Traditional Indian tattoos are an enormous step away from the ordinary. Rich in superstition and symbolism, these “temporary tattoos” are most commonly a representation of transcendence for those bearing them and thus should never be taken lightly. The typical Indian tattoo is done using the art of Mehndi, a temporary ink made from the Henna plant which dyes the skin temporarily rather than permanently. However in recent decades many have adapted their intricate designs permanently, especially as enthusiasts from around the world seek inspiration from the art form. Despite mainstream acceptance and promotion, Indian tattoos are typically meant to display a deep respect for worship and the work put into all aspects of everyday life (rather than a means of of beauty and vanity). Unfortunately enough this is often overlooked as the “trend” continues to spread worldwide.
There are several superstitions surrounding the tattoos themselves. With regards to an Indian wedding, it has been said that a bride is never completely dressed unless both her hands and feet are adorned with a Mehndi tattoo. In fact, the darker the tattoo the better. This supposedly inspires the mother-in-law to have a deeper love for the bride herself. The tattoos themselves are generally made up of hundreds of tiny dots and tear drops encased in a lacy pattern of lines and circular shapes that extend up the arm. In the Arabic styling, the tattoos are incorporated into a more floral design and are drawn to one side of the woman’s hand rather than the entire palm. Some of the more popular Indian tattoos are those bearing the peacock and lotus blossom. The Asian elephant with its trunk raised high in the air is another favorite and is a widespread symbol of luck to those who bear it. The names of both the bride and groom in a wedding are quite often hidden within the design itself and, in some traditions, the wedding itself may not begin until the groom discovers their whereabouts in the tattoo.
Depending on one’s motivation for the tattoo at hand (especially in the United States where culture has a tendency to mix in order to showcase originality) the traditional Indian style of art tends to become blended with Arabic scripture. These tattoos almost always incorporate religious proverbs or inspirational sayings such as, “The journey of a thousand miles only starts with one step.” When it comes to spirituality itself, images of the gods Kali (the source of all life) and Shiva (destruction) are a vital piece of the puzzle.
As with nearly all forms of tattooing, placement is everything when considering Indian tattoos. There is almost always a deep spiritual connection with where the tattoo will reside. Brides, as mentioned, must decorate their hands and feet in order for the art to better partake in the night’s merriment. Married women will embed a vermilion “pottu” between the brows on their forehead so that they may proudly display their marital status. While generally shunned by the Middle-eastern religions, a convert to Islam will also sometimes tattoo their former names upon the neck or jaw line so that they may have a constant reminder of the life they left behind.
One can scarcely deny that Indian tattooing as a whole is by far one of the most inspiring and involved mediums that this world has to offer. The level of detail alone requires a deep commitment not often found in many other tattoo styles.
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Chinese art has always been a symbol of elegance and beauty, but over the last decade Chinese tattoos have had an explosion in popularity. The evidence of this can be seen in nightclubs, college campuses and celebrity photos, amongst other places. But what, besides the beauty of the art, would make these tattoos so popular? The main reason is that Chinese symbolism can be used to express so much, while still remaining simple and clean.
One of the most recognizable examples of this are kanji symbols. Though kanji writing has been adopted in Japan, the Chinese style of kanji has some modest differences and a wider vocabulary. These tattoos are often seen expressing certain emotions such as love, peace and even friendship.
Another common example in Chinese tattoos is the Yin and Yang. The exact meaning of this symbol is perfect balance. Each side represents a contrast; Yin being dark, earthly and female, Yang being light, airy and male. However, there are several ways people use this symbol, there is the classic round piece to start. Then the Yin and Yang enclosed in a lotus flower, the lotus flower being a another symbol of balance, not to mention perfection and purity. You can also do a Yin and Yang eye, which represents both an internal and an external balance; or a Yin and Yang heart, which can mean a balance of emotions.
One of the more striking pieces in Chinese tattoos is the dragon. Once associated with criminals, it has since become something of a trend in popular culture. The draw of this particular piece is that the dragon is seen as a symbol of power and even mystery. Many people, though, get these tattoos for aesthetic purposes without knowing exactly how they differ. For instance, a yellow dragon without horns is renowned for its knowledge, while a horned dragon is known to be the strongest of creatures.
Create beautiful scenes. For instance, bamboo — which is considered a symbol of longevity for its strength and resilience — and clouds as a backdrop to cranes, who are considered signs of wealth, long life and power; or deer, who are similarly thought to represent longevity through endurance and grace.
Chinese tattoos have long been associated with their meaning and each individual has their own reason, be it an expression of who they are, or who they want to become; a symbol of change in their life, or a reminder of those they love most. What makes a Chinese tattoo perfect is the variety and simplicity, being able to convey strong emotions with small symbols, not to mention that they will always be aesthetically powerful and graceful.
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In society there are many forms of expression; tattoos have become one of the most popular. With tattoos you can express everything from light to dark. Grim Reaper tattoos are one of the darker pieces people like to use. This idea is not surprising, not only for its sinister connotations, but its history. This symbol was initially used in tattoo art primarily by prison inmates and bikers. Since then, many people have adopted the symbol as an expression of the many changes in life, and as an embracement of their own mortality.
Though some people believe Grim Reaper tattoos promote evil, some contend that the Grim Reaper isn’t evil at all, but rather just another symbol of the cycle of life. This effect can easily be achieved by countering the traditional archetype of death with things that symbolize life or even rebirth, such as the ouroboros (a snake biting its own tail), or a tribal ‘circle of life’ design.
Many people, however, choose to get tattoos of the Grim Reaper either alone or as part of a scene that is more fitting to the nature of the symbol. The Grim Reaper is classically known as a skeletal figure swathed beneath a dark cloak and wielding a large scythe. However, the figure beneath the cloak doesn’t necessarily have to stop at a skeleton. It has also been seen as a blurred and pale face, or a face with no noticeable features at all.
Although it is common for Grim Reaper tattoos to depict a scythe, there are also legends of the menacing cloaked figure separating soul from body with a touch of his fingers. This slightly less common depiction can add a bit of drama to your tattoo.
Though Grim Reaper tattoos are generally seen in black and grey shades, some people like to incorporate rich colors. Reds can be used as blood or on a rose (which was once a symbol of survival from prosecution, but is now commonly associate with love), purple can be used as smoke, and yellow and orange as flames.
Some tattoos of the Grim Reaper also include him riding a horse. This can either be a light horse — as “Death” was describe in the Christian Bible as the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse who carried a scythe and rode a light horse — or a black horse, which represents decay and death.
The Grim Reaper often represents something that many people would like to avoid even thinking of. It is even seen by some as an agent of the devil. But to many of those who choose to use the Grim Reaper as a part of their tattoo, he is seen less as something wicked and more as a guide, showing souls to their final destination, and simply represents a natural part of living.
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Grim Reaper Tattoos