Artist of the Month

Wassim Razzouk

Tattooing is an art the Razzouk family introduced to Palestine more than a century ago, bringing it with them from Egypt when my great-grandfather moved here for trade. Starting in Egypt, this art has been practiced in the family for 700 years. Our ancestors used tattoos to mark Coptic Christians with a small cross on the inside of the wrist to grant them access to churches. As those without it would have difficulty entering the church, Christians tattooed their children, identifying them as Copts, at a very young age (sometimes even a few months old). Today, we continue this family tradition by offering tattoos to Christian pilgrims and to visitors to the Old City of Jerusalem.

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My grandfather, Yacoub Razzouk (known also as hagop, Arabic for the tattooist), was the first tattoo artist in this country to use an electric tattoo machine (which was powered by a car battery) and the first to use color as well. Many artists have learned from him, and he has been mentioned in books and magazines that discuss the history of tattooing (especially religious and Christian tattoos).

He learned the art from his father, who had learned it from his father and other ancestors. They brought with them hand-carved wooden stamps that act as stencils for the designs of religious motifs inspired from the bible such as the crucifixion, ascension, Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, St. George fighting the dragon, and more. Pilgrims would line up, waiting for their turn to be tattooed with either a cross or another design of their choice, the date being included as certification to their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Many pilgrims who visited another time asked for the date of that year to be added to the tattoo. Today, we continue the tradition in exactly the same way.

My father (Anton Razzouk) taught me as his father had taught him, and I have decided to carry over the tradition and am now teaching this heritage to my sons. We are considered the custodians of this great tradition.

Another great passion in my life is motorcycling. I am among the founding members of the first motorcycle club in Jerusalem, Holy Land Bikers MC Jerusalem. I own a couple of Harley Davidson motorcycles and enjoy riding the country with my brothers, exploring its beauty and sharing it with the world through pictures and short videos.

Our shop is located inside Jerusalem’s Old City, near Jaffa Gate, on St. Georges Street.