for tattooed people, and those who want to be

soul and inspiration, part 3: Spiritual designs


Today I’m going to talk about a somewhat different approach to tattoos that honor one’s spiritual beliefs.

A lot of people want designs that represent some aspect of their religion or spirituality. From crosses and Stars of David, toreligious tattoo flash
pentagrams and crescent moons, to stylized representations of all kinds of deities, it’s often important to have a symbol of something that plays a major role in one’s life.

But there’s nothing that says one has to settle for the same-old-same-old in this area. I know that religious beliefs are kind of a touchy subject, so I’m going to try to take a somewhat general approach to this.

There are fairly common symbols of most major religions, like the Christian cross or the Jewish Star of David or the Muslim crescent. Many people find those symbols to be profound representations of their beliefs and that’s all they want or need when it comes to picking a design. But almost all world religions have ancient roots, and perhaps it would be better to look at designs that are less common but still profoundly representative.

Great art on canvas, great art on skin

Start by looking in books about religious art. There are wonderful pictures and designs from illuminated manuscripts from the past. There are photos of temples, churches, and mosques with glorious artwork incorporated into their interiors and exteriors, any of which could be adapted into a tattoo design. How about something from the Book of Kells? Here is a link to a site that will sell you the whole thing on DVD, and you can browse the text and illuminations to your heart’s content.

Or, how about some of the glorious Islamic decorations from the Taj Mahal? Most of us have only seen the standard pictures from a distance that show the entire building, but when one looks closer, one can truly appreciate the brilliance of the artists who created it.

Likewise, the Torah has been illuminated by countless artists and can be a rich source of inspiration. Here is a link to a modern illuminated Torah that should be a great source for unique religious designs.

Architectural inspiration

Arabic arabesques
And of course that’s only the beginning. Try to think of buildings, art, and other representations of your beliefs that could be adapted for your design and I’m sure you’ll find a wide world full of inspiration.

One caution, though. If you find photos of other people with tattoos or painted designs, please, don’t copy those designs exactly. Those designs have personal and religious meaning to the person who wears them–think how you’d feel if someone who knew nothing about your religion copied something from your tradition for purely decorative purposes without knowing what it meant. Be as respectful to those people as you would wish them to be to you.

Which, come to think of it, is an appropriate way to think about spiritual design.

photo credit: mockstar
photo credit: Ya Susanne

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.

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