Skulls represent death, yet not every depiction of a skull in body art has to do with darkness or mourning. Sometimes it is merely a reminder of our own mortality, or a celebration of life. Most societies around the world feature the image of the skull in one way or another. Christians use the skull to symbolize eternity and repentance; indeed since the days of the Renaissance, it was prominently featured in a great deal of artwork. Other cultures, both Eastern and Western, incorporated a skull into various pieces of clothing or costumes to designate their triumph over an enemy. Mexico’s very important Day of the Dead holiday is really a day to celebrate life and during ceremonies, decorations of skeletons and skulls are quite common and traditional.
Photo by “mytat_2s” on Flickr
Perhaps the reason societies worldwide are eternally fascinated with skulls is that they so closely resembled a person’s face in life. When we see a skull, we think of a human – both alive and dead.
Photo by “Shannon Archuleta” on Flickr
As a tattoo, there are countless ways to portray a skull. Some of the more classic tattoos include the Jolly Roger flag, skull and crossbones, with a serpent threaded through the eye sockets, the Nazi Totenkopf, or reincarnated as a “talking head” in the style of Day of the Dead art. Bikers tend to favor a skull with flames, or a skeleton riding a motorcycle.
Photo by “ohdarling” on Flickr
A skull tattoo requires effective placement in order for it to really stand out. Some people have opted to ink a tiny skull on a finger or an ear lobe. There is at least man who has an entire skull decoration on his face. The traditional location is on the arm or back. While men are overwhelmingly the gender that opts for a skull tattoo, they can be prettied up some with a rose and become appropriate for a woman, too.