TATTOO DESIGNS & SYMBOLS - DEMON TATTOOS
Tattoo designs - D >> Demons
Demon Tattoos - Demons, in one form or another, are prominently featured in the history of tattooing, both ancient and modern and in many different tattoo cultures and modern tattoo design genres. Demons are potent tattoo designs, rich with meaning and symbolism.
Chief amongst the demons in Christian religions was Satan, the commander of legions of lesser evil spirits. Satan was believed to have been expelled from the heavenly realms because of his pride and vanity. According to some, he was the brightest of the angels, and came to be known as Lucifer, the fallen angel. Another theory describes certain angels being expelled from above for mating with humans, resulting in half-human offspring. These awesome creatures were the giants who gave rise to countless fairy stories. In most cultures, demons had a reputation for evil, causing pain and suffering to humankind. They were tricky, sly, and had the power of prophecy, which was very useful when leading poor, weak humans astray. They could enter a living person causing sickness or madness, but could also be driven out. And they could also be domesticated enough to serve as a force to scare other evil spirits away. The more popular demons come complete with horns, fangs, claws, and open mouths, scary enough to keep evil spirits at a distance. Demons were represented in all forms of art; painting, weaving, carvings in wood, stone, bone and ivory and clay figurines as well as tattoos.
According to Japanese folklore, there's nothing worse than a demon who doesn't like you! Considered a worse threat than war, famine, or disease, demons had to be taken seriously. The general belief in demons and their supernatural powers spawned a culture of heroes whose job it was to confront them, and to protect the land from their mischief. Religious ceremonies and rituals were regularly and routinely performed to appease or guard against the plague of demons that threatened. Priests used spells to exorcise them. There are tales that tell of demons being sealed up inside self-sacrificing humans to keep them from devouring whole villages. The folk tales -- not to mention religions such as Shinto, Buddhism, and Taoism -- built myriad demon variations into their mythologies. They came in all shapes, sizes, and disguises, and were good as well as nasty, as they wandered the realms between the living and dead. There are even invisible demons, who announce themselves by whistling and singing.
Unlike demons in Western culture, the Japanese varieties -- depending on their mood -- might be sweet-natured and helpful to humans, lavishing their protection and guidance on those they take a fancy to. The Japanese typically decorated their homes with protective talismans, including images of demons. Japanese paintings, drawings, woodcuts, carvings and sculpture are rich in portraying the huge variety and aspects of demons, good and evil, and form a large space in the Japanese culture. Had tattooing not been deemed 'low class', the upper classes might have worn their protection as skin ink. Traditional and modern Japanese tattooing draws much of its imagery from the wood-block art of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, much of which is devoted to demon figures and art.
Some favourite Japanese demons are Inuyasha the dog-demon, and the fox and raccoon demons who are shape-shifters and tricksters. There is the wolf-demon who, according to legend, has a romantic streak. And there's the weasel, the toad, and centipedes. The 'Oni', or ogre-monster, is known to Japanese children even today, for its reputation for eating humans. It's a tattoo-bearing creature with wild hair and long nails. Its job is to hunt down evil-doers and send them to the hell-realms. Perhaps because of the horns on its forehead, it's reminiscent of the typical demon found in Christian cultures -- like the gargoyle.
Get inspired by some great images and photos in our Demon Inspiration Gallery
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Tattoo designs - D >> Demons
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