1. Tilt-down Orthodox Christian pilgrim, Mebrat (only one name given), singing as she is gets tattoo
2. Close of Virgin Mary being done on Mebrat’s arm
3. Tilt-down Ethiopian pilgrims watching over as Mebrat is getting a tattoo
4. SOUNDBITE (English): Mebrat, Orthodox Christian pilgrim from Ethiopia:
“I’m thinking about God; he died for us on the cross, that’s why I’m singing.”
5. Tilt-down Ethiopian pilgrim showing signs of discomfort as she is getting tattooed
6. Mid tattoo artist Wassim Razzouk tattooing woman’s arm
7. Close crucifixion tattoo
8. Ethiopian pilgrims at hotel lobby
9. Tattoo of Virgin Mary with baby Jesus and year 2005
10. Christian Orthodox men walking in Old City
11. Wide of shops in Old City
12. Pan left sign reading “Tattoo Razzouk”
13. Close tattoo showing Christ carrying the cross and year 2013
14. Close Orthodox Christian pilgrim from Eritrea getting tattoo
15. Close tattoo being done on arm
16. Tilt-down from tattoo artist Wassim Razzouk tattooing Orthodox Christian from Eritrea to booklet of different tattoo designs
17. Close magazines and booklet reading: (English) “Coptic Tattoo Designs”
18. SOUNDBITE (English): Anton Razzouk, Tattoo shop owner:
“Tattoo on the hand is the best certificate of pilgrimage, because it stays there forever. It stays till the person is dead, it stays with him – till the grave.”
19. Close tattoo of Christ on the cross
20. Wide Christian Orthodox pilgrims getting tattooed at Razzouk tattoo shop
21. Close old tattoo blocks
22. Close tattoo crosses designs – on the left, above the year 2013 are two designs of the “Armenian cross”; on the right two designs of the “Jerusalem cross”, with a big cross and four small ones on the sides
23. Various Tattoo artist Wassim Razzouk showing different tattoo designs to Christian Orthodox pilgrim
24. Close Christian Orthodox pilgrim getting tattooed
25. SOUNDBITE (English): Anton Razzouk, Tattoo Shop owner:
“Very simple ones would be a cross and the date, the date of their year of their visit, but the Armenians and the Aramaics – they have their own designs. We have what we call the ‘Armenian cross’, it’s quite different than other crosses, but it is in the shape of a cross, except for the signs to be different.”
26. Tilt up from Old City street to sign reading “Tattoo Razzouk”
Orthodox Christians visiting the Holy Land often return home with more than just spiritual memories.
Many drop by a centuries-old tattoo parlour in Jerusalem’s Old City, inking themselves with a permanent reminder not only of their pilgrimage but also of devotion to their faith.
The same Jerusalem family has been tattooing pilgrims with crosses and other religious symbols for hundreds of years, testament to the importance of the ancient ritual.
While Catholics can get a written certificate of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Orthodox Christians opt for a tattoo, a permanent reminder of their visit.
In contrast to the bustling streets of the Old City outside, the Razzouk parlour is quiet, with only the buzz of an electric needle zigzagging across a pilgrim’s arm.
Some pilgrims, like Mebrat, an Orthodox Christian pilgrim from Ethiopia, turn to song as they receive their tattoos.
“I’m thinking about God; he died for us on the cross, that’s why I’m singing,” says the 35-year-old.
Anton Razzouk, the family’s 72-year-old patriarch, says the business can be traced back to a Coptic ancestor who travelled by camel and donkey from Egypt to Jerusalem for a pilgrimage about 300 years ago and decided to stay.
Today, the Razzouk business is the oldest tattoo parlour in the Old City catering to Christian tourists.
He said the markings remind the faithful not to sin.
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