Inked Mag Staff
November 30th, 2021
Madonna’s New Tattoo May Not Mean What She Intended
The pop legend just started getting tattoos about a year ago and now she is learning one of the most important tattoo lessons—always triple check your translation
When Madonna got her first tattoo a little less than a year ago much of the world, us included, were surprised the Material Girl had never been inked before. It just seemed unimaginable that the woman responsible for setting countless fashion trends had never been tattooed. But once she was we knew she’d be going back for more.
This week, Madonna got her third tattoo, a piece of Hebrew script on her wrist. In a video released on Instagram, she explains the meaning behind the piece and how it ties in with her other tattoos.
“I’m completing the trilogy of tattoos I mean to do, so this is my third one,” Madonna explains to one of her children. “Do you know what it means? It’s the Hebrew word for kissed.”
Here is where things start to get a little complicated. According to Israel Yahom, the translation might not be completely accurate. The tattoo is of the word “Ve’yishakhu,” which does mean kiss, but it also has a very specific connotation behind it.
“Hebrew has a word for kiss (‘neshika’), and that is not what the singer’s tattoo says,” Israel Yahom explains. “‘Ve’yishakhu’ is taken from a verse of the Book of Genesis. When Jacob leaves Haran, he is afraid of encountering his brother Esau, so divides his camp of followers into two. When the brothers meet, the Bible says, ‘Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.’ (Genesis 33:4)
“Not only can ‘Ve’yishakhu’ be literally translated as ‘and kissed him,’ rather than the simple noun for ‘kiss,’ but this verse is also interpreted as indicating that Esau’s heart was not behind the kiss he bestowed on Jacob,” they continue. “In fact, ‘Esau hates Jacob’ is a saying used to express the sense that other nations will always hate the Jews.”
So, while technically correct, Madonna’s tattoo doesn’t necessarily portray the sentiment she was hoping for. Language can be very tricky that way and it’s a very easy mistake to make. Have you ever tried to explain some of the oddities of English to somebody, like how “lead” can mean either a common metal or giving people direction? It’s a nightmare.
This is why when you’re getting a tattoo in a foreign language you really should run it by a native speaker, at the least. That being said, the intricacies of translation will likely have very little bearing as to how she interprets the heartfelt tribute to her family. As far as tattoo sins go, this is towards the bottom of the list. What Madonna did next, on the other hand, is far more egregious.
WHERE ARE THE GODDAMN GLOVES, MADONNA?!?!?!
Even if this was the very first time she ever touched a tattoo machine, Madonna should have known better than to tattoo without gloves. That being said, she wasn’t the professional tattoo artist in the room, that would be Ele Ramirez. Sure, it’s just a very quick little “X” on the hand. Yeah, Madonna probably wanted to show off those awesome Keith Haring-inspired nails. But come the fuck on. You know better than this.
If we’re gonna hold every kitchen magician to the fire for tattooing without gloves, we’re need to have the same standards for the pop-goddess. “La Isla Bonita” slaps really fucking hard, but bloodborne pathogens can fucking kill you.
We hope this serves as a learning experience for everybody involved. Particularly the thing about the gloves. Ick.
Inspired by Japanese culture and anime, MimiSama combines old school methods with modern technology in her unique style of tattooing
He fights in the UFC, fronts a punk band, runs a clothing line and does a little stand-up comedy on the side—so, yeah, Andre “Touchy” Fili is all the way alive