A new exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles sheds light on thecomplicated history of Armenian women's Genocide-era tattoos.
Titled "Tattoo", the exhibit explores millennia of markings, from the ancient tribal patterns that adorned the skin of indigenous people to the colorful sailor-style tattoos still popular in modern day L.A.
There are examples of tattoos that are symbols of self-expression, group identity and punishment. And then there's the 1919 photo of a woman in Aleppo. Tattoos run down her face and onto her chest, which is exposed by her partially open shirt, LA Weekly reports.
The woman is not named, but the caption accompanying the photo gives a piece of her story. She was Armenian and had been able to escape a brothel thanks to the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association).
The placard notes that during the course of the Armenian Genocide, women who had been captured and made slaves or prostitutes had been tattooed as a means of identification.
It's a profoundly disturbing image and snippet of a story that points to an obscure facet of a genocide committed within the Ottoman Empire that is, to this day, denied by Turkey, the publication says.
Some three dozen countries, hundreds of local government bodies and international organizations have so far recognized the killings of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.