Traditionally, hammerhead (and flat-head) goblins were covered in many tattoos, which added to their distinctive, fearsome look. These were common in the First and Second Ages of Flight, but were only used by wild tribes during the Third, as many goblins in large civilisations chose not to keep up the practise.
Tattoo Designs and Meanings
There were many different designs of tattoos used, and they all had different meanings. They were an important part of hammerhead culture because they recorded the history of the clan as well as the individual goblin.
- Ironwood Pines — A row of ironwood trees on the arm would symbolise how long a hammerhead had lived; each branch represented a year, and after ten branches, a new tree was started. In The Nameless One, Chert had four trees with ten branches and one with only two, this made him forty-two years old.
- Stars — A pattern of stars represented the place a goblin was born.
- Clouds — These represented a hammerhead's ancestry.
- Spearheads/arrows — Each weapon inked into a hammerhead's skin symbolised the battle's they had fought in.
- Important events — Every major even in a goblin's life was marked in their skin.
- Teeg survived an encounter with a bloodoak, and had a simplistic bloodoak mouth and tarry vine tattooed on his right arm to represent this event. Even Cade and Celestia, who rescued him, were shown as stick-figures in the image.
- Brack narrowly escaped being killed by the White Trogs when he was young, and he had a large picture of a trog devouring stick-figure goblins on his chest.
- Other designs
- Geometric shapes
- bands round arms/legs
Tattooists were very important and well-respected elders of the clan. It was their job to record the individual's personal history, as well as the clan's history in the tattoos on their bodies. They also acted as a shaman, creating marks which would bring luck to the tribe and ward off evil.
Tools and Method
The ground would be covered with a tilderhide for the recipient of the tattoo to kneel on. Black moss would be crushed using a mortar and pestle and then mixed with water to create thick, black ink, which was placed in a wooden bowl. The needle was made using a bitter-thorn or a tiny splinter of ironwood. The needle would repeatedly puncture the skin, leaving the ink to form an image.
Once the mark was complete, it would be smeared with hammelhorn grease to clean it and reduce the risk of infection.