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Tattoo Symbolism > View symbols

Tattoo Symbolism

An Encyclopedia of the Symbolism, Meaning and Magic Behind Popular Tattoo Designs

by AdamSkyArtist

April 8, 2005

Continued from page 1…

infinityInfinity

Sometimes referred to as a Moebius Strip, this is a connecting loop with a half twist in it, symbolizing a connection that continues back on it's self infinitely or perhaps a two dimensional object with only one side. Also thought of as a sphere with two sides, the Moebius Strip is accredited to nineteenth century mathematician and astronomer August Mobius. The Moebius strip is the mathematical equation of infinity: Something that never ends and never has a beginning.

 

Maltese Cross (Iron Cross)

This symbol of the cross is truly Christian in origin although the term 'Maltese Cross' covers a broad spectrum of various incarnations of the fluted cross symbol. Originally manifested from the Maltese CrossCrusader's Cross, the Maltese Cross and it's alternatives have always been symbolic of the militaristic wing of Christianity. Following the Great Crusade, the defenders of Christianity took up the Hospitaller's Cross - a cross of four arrow heads meeting together at a single point depicting the united might of this sacred order. In the mid 1500's when the knights moved to Malta, the familiar design of the Maltese Cross makes an appearance. The Prussians adopted the Maltese Cross and incorporated it into the Prussian Iron Cross which became an honorable decoration for valor in the War of Liberation against Napoleon. The Iron Cross continued to be used to decorate German soldiers during World War I and between both wars it remained a prestigious honor. In 1939 Hitler reintroduced the Iron Cross with a swastika emblazoned on it. The swastika was outlawed in Germany in 1945 following the fall of Nazi tyranny and the Iron Cross was yet again reintroduced as a medal of valor for German military in 1957 but without any relics of the bygone Nazi affiliation. Today the Iron Cross is sometimes worn for shock value by Neo-Fascists as a way to infer Nazism without actually displaying the swastika. In contrast, the Maltese Cross is commonly depicted in red as the Cross Pattee as an international symbol for fire fighters.

Nautical Starnautical star

Nautilus: The North Star is symbolized by the five pointed star with beveled edges. The North Star hangs fixated above magnetic north and for centuries, maritimers have relied on the North Star for navigation as it's a reliable fixed point in the night's sky in which to fix your sextant. The symbol of Nautilus can be found on charts and sea faring maps and is usually plastered at magnetic north although sometimes the star simply affixes north on a map that doesn't display the north pole. It's translation into a tattoo from historic merchant sailors is like many others; a safe return to home port. Also, it conotates that the wearer may have sailed the northern oceans.

Pentagrampentagram

The pentagram, the five-pointed star image with its lines often interlaced, is typically enclosed within a circle; and thus, in most traditions, is a symbol of protection. The top point represents true spirit; or the Goddess, the other four points symbolize the elements of creation: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. The star, as a whole, symbolizes the spirit bringing the elements into natural harmony. Typically, the pentagram represents a powerful and positive force in paganism although inverted so the top point is protruding down, the symbol depicts something demonic. The upside down pentagram was made popular by Church of Satan founder Anton La Vey in 1966 and was often illustrated with a goat's head within the star; the top points being the goat's horns, the side points being it's ears and the bottom point being it's snout. The upside down pentagram is now synonymous as a symbol of the Devil or of chaos.

Phoenixphoenix

The phoenix is an ancient legend of a bird that would live for a thousand years. When it's life was coming to an end, the phoenix would create it's own funeral pyre in which it would self immolate and become reborn in it's own ashes to live again for another thousand years. As a tattoo, the phoenix is typified as a mighty bird made by or coming from flame. Sometimes in Eastern art the phoenix is pictorialized as a bird of paradise somewhat resembling a peacock. The phoenix typically identifies rebirth through a dramatic transformation or triumph over adversary.

Praying Handspraying hands

The classic tattoo of hands brought together in prayer with the pinky fingers slightly crooked and the hint of a cuff of robe is derivative of a painting by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer. Praying hands displays communication with the divine or at least a proclamation of Christian spirituality.

 

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