Featured Image from: Pacho Tattoo
There are two distinct objects that can represent life. And to have these objects turned into a design and tattooed unto your skin is to declare to the world that you have fully accepted what life holds in store. The only thing that life can promise is death. To have a skull and sword tattoo can serve as a metaphor for you and how you’ve understood what it means to live.
To Have a Head Above Your Shoulders
The skull, as a design, has been used in so many brands – it’s pretty much an understatement to say that it’s iconic. From headphones to rock and roll bands and comic book superheroes – the skull is an emblem for bad-assery. So, for you to get a skull tattoo – to have that symbol of being bad-ass inked on your skin forever – what does that say about your life choices?
I’m sure you have five words:
—and that is exactly why you have a skull tattoo!
But apart from being a very nice person who doesn’t care about what other people think, here are the other meanings behind a skull tattoo:
- An Understanding of Life and Mortality as a ConceptThe skeleton has been, for the longest time, a symbol of death. After all, it is the last thing all things living end up becoming before turning to dust. It is the remnant of our physical being, and the skull is our head, our face – it is the ultimatelyundeniable thing that was once “us.” With that, we can conclude that the skull is a design that represents the death of a person’s character.
For you to have that as a tattoo can be equated to a person who has accepted, or at the very least, understood, what it means to die. The skull tattoo serves as a reminder that this life is not permanent, and everyone eventually kicks the bucket.
- An Homage to the Day of the Dead (also known as Dia de los Muertos)The Day of the Dead is a huge celebration in Mexico and Latin America, and I’m sure you’ve seen their decorative, intricate skull designs. One way or another, these designs have already been appropriated by artists and businesses in various forms of creative media, and to have it as a tattoo can only serve as an allusion to the popular fiesta. Since the Day of the Dead is a celebration of both life and death, to have this type of skull design as a tattoo is also symbolic of a person’s reverence for culture.
With the Day of the Dead declared a national holiday in Mexico, to have a skull tattoo bearing its designs is to celebrate the tradition every day. This is what the permanence of tattoos mean – to be a daily reminder of one’s ideologies.
- Echoing an Image of EvilAgain, with the skull or skeleton often perceived as or associated with death, it has also been an image for evil. In popular culture, for instance, the skull is often usedas the logo forsuper-villains. We also have pirates, whose sails and flags come bearing the infamous skull and crossbones, and these vagrants of the sea don’t exactly have the best reputations out there. Death, above all else, has also been one of the things that humans have associated with evil. Remember how certain religions come with promises of “eternal life” or a “life after death” – why is there an emphasis on immortality? Is this what being good means? To escape death?
Before I completely digress, we can conclude that it comes as no real surprise why the skull has always been an emblem for evil, darkness, and death. The tattoo of a skull will often bear these meanings to any, or most, conservative. But really, it is the meaning that we ascribe to a design that matters. Whether or not we believe that having a skull tattoo makes us look tougher and meaner on the outside, it is our own personal beliefs that will dictate how choose to live out our lives. (Well that went deeper than I had planned…)
The Ultimate Weapon of Any Hero
The sword is just as prevalent an image as the skull when it comes to visual designs. From the oldest of epics to the most futuristic of fantasy and science fiction stories, the sword has been a powerful image. As a tattoo, the sword can bear several meanings, given its historic symbolisms.
- A Wide Range of Virtues
A sword tattoo is associated with many attributes, all evoking positive traits. This tattoo website, in particular, lists down twelve, from justice to freedom. It isn’t a shock to go through the list and come up with the linkages between strength and the sword as a design. They’re pretty self-explanatory, as we’ve grown up to watch how the sword is represented in various forms of media. With this in mind, we can say that the sword is a universal design that can represent positivist, hero characteristics. As the primary weapon of the heroic good, a sword is wielded by the noble and kind-hearted to slay all evil.
Since the sword can carry this meaning – does it not make a beautiful binary to the skull, which is stereotypically associated with death and negativity? The image of a sword pierced through a skull is a recurring design, from tattoos to film sequences, as it symbolizes triumph – the glory of victory; of good beating evil. All in all, the sword has always been a symbol of virtue, and to use it as a tattoo design speaks about the person and how the value honour and character.
- The Power of the MindAs a symbol, the sword is said to also be a symbol for the mind and its ability to “penetrate” our current way of thinking, and push us past our limits. The expression “mind over matter” is a manifestation of this, and the sword is believed to be a symbol for intellect as a weapon. It is something we can wield to our advantage – to cut out a path for our own victories. I find it interesting that we’ve come to use a tool for war and battle as a symbol for something so abstract such as the mind and intellect. Again, we see how the sword is used as a design that expresses the valuable characteristics of man.
The Skull and Sword on Your Skin
To have a tattoo bearing a skull and sword in the design is to express one’s self and the characteristics that they hold dear. Take, for instance, given the above mentioned meanings that either design may symbolize, a person with a skull and sword tattoo is someone who feels and thinks deeply about life and man. These people are those who have reflected, and those who continue to try and understand, what life really means.
The skull, as the ethereal symbol for death, is such an existentialist symbol, but it also showcases an aesthetic that boasts of fearlessness. The sword, meanwhile, is the logo for all things heroic. It may come off as archaic, but it is this attachment to age-old tales that the sword can effectively symbolize knightly, angelic traits like courage and honour, among others. The interweaving of these two established tattoo designs can produce several meanings, but if I saw a person with a skull and sword tattoo, one thing immediately comes to mind: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Maybe, this is what the combination truly means – that we are the master of this universe.