, season 33 episode 9, "Ice Mummies: The Ice Maiden," written by Susan K. Lewis, aired January 30, 1997 on BBC.