Who was Captain George Costentenus, the enlightened man?

Circus poster

Typical circus poster of the s. XIX, the time in which George Costentenus lived (Source).

George Costentenus, the big man with the blue tattoos featured on numerous vintage posters, was a circus attraction and with a life of the most exciting… Although probably false.

If you want to know more about this human attraction mid-nineteenth century and see to what extent the exotic tattoos in the west keep reading!

Kidnapped and tattooed against his will

Constentenus history poster

In this poster you can see another version of the story: this time, the punishment is for rebelling against the king (Source).

George Costentenus, also known as "the Albanian Greek", Djordgi Konstantinus or Georgius Constantine, counted to his American admirers that he was the descendant of a greek nobleman of the province of Albania and that, for a travel with two other companions to Tartary (which was what the region of Mongolia and Siberia was called during the XNUMXth century) were captured and punished and with a tattoo session de three months! (In the past, it was habitual punish criminals with tattoos. If you want to know more, read this post).

After that time, the three prisoners managed to escape, although the other two companions of fatigue of Costentenus died within a few months. The only one who survived was Costentenus; tattooed from head to toe (the only parts of the body where he had no tattoos were the soles of the feet and the ears) on indigo and red; more than NOTE 300 inspired by nature, in geometric motifs or in foreign languages.

The true origin of the man tattooed from head to toe

Although the story we have just told has a hook and should have left the audience with their mouths open, it was not true. Curiously, the real story of the captain is even more exciting and it retains many points in common with its mentira (Or should we say "marketing strategy"?)

poster content

Another promotional poster of Constentus showcasing his tattooed body (Source).

Costentenus was born in Greece in 1833 and learned to speak many languages such as Greek, Arabic, Persian, French, Spanish, Italian or English. When he grew up, he became a pirate and traveled the seven seas in search of Adventures.

The cursed expedition

In 1860, George Costentenus participated in a expedition to Burma (what we now know as Burma) in search of gold, but they had bad luck. He gobierno declared the expedition hostile and captured the participants with his troops and executed the majority: of twelve, only three remained, George Costentenus and two other companions; whom the government punished with tattoo sessions for three months. They say that four men had to hold our hero so that did not escape from the needle.

Finally, poor Costentenus managed to escape and traveled for months through southern China, until, with the help of the consulate, he was able to go back to europe, where it attracted the anthropologist and medical care, who observed their tattoos with great attention and even they translated some: on his fingers they had written that he was a bad person.

The astronomical fame of Costentenus

Constentenus advertising in color

Color advertisement of the circus performer who respects his blue and red tattoos (Source).

Despite (or perhaps because of) the bizarre and ever-changing story of the adventurer, which ended up becoming the first version that we have told you, and which always made doubt the experts of its veracity, they believed that at least their tattoos they were one authentic sample (and exquisite, since they were all of great beauty) of the art of the burmese tattoo.

The audience went crazy with him most tattooed man in the world, which started show off in Europe, but who traveled up United States. There, they came to pay him $ 100 per day (a goose pasta for the time). Thus, Costentenus traveled and exhibited across the country in underpants and displayed his hundreds of tattoos. When not working, she wore heavy robes and large jewelry that increased her exotic charisma.

Mysterious to the end

Even the death of George Costentenus crafts part of the legend and we do not know to what extent it is true. People say that lost vision and that retired to Greece with his great fortune, which he earned not only thanks to his life in the circus, but also thanks to the sale of his autobiography.

The popularity of the artist (who apparently loved capes) was so great that performances were advertised every night (Source).

It is also said that, upon dying, donated part of his fortune to the london greek churchs and another part to their former circus companions. The only sure thing is that the most tattooed man in the world disappeared from the face of the earth in 1894.

In any case, the case of George Costentenus is another a sample of how the first tattooed people were considered not only weirdos but also walking legends.


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