The art of Japanese tattoo has been traced back as far as 5,000 B.C. It is very possible that it existed well before this date, but this is as far back as claims can be backed up with physical proof. Clay figurines that date back to the 5th millennia B.C. have been found with their faces painted or engraved to represent tattoo markings. As far as historians and archaeologists can tell, these tattoos are believed to have held a special religious or magical meaning to their bearers.