Now that we’re past Halloween and the Day of the Dead, I’d like to consider the use of death images in body art.
Skulls, skeletons, and other ancient images of death remain incredibly popular as body art. In ancient times such markings would have been used as a symbol of power, or for protection from evil (archaeologists turn up such designs all the time, all over the world). Today, at least in “western” society, those images are often used to convey a message. Politely phrased it would be “Don’t mess with me.”
Gang tattoos are loaded with death symbolism, in an attempt to convey power, fearlessness and the disposal of enemies. But the skull-and-crossbones motif once used to identify a pirate has long since passed into popular culture and adorns many bodies today as well. Some body art explicitly displays the destruction of other living beings. Some just conveys the threat.
As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” To my somewhat mystical way of thinking, such toxic images would be poisonous to the soul of the wearer. I feel that body art should represent something positive to its wearer–even if that image is in honor of someone who has died. One of my tattoos is in memory of my grandmother, but it’s a bold and colorful dragon. I would not put a tombstone on my skin.
What do you feel about images of death and destruction? Are they just so much ink, or does their presence affect their wearer in some way? Am I just too far over the moon?
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photo credit: katie cowden