Tuesday, January 22, 2013


A battery-powered tattoo machine at work in India.
He says his name is "Raj," and that he's the king of all tattoo artists. In his heavily-accented English, Raj tells us this matter-of-fact-ly, without animation, which is probably best, since he's at the same time using a battery-powered tattoo gun to pump ink into a paying client's arm.

We've seen some strange things in India. Raj's mobile tattoo parlor, spread out atop newspapers on the dirt, run completely on the power of two 9-volt batteries, and all carried out with little thought for modern hygiene, is right up there with the most shocking of them. 

Brave (or perhaps, unwitting) customers bring their own designs or choose between a selection carved from wood blocks laid out in rows. With a quick negotiation on price, which hovers between $2-$5, the customer sits down atop two stacked bricks, Raj presses the pre-inked wooden artwork against his/her skin and then sets off to work. 

No pretense, no fancy lights or reclining chair. There's also no antiseptic wipes, electricity, sanitized needles or pesky fears of the spread of hep B/C, tetanus, or even AIDS. 

Just a man and his work, as he's been doing it for the past 15 years.

Raj the king of tattoo artists sits in his studio. In front of him are rows of designs carved into wooden blocks.
The artist's tools--ink, designs, tattoo guns and extra 9-volt batteries in case others go dead.
A patron squats patiently as Raj does his work. 


  1. ...and the money you save can be placed into a future burial fund so your family will not be burdened by your stupidity. Sorry, I forgot--to purchase firewood for the ceremony rather than burial.

  2. The diseases in that needle could kill a whole army. Smart move not getting ink via, "The Tattoo King." Best regards from all at Pleasant Hill, especially me, Peyton.

  3. Hi, my name is Ja’Licia Franklin and I am from Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. I find it very neat that Raj only uses two 9-volt batteries to do his wonderful work as a tattoo artist. Does it take Raj a longer time to do his tattoo work then an artist that lives in the U.S. since he only use a battery-powered gun? I’m assuming so

  4. Hello, my name is Jenna Skinner, I go to Pleasant Hill High School, and I am part of Paula Calender's Chemistry class. Raj's ability to create such well-made tattoos with only two 9-volt batteries is very rare and simply amazing. Consider me very impressed.

  5. Hi, my name is Victoria Grantham. I am one of Paula Callender's Chemistry students. I think this style of tattooing is very interesting. How did Raj come up with this idea? The wooden blocks with intricate designs on them are a very creative way to do a tattoo. Though I'm impressed, I would not be that brave.

  6. we choose to nice hillside High School, and additionally im function of Paula Calender's Chemistry class. Raj's capacity to get these types of actually-created tattoos along with exclusive two 9-volt batteries is very uncommon and also just amazing. Think about myself extremely impressed.

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