Unlike the hand-drawn stencils popular in tattooing in the U.S., Razzouk often uses woodblocks, hundreds of hand-carved wooden stamps that have been in his family for generations. Painted lightly in ink, the woodblocks are pressed against a person’s skin, then Razzouk uses the stamp as a guide for many traditional tattoo designs. With the block, he can repeat the same tattoo again and again — like an ancient tattoo flash.

Some of the most popular woodblock tattoo designs, like the Jerusalem cross, date back to the First Crusade in 1096. A glass case in the shop displays dozens of woodblocks that customers can choose from. Razzouk also has a two-book collection of traditional tattoo designs for customers, including different configurations of crosses, Arabic calligraphy, and illustrations of symbolic biblical events like the crucifixion and religious figures like the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. The oldest stamps he has belong to two woodblocks called “The Ascension,” carved depictions of the moment Christians believe Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection. The stamps are 500 years old.

The tattoo shop has evolved over the centuries, incorporating more modern methods and tools to complement traditional woodblock tattoo art. In 2022, Razzouk opened a new parlor in West Jerusalem, catering primarily to locals wanting more modern and sometimes film-inspired tattoo art, separate from the other location that primarily serves pilgrims looking to commemorate their experience. Traditionally Islam and Judaism forbid tattooing, but Razzouk told The New York Times that it had become popular among younger Jewish Israelis and Muslims.

The family legacy continues as Razzouk trains his two sons, Nizar and Anton, in the art of tattooing. Thanks to his contributions to modernize the shop and teach the 28th generation of Razzouk tattooists, Razzouk said the craft “will hopefully remain in the family for many centuries to come.”

Source link