The XVIII Century is known for the development of Sciences and researches. Many navy expeditions set sail from Europe to explore the far unknown lands in the East-South Pacific Sea and arrived in Tahiti, an idyllic island populated by kind tattooed people.
The Britannic Navy was one of the most powerful Forces of the century and the British Government invested many resources in expeditions. One of them was entrusted to Captain William Bligh and the HMS Bounty. It became famous for its unfortunate end: a mutiny.
The Bounty raised anchor from Spithead on 23rd December 1787 with the purpose to reach Cape Horn, located between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. It was too late to leave so they found a terrible climate to travel, so that the ship was not able to reach Cape Horn and turned to Tahiti. Here the crew found what have been described as a Paradise on Earth: beautiful landscapes, beautiful climate, beautiful women. They spent five months in the island having the best time of their life adapting to the traditions of the people. In particular, they were fascinated by tattoos and decided to get inked. Thus they was desperate when they had to leave.
During the trip nostalgia took over the crew. Moreover, it seems that Captain Bligh was quite violent with his men, so that they decided to mutiny. The first Lieutenant Fletcher Christian took control and put Bligh on a lifeboat with some of his sailors leaving them to their destiny. After that he brought the Bounty back to Tahiti to take the women and go to another island of the archipelago with them. They thought they would have never been found by the British Navy there.
They were tattoos which betrayed them. Captain Bligh, in fact, managed to return home in an epic and desperate trip. Here he told his history to the military court which convicted the mutinied. Captain Edward Edwards was appointed to go to Tahiti and bring the mutinied back. He set sail on 7th November 1790 and arrived there on 23rd March 1791 with the HMS Pandora.
Edwards was able to recognize his preys because Bligh described the tattoos they had made in Tahiti three years before.
In particular, Fletcher Christian had a star tattooed on his chest and other symbols on his gluteus. So on 8th May 1791 Captain Edwards left Tahiti. His trip was troubled but he succeeded to come back to the UK on 19th June 1792, more than one year later, and finally the mutinied were processed. The Court interpreted their tattoos as a sign of their wildness and this point worsen their sentence.
If you want to know more about this engaging history, many movies, tv dramas and books were made during the XX Century.