TATTOO DESIGNS & SYMBOLS - SKULLS
Tattoo designs - S >> Skulls
Skull Tattoos - Skulls are represented in a number of tattoo design genres, and a classic tattoo design that has been popular for generations of tattoo enthusiasts. Nautical Tattoos with the Jolly Roger, or famed pirate's flag of Skull and Crossed Bones, Old School Tattoos, New School Tattoos, Bio-Mechanical and every School of Tattoos in between.
One look at a skull and we can see death staring at us from those big empty sockets. It's not surprising then that the skull is known all over the world as a symbol of death. In many cultures, it is held up as a reminder of our own mortality or, in the universal Latin, a memento mori - a memento of mortality.
In Christian art and culture, the skull has been seen as a symbol of eternity, repentance, and human vanity and, therefore, a reminder to keep to the straight and narrow. It appears in medieval religious paintings as Adam's skull placed at the foot of the Cross and symbolizing the Redemption. An ancient symbol of the skull with a serpent crawling through the sockets was the symbol of knowledge and immortality. The serpent in the skull is also a favourite emblem denoting Â'"knowledge surviving death".Many great Renaissance masterpieces prominently feature skulls, and most portraits of Saints, Cardinals, Popes and Royalty contained a skull as a reminder of the importance of living a virtuous life.
Historically, the skull was a popular symbol of triumph over the enemy, and a warning to the people defeated in battle. Collections of skulls might be stacked by the victors in public places, as an obvious declaration of victory and grim reminder of the losses of the vanquished. It was also worn as a trophy and even drunk out of by conquering kings. Centuries ago, heads were stuck on pikes at Traitor's Gate in London, and left to rot -- a dire warning to all who walked by. The skull, or Totenkopf was the Nazi SS insignia in WW2, a symbol to be feared, but when tattooed on the arm of a biker outlaw, it is a death-defying symbol believed to cheat death. In New Guinea, skulls were placed in the rafters of the medicine house as a reminder of death always present in life. Ancient Pompeii came up with the image of the skull crowned with the spirit level, the carpenter's favorite tool, suggesting Death as the great leveller.
The skull could also get fancy. There are plenty of scenes of talking skulls in folk history, all carrying a message or reminder of death and bad behaviour. In Mexico you can see grinning skulls dressed up in feathers and hats, such as found in Mexican art. On the Day of the Dead, you might even be eating a skull made of sugar and chocolate. But skulls on gravestones are not as popular today as they were in Victorian times. Death was big business for sculptors and masons, and the skull in various combinations with crosses, roses, and wings were not only a reminder of mortality but also of the flight of the soul, resurrection and eternity.
In Buddhism and Hinduism, skulls can be seen in their religious art. The Buddhist Lord of the Dead, Yama, has five skulls around his head, signifying the conquest of anger, greed, pride, envy and ignorance. Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Death wears a necklace of skulls.
Today, the skull is as popular as it ever was. In movies, games, literature, comics, and of course, tattoos, the skull continues to gather different symbolic implications as the creative imagination of the artist lets loose. Some designs are humorous, some macabre and threatening, but always Death is part of the picture.
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Tattoo designs - S >> Skulls
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