Monthly Archives: May 2012

barbwire tattoo

he barbwire tattoo is a tattoo design that first came out of prison culture, then it was adopted in Latino culture in Southern California, was then co-opted by modern tribal tattoo genre artists and then wildly popularized by Pamela Anderson! An interesting evolution for a tattoo design. Popular with both men and women, especially for arm bands. The definition of barbwireis: strong wire with barbs at regular intervals used to prevent passage.

navel piercing

crown tattoo

The crown has long been used as a symbol of royal power and authority. Like the sceptre, the crown is a visible badge of office, granting the wearer, it’s possessor, the absolute right to rule. That authority to rule was often held to be divinely inspired. In the Christiantradition the garland of thorns placed on Christ’s head during the ordeal of his crucifixion is know as the “Crown of Thorns”. The centerpiece of any coronation of a new monarch is always the moment when the new King, Queen, or Emperor has the state crown placed upon their head. At that moment the power to rule is transferred to the new monarch.

Many groups have used the crown to symbolize the power and authority to lead or command. When it is combined with a cross, one of the meanings of the crown is “victory,” and the cross symbolizes Christianity. Many Royal crowns in Europe incorporated the Christian Cross into their design, reinforcing the Monarch’s claim that their right to the throne was a divine right and that the Monarch was guided by the hand of God.

As a tattoo symbol, the crown doesn’t just mean the right of one person to command another. It symbolizes and individual’s sovereignty over their own life, feelings, thoughts, and actions. The crown symbolizes self-control, and is a reminder to use power and authority wisely and justly.

tribal phoenix

The mythological bird of fire is familiar to most of us, but perhaps not so well-known is in it’s original meaning — ‘phoenix’ in Greek means ‘palm tree’.

The phoenix is said to live for 500 years. When it grows tired, it builds a nest of aromatic twigs, and then sets fire to itself to be consumed in the funeral pyre of its own making. After three days, the phoenixwould arise from the ashes, reborn. According to Egyptian legend, it carries the embalmed ashes of its previous incarnation to Heliopolis, the city of the sun. The Egyptian phoenixwas said to sing sweetly, and to dazzle with its plumage of gold and scarlet and purple.

Tales of the phoenix appear in ancient Arabian, Greek, Roman, and Far Eastern mythology. In both Greek and Egyptian tales, the phoenix represented the sun, dying in flames at the end of the day and rising each morning. Early Christians came to view the flight of the phoenix as a symbol of rebirth and the resurrection, leaving the old world for the new world of the spirit, dying and rising again, reborn. It symbolized the victory of life over death, immortality, and Christ’s resurrection. Jewish legend describes the phoenix as the one creature that did not leave paradise with Adam, and that its legendary longevity is due to abstaining from the forbidden fruit that tempted the ‘first man’. On Roman coins, the phoenix represented an undying empire.

According to Chinese mythology, the phoenix is the symbol of grace and virtue and is second only in importance to the Dragon. It represents the union of yin and yang, and was a gentle creature associated with the Empress, who alone could wear its symbol. The feathers of the Chinese phoenixwere black, white, red, green and yellow – the five primary colours. In Japan, the phoenix is found carved into sword hilts, and the image of the bird seen as embroidery on kimonos. Along with the sun, the phoenix is one of the emblems of the Japanese Empire. In Japanese tattooing the phoenix is often twinned with the the dragon, symbolizing yin and yang, the harmonious combining of the best of the feminine and masculine virtues. U.S. Army gets a a custom freehand tribal phoenix tattoo design, done in morbid tattoo parlor in cash and carry mall Makati Manila, Philippines.

person of the arts

The Japanese word geisha means ‘person of the arts’ and a true geisha is said to be a livingwork of art. To the Westerner, she is a figure of mystery and intrigue. Her white mask-like makeup hides emotions, her traditional black wig is dressed with tinkling bells, and her small body is wrapped tightly in kimonos of breathtaking colour and exquisite design, bound in the middle with the wide sash or obi. In her thonged sandals, her white-socked feet take tiny steps. In her hand, she holds a fan, the complex and intricate use of which speaks a language of its own. The colour red was also a trademark for the geisha, and kimonos were lined with scarlet silk. It was believed that red symbolized fertility, and that wearing crimson underwear was essential for healthy reproductive organs. Lipstick — always red — was made from crimson flower petals.

Geisha tattoos find their way into designs on sleeves and torsos of both men and women. Not so much in Japan, though, where the geisha and her art are seen as tourist attractions, or as relics of the past.

In feudal times men donned women’s garb, painted their faces white and performed dances for the battle-worn samurai and weary noblemen, who sought entertainment for relief. Centuries later, these practices had become so popular that women joined the ranks of performers. By the 18th century, the geisha industry was becoming popular with men of status and power. At huge expense, the services of a geisha house would provide amusement and entertainment for clients and their esteemed guests in the exclusive teahouses – ochaya – of Kyoto.

A true geisha went through years of training for her art, and the training was expensive. Poor families were sometimes approached by geisha houses offering money for young girls. The young apprentice, called maiko, became skilled in playing traditional musical instruments and mastering ancient dance. Singing, calligraphy, poetry, tea ceremonies, flower arrangement and the correct serving of drinks were among her many skills. She was required to listen and sometimes engage intelligently in conversation with her clients and patrons, and to honour a code of silence with regard to what she heard. The success of a geisha depended on her talent, sophistication, beauty, and skilfulness in etiquette.

The personal life of a geisha was hardly separate from the geisha house to which she belonged. Though she was permitted to take a patron, usually a wealthy man who could afford a costly geisha mistress, as danna, or lover, a geisha was never contracted for sexual favours. It was not unusual for a geisha to remain a virgin all her life. In spite of lurid speculation, her life was extremely demanding and not suited to casual love affairs.

During the 1930s, as Japan began to embrace industrialization and western trends and fashions, geisha houses came to be viewed as old-fashioned. Then, with the onset of WWII and the American occupation of Japan, the highly exclusive world of the geisha was shattered. The geisha tradition was often misconstrued as sexual, due in part to it taking place behind closed doors. For some prostitutes, the geisha’s prestige and favourable image were ‘borrowed’ for their own ends, giving rise to further confusion as to the geisha’s true social role.

Though the traditional training methods still exist today in Japan, most geisha training is voluntary, and greatly reduced in duration and content. Geisha districts are rare and costly to run, and performances are mostly reserved for tourists. Still, the traditional trademarks of the geisha — white face, red lipstick, pretty kimono and obi, and the ornate black wig, still enchant the Western visitor who can dress up in full geisha costume, wig included, when touring Kyoto, the traditional geisha centre in Japan.

As a tattoo design, the geisha represents the epitome of feminine allure, power and mystique. Like a rare orchid, hidden deep in the mists of the jungle, the geisha is famed for her beauty, but is unattainably out of reach, more myth than reality, a dream, an aspiration. The geisha is often part of a larger scene, where a brave samurai comes to her aide, protecting her from evil, harm or danger. Each of the characters plays a role in thetableau, no less than the dragon or the demon.

tiger tattoo

The Tiger is a potent symbol across Asia in many cultures and has long been a fixture in indigenous tattooing in India, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Japan. Tigers are associated with power, ferocity, passion and sensuality, beauty and speed, cruelty and wrath. The appearance of a tiger in a dream may signal that new power or passion may awaken within you.

The Koreans call the tiger the ‘King of the Animals’. In Hinduism the god Shiva, in his aspect of the destroyer, is depicted wearing a tiger skin and riding a tiger. The tiger isgenerally seen as a symbol of power and strength, but also of destruction and violence. The tiger can be a symbol of both life and death, evil and evil’s senseless or destructive power. In China, tiger images are used as charms to ward off evil. Stone tigers are common protective guards outside of buildings and houses. At the time of the Chou dynasty, images of tigers were hung in pregnant woman’s rooms to protect the unborn baby. In some areas tigers are thought to punish sinners, in the name of a supreme being, by attacking them.

 

buddha and the bodhi tree

Many of the symbols we now know as ‘Buddhist’ originated from the Hindu tradition, since it was into the Hindu culture and religion that PrinceSiddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, was born. Not until several centuries after his death did symbols relating specifically to the Buddha, and the religion he inspired, come into being.

The first archeological evidence of Buddhist symbols were from the time of the Hindu King Ashoka, who was inspired by the teachings of Buddha. The king lived around 250 BC in Sarnath, India, a site still visited today for its wealth of archeological discoveries pertaining to early Buddhism. Ashoka’s devotion to the Buddha’s teachings gave birth to the creation of many of the symbols and images familiar in Buddhism today.

It was not until around 100 BC that any actual images of the Buddha himself appeared. In his lifetime, Buddha – a term that simply means one who has attained enlightenment – had discouraged any attempts by his disciples to venerate him personally. Buddhism, unlike Hinduism into which he was born, includes no references to gods, goddesses, or mono-theism. It was the teachings that were important, not his physical incarnation. All of us, on the path to enlightenment, has the potential to become a Buddha.

The earliest symbols of those teachings were the Eight Spoked Dharma Wheel and the Bodhi Tree. Other representations of the Buddha appeared as the Buddha’s Footprints, the Lotus, an Empty Throne, a Begging Bowl, and a Lion.

Lotus FlowerLotus Flower
Padma – Symbol of Purity. Can be of any colour except blue.
The WheelDharmachakra
The wheel of the law. The eight spokes represent the eightfold path.
StupaStupa
The stupa is a symbolic grave monument where relics or the ashes of a holy monk are kept. It also symbolises the universe.
The Three JewelsTriratana
The three jewels – the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.
ChattraChattra
A parasol – protection against all evil; high rank.
DhvajaDhvaja
Banner – the victory of the Buddha’s teachings.
DeerDeer
The deer -usually in pairs- symbolises the firstsermon of the Buddha which was held in the deer park of Benares.
NagaNaga
The snake king. Vestige of pre-Buddhist fertility rituals and protector of the Buddha and the Dhamma.

Around 600 AD there appeared an abundance of new imagery and artwork associated with the Buddha and his teachings. This was due to the spiritual practice of ‘imagination and visualization’ as a technique for self-realization – achieving Nirvana – which had become popular at that time. This tradition is preserved mainly in Tibetan Buddhism and the Japanese Shingon tradition.

The Buddha image eventually became very popular in Buddhism, although to this day, those early symbols have remained in use, especially in Theravada Buddhism which is practiced in countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand.

As Buddhism spread out from India into neighbouring countries like Tibet, the symbolism became further enriched and elaborated upon. In places like Tibet, the ‘Eight Auspicious Symbols’ became central to their religious practice, most commonly appearing on prayer flags and incorporated into mandalas for meditative contemplation. Tibetan Buddhism also established the Wheel of Life as a meditation on the universe and its karmic laws.

The Bodhi Tree, symbol of Buddha’s enlightenment, is a reminder of the ultimate human potential that lies within us all. ‘Bodhi’ in the Sanskrit language, means ‘fully awake’.

Some people see this sacred Buddhist symbol as the ‘World Tree’, the mythical tree whose roots lie deep in the earth and whose branches support the heavens. A ‘tree of life’. In fact, the tree under which Buddha attained his enlightenment was an asiatic fig, or ficus religiosa. Of all the tattoo symbols that one couldadopt, there are few more immediately suggestible of spiritual practice than the Bodhi tree.

Prince Siddhartha Guatama, said to have lived some 2500 years ago on the northern plains of India, abandoned his life of luxury and privilege – not to mention his wife and child – and began wandering the countryside in search of eternal truths. Frustrated after years of living as an ascetic with nothing to show for it, he committed himself to sitting in complete stillness until he ‘woke up’. There he would stay, meditating under a Bodhi tree until he realized the true nature of suffering and existence. The rest is history, or myth, but in any event, the origins of a religion ofcompassion that thrives to this day.

As well as symbolizing ‘enlightenment’, the Bodhi tree is synonymous with the very place of Buddha’s awakening, Bodhgaya, India. It also represents our human evolution towards liberation from endless reincarnations in which suffering is inescapable. Buddha’s tree is also sacred because of its age. At the site of Buddha’s enlightenment, a descendent of the original tree is said to be growing today. And at some Buddhist centres around the world, offshoots of the famous Bodhi tree can be found.

The Bodhi tree as a symbol was already popular in India, so that elevating the Bodhi tree, or its leaf to sacred status was not a great leap of faith, belief or imagination for most people. In the third century BC, India’s King Ashoka bolstered the Bodhi tree’s reputation by converting to Buddhism and practising his meditations under the original tree. His Queen, failing to appreciate the subtler points of his time-consumingconversion, had the tree chopped down, in an attempt to regain the attention of her beloved. Ashoka is said to have nourished the remaining stump and its roots with milk, and the tree revived, eventually growing once again to its full stature again. His daughter became a Buddhist nun and transplanted a cutting to a garden in a monastery in Sri Lanka, where it stands today as the oldest continually documented tree in the world.

Buddha, the original Prince Siddhartha Gautama, never intended for his enlightenment to metamorphisize into a religion complete with dogma and prayers. He was sure, however, that his experience would be helpful to others. Whatever wisdom he left behind was intended to be used as a guide for anyone who truly yearned to triumph over the suffering of this world and achieve a state of ‘Nirvana’. A potent beginning is simply to appreciate the ultimate wisdom symbolized by the Bodhi tree.

As such a Bodhi tree tattoo design is a powerful symbol indeed. Australian client gets a buddha meditating behind the bodhi tree design, done in morbid tattoo parlor in cash and carry mall Makati Manila, Philippines.

music notes tattoo

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without,” said Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher. William Shakespeare managed to say it in fewer words. “If music be the food of love, play on.”

The very sight of musical symbols is enough to put a person in that pleasurable mood of which Confucius speaks, which perhapsexplains why people incorporate musical motifs in tattoo designs. The most recognizable signs in the musical realm are thetreble clef, the staff, and the notes.

Clef, of course, is French for ‘key’, and it is the first sign we encounter on a sheet of music. It is superimposed over the five lines of the staff, and it’s purpose is to indicate the pitch of the written notes. The familiar ‘treble clef’ looks like a grandiose ‘S’, but its critical component is the curl. The line on the staff that passes through that curl is identified as G, which is why it’s also called the G-clef. In earlier times, it was known as the ‘violin clef’, because it marked the treble – or highest (pre-pubescent) – voice part.

By identifying G, the other notes on the staff – E G B D F – are also known, since their relationship to G never changes. Similarly, the F-clef, also called the ‘base clef’, assigns the note F to the line on the staff that falls between the two dots of the clef.

Is the treble clef a stylized ‘G’, or is it an ‘S’? There is, in fact, a connection between S and G. The syllable ‘sol’ was the name given to G in the medieval system for naming notes, which is still in use today – do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do. Those syllables were drawn from the first syllables of each successive verse in a choral hymn to St. John the Baptist, around 1000 AD. At some point in its evolution, ‘sol’ was shortened to ‘so’, so that all the syllables ended in a vowel.

Musical currency is the ‘note’, which has three distinct parts. The rounded head is either white (open), or black (closed). Other than whole notes or double whole notes, the note sign comes with a stem and a flag to indicate its (shorter) time value.

Historically, all notes started out being solid black. But with the introduction of paper in Europe, scribes struggled to keep the ink from bleeding along the fibres, which created a blob. The solution was to use less ink, and the best way to do that was todraw notes in outline. With that, the white note was born.

Cultures much more ancient than the Europeans had devised systems for denoting music, including the Egyptians, the Chinese, and early peoples living in Anatolia (modern Turkey). As early as 200 BC, the Greeks applied a system of ‘accents’ to texts that were meant to be sung. The oldest evidence of a complete musical composition from Western cultures is the Greek Seikilos Epitaph.

push knife tattoo

 Knife and Dagger Tattoo designs and symbols are a reoccurring theme and image (that means they pop up a lot!) in many different tattoo genres and eras, and are often tattooed by themselves as a singular object or as an integral part of a gruesome tale!

The ancient Aztecs used special ceremonial daggers to cut the still beating hearts out of their human sacrifices as they paid homage to their Gods. Such a dagger represented the fearsome and capricious power of the Gods.

Throughout the Middle East, in Babylon, Mesopotamia, Persia and many other cultures, knives were used to kill animals on special altars to sacrifice them to the Gods. The image of a knife and blood-letting and death are all firmly intertwined. The ability to spill blood, the very essence of life, is an extraordinarily powerful image and a very potent symbol. At its most primal level, the knife or dagger represents Death.

Daggers and knives are present in many Military tattoos because of their use as a weapon – perfect for close fighting and because of their silence. Special Forces Units are particularly prone to using daggers in their regimental and unit crests. The symbolism of a knife or dagger tattoo in a military design is very similar to that of a sword, with perhaps a slightly less noble pedigree. The knife or dagger represents ferocity, quickness, tenacity and death at the hands of another. The knife can also represent an assassin.

As a weapon, the knife and dagger go back to the most ancient of times, and the sword evolved as a weapon in an arm’s race to make the biggest, most dangerous and most powerful dagger. All knights and noblemen carried daggers as weapons in addition to their spears and lances and swords, because a knife or dagger was literally a fighting man’s last line of defense. When you and an enemy were face to face, when your spear was thrown or broken, when your sword was struck from your hand, you still had a chance – you reached for the knife or dagger in your belt.

But the knife or dagger was more than just a weapon to a fighting man, or make that any man at all. It was also the primary tool in his arsenal. Knives were used to skin animals, fashion shelter, sharpen sticks to make in to other weapons, and most importantly, to eat with! The knife was the utility tool of its day for the better part of the history of mankind. Even before the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, men were making lethal knives chipped out of flint and attached to bone or antler hilts.

Because a knife had so many uses, and was used by every member of early cultures, the rich and wealthy, the powerful and the Nobility, soon began to decorate the hilts of their daggers with gold and jewels until they became potent symbols of rank. A Nobleman displayed his wealth and his rank when he used his best dagger to spear a piece of meat when he sat down with his peers. A bejeweled dagger was a powerful status item.

Even today, an integral part of a Scots ceremonial dress when wearing the traditional kilt, is a dagger – similar to the Scottish dirk – or Sgian Dubh (pronounced “skeen doo”), thrust into the hose. A man might have to take off his sword when entering a home or castle, but he was still armed in case of unexpected danger or treachery!

Sikhs also wear a ceremonial dagger, the kirpan ( as part of the five K’s), as a symbol that they are warriors for their faith.

And daggers and knives were such a prominent part of life, that many traditions that we take for granted today, started because of their very prevalence.

Men began shaking hands when greeting each other to demonstrate that they were not concealing a dagger.

Expressions such as, “I was stabbed in the back”, meant you had been taken unawares, and betrayed from behind. Knives and daggers even had their place in romance, to be “stabbed in the heart”, was to be betrayed by love.

These kinds of images are very popular in Old School tattoo designs, and in New School tattooing today.

Knife or Dagger Dripping Blood – symbolizes, “I have a knife and I am not afraid to use it.” On other words, the design symbolizes the willingness to take action, to be bold and fearless. And to strike fear into the hearts of others. It is the sign of a person not to be taken lightly.

Knife or Dagger though a Skull – symbolizes Death. This tattoo is often used as an amulet or talisman for protection. In many cultures, particularly in Southeast Asia, warriors often get special tattoos that are meant to repel a knife attack. A Burmese tribesman with a magical tattoo goes into battle knowing he is impervious to the thrust of a knife. In Prison Culture, such a tattoo may represent a man who has committed murder.

Knife or Dagger Through the Heart – symbolizes betrayal in love, often though infidelity. It may also indicate a certain cynicism about the possibilities of romance and true love, and the tattoo then becomes a symbol or irony.

Knife or Dagger Through a Human Head – a common tattoo for soldiers going to war. During the Second World War, many soldiers after Pearl Harbor got a tattoo of a knife plunged through an Asian or Oriental Head. While we could not help but see that as racist today, you have to consider it in the context of the time and place.

Skull with a Knife in its Teeth – symbolizes action. You often see tattoo designs were Skulls, Demons, Pirates – all figures of power and terror – are portrayed with knives clenched in their teeth. There is no clearer way to symbolize, I am ready for anything!

Knife or Dagger Tattoo that appears to enter the flesh, the tip often reappearing – symbolizes that an individual has been wounded in life, or expects to be. Like the knife or dagger tattoo through the heart, this tattoo design indicates a certain cynicism or world-weariness. An acknowledgement that life is hard and often unfair.

Culturally Significant Knives and Daggers – Because special knives play a role in so many different cultures, getting a tattoo design of that knife or dagger is a way for an individual to celebrate their ethnic heritage.

Western astrological sign of Capricorn

The Western astrological sign of Capricorn is part of the tropical zodiac (December 22 (Winter solstice) – January 20) and the sidereal zodiac (January 15 – February 12). It is associated with the constellation Capricornus and the classical element of Earth, making it an Earth sign. it is one of the Cardinal signs (along with Aries, Cancer and Libra). Its symbol is the Goat.

Saturn, planet of discipline, organization and focus, is the ruler of the sign. Mars is in its exaltation here, while Jupiter is in its fall and the Moon is in its detriment.

According to astrology, those under Capricorn influence tend to be conservative and practical. The parts of the body ruled by the sign are the knees as well as the skeleton in general. custom black and gray Capricorn tattoo, done in morbid tattoo parlor in cash and carry mall Makati Manila, Philippines.