The Vikings were much more than plunderers and barbarians. These were complex individuals; farmers, skilled seafarers, believers in destiny and the balance of the universe, and keen travelers. Their lifestyle and beliefs have served as inspiration for literature, films, and tattoos. Although little historical evidence exists to confirm that the Vikings were heavily tattooed, this belief is widely accepted. Their notorious reputation is associated with strength, bravery, and fearlessness, and their symbols are meaningful and beautiful, making tor a fantastic inking. For those with Scandinavian ancestry, it can be a way to honor their heritage; for others, it can be a celebration of these people’s values. Or a thought-provoking design inspired by destiny, beliefs, or mythology. Keep reading to become to find out all you need to know.
Who are the Vikings?
The Vikings are remembered for being fearless and brutal warriors, whose bravery and skills on the battlefield have earned them respect. They are often connected with strength and power, and their lives and beliefs have inspired countless pieces of art, films, and body art. Vikings originated in Scandinavian countries, now known as Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. They thrived during the 8th and 11th centuries, known as the Viking Age, where they traveled across much of Europe, raiding and conquering new lands.
History of Viking Tattoos
Although little historical evidence exists to confirm that the Vikings were heavily tattooed, what we do know comes from Arabic scholars describing the Norsemen. These ancient warriors and raiders were formidable. Their notorious reputation has become a symbol of strength, fearlessness, and courage, which is why people continued to be inspired by their body art and decide to get inked with meaningful Viking pieces. Tattoos would have been of patterns, symbols, and animals and would have had great importance to the wearer. Their ink was a way to express themselves, instill fear, or honor the gods.
1. Traditional Viking Tattoo
Body art was a way to establish a social hierarchy, a means of expression and personal identification, and also had the ability to instill fear in others. Many people are drawn to Traditional Viking tattoos to honor the notorious raiders and warriors of the Medieval world. If you opt for this approach, you will likely choose something large and detailed; this can be several images that tell a story or a series of intricate patterns and symbols. The warriors were known to cover up much of their bodies with ink, so they choose a location that is large enough to allow for detailing. A great choice would be the shoulder and arm, or the chest and back.
2. Valknut Tattoo
While many Viking symbols involve complex designs, some are simple, like the Valknut. It is made up of three interlocking triangles with nine points, which represent the afterlife. You may choose this because you want to show you are not afraid of death; you contemplate morality or the balance between life on earth and the heavens. It can also be worn as a protective symbol. Deciding to get a Valknut tattoo is an excellent choice for someone who prefers a more minimalist approach to body art, and it is perfect as a first piece or tenth piece. In addition, it can also be inked anywhere on the body, from the chest to the wrist, because it is not a design that requires a lot of space for detailing.
3. The Helm of Awe Tattoo
The Helm of Awe or Aegishjalmur is one of the most popular choices for a Viking-inspired tattoo. Not only is it fascinating to look at, but it is also rich in symbolism; it is a magical stave that warriors wore as a symbol of protection, but they also believe it gave them strength and courage and helped them to victory in battle. It may have been inked between their eyebrows or somewhere exceptionally visible, although you do not have to opt for a location that is quite so daring. This striking piece is also a conversation starter, so choose your placement wisely and wear it with pride.
4. Thor Hammer Tattoo
Thor’s hammer, also known as mjölnir, is associated with power, thunder, and lightning. It is believed that Thor was using the weapon to defeat giants, and deciding on a tattoo of it will represent courage, strength, and bravery. He was the protector of Asgard, so it can also be worn as a protective symbol. This is a fantastic choice for someone who views themselves as having or valuing these qualities or wants the world to know that that will protect what they care about at all costs.
5. Web of Wyrd Tattoo
One of the best things about Viking tattoos is that they are so interesting and unique. Each piece is intriguing to look at and they are also rich in symbolism. The Web of Wyrd is an interwoven line design that represents the past, present, and future. It is also a connection of the fates and how each decision we make can directly influence the outcome of our lives. The Vikings strongly believed that they were bound to a predetermined destiny, which may have been one of the reasons they lived so fearlessly. It can serve as a reminder to the wearer to live well, choose wisely and be without regrets. Or it can be a way to let go of the things that hold you back. The simplicity of the design makes it a great choice if you want a smaller tattoo and if it can be inked anywhere on the body.
6. Troll Cross Tattoo
During the Viking era, there was the belief that trolls and elves existed. There was a powerful symbol, the troll cross, which could be worn as an amulet to protect the wearer from danger and provide safety to keep themselves from these creatures. It appears rounded at the top, with the two bottom pieces crossing over. A troll cross tattoo can be a way to ward off negative energy or be a reminder to avoid people and things that will do you harm.
7. Rune Tattoo
If you want your body art to tell a story, then opting for a rune tattoo is a wonderful way to do this. The runes are an ancient Viking alphabet of sorts designed to describe places and things. There are 24 of them, each with important symbolism. These include representations for Odin and Yggdrasil. You can combine several runes to create meaningful ink or opt for a single one. Thanks to the relative simplicity of these symbols, it is easy to recreate them in several sizes, either big or small, which gives you the option to play around with placement options. Maybe you love finger tattoos, in which case this is fantastic. Or perhaps you want a large piece along your rib or spine? The choice is yours.
8. Ouroboros Tattoo
Many symbols represent rebirth, continuity, and the circle of life, but none are as striking as an ouroboros tattoo. The image shows a giant snake in a circular shape, eating its tail. With these pieces comes powerful symbolism, as it represents eternity, life and death, and renewal. In addition to the meaning, it also makes for an interesting design that will likely become a conversation starter. You may want to add to the importance of your ink by opting to combine several images, for example, by adding Viking runes. This can make your design even more personal and unique.
9. Yggdrasil Tattoo
If you want a tree of life design that is meaningful and beautiful, then you need a Yggdrasil tattoo. In Norse mythology, the sacred tree connects all nine worlds in its branches and roots and thus represents everything in the universe. It is a powerful symbol associated with harmony, cosmos, power, wisdom, and destiny. Although the image on its own makes for a stunning tattoo, you can tailor it to your tastes by adding various images. This may be of ravens, runes, or intricate patterns.
10. Vegvisir Viking Compass Tattoo
Vegvisir Viking Compass tattoos are an excellent option for someone who wants body art associated with guidance, direction, and protection. The object was also thought to bring good luck on journeys and help the individual to weather any storms or difficulties that came their way. It is created with eight rune staves and was intended to guide the Vikings at sea, but it could also help them make important choices in life. Anyone who wants to remind themselves of the importance of staying on the right path or feels they need help finding their way will be drawn to this piece.
11. Huginn and Muninn
The Viking world was filled with fascinating stories and beliefs, and in Norse mythology, the ravens Huginn and Munnin played an important role. They are closely connected to Odin, and in a way, they represent an all-seeing eye, as they can watch over Midgard for the god and provide him with information. Often shown perched upon Odin’s shoulders, these intelligent birds represent the mighty god’s power and presence. Huginn is connected with memory, and Munnin is associated with thought. You can get inked with both ravens together and possibly with an image of Odin or a Viking warrior. Or you could choose two limbs that are next to each other, for example, the legs of arms. This is a way to show two separate concepts that are still connected.
12. Viking Berserker Tattoo
If you want to make a powerful statement about strength, fury, and fearlessness, then a Viking berserker tattoo is exactly what you need. There were formidable warriors known as berserkers in the Viking age, who were incredibly skilled and fought without fear. They are believed to have gone into battle with an uncontrollable rage. It is thought that they fought in a trance-like state and were intimidating. For someone who wants to show their world that they are not to be messed with or admire the courage these warriors had, this is the design for you.
13. Viking Warrior Tattoo
The Vikings are often remembered as barbarians and plunderers, but they are also celebrated for their fearlessness and skill. A Viking warrior tattoo can honor the strength and bravery of these individuals and send a message to the world that you are fierce and determined. One of the best options for this design is hyper-realistic ink. The detailing is beautiful but also makes your piece more intimidating. You can add Viking runes, symbols, and weapons to make your body art more unique.
14. Axe Tattoo
Of the many weapons that the Vikings used, the axe was the most common. Deciding on an axe tattoo is a great way to symbolize protection, bravery, courage, and power. These axes can have beautiful patterns on them, making them meaningful and interesting to look at. Due to the shape of the axe, it is best to choose a large enough placement to allow for the detail of the design. Arms and legs, because of their shape, are the perfect spot. That said, you can get creative with your design and incorporate other images into it as well. For example, a Viking holding the axe. The combination will change the meaning of your body art slightly.
15. Skull Tattoo
A skull tattoo is a universally recognized symbol of death. This may seem like a morbid option for body art, but it makes a powerful statement about how the wearer either doesn’t fear death or accepts that it is part of the life cycle. Maybe you want to show that you are not afraid or remind yourself that death is inevitable, so you should live life well. To tailor this image to a Viking-inspired design, you may wish to include ravens, symbols, or runes. The result is a striking and meaningful piece.
16. Wolf Tattoo
A wolf tattoo often represents loyalty and the bond between families, but in Norse mythology, there is one very special wolf, Fenrir. The giant canine is the son of the god Loki and is believed to have killed the Allfather, Odin. For this reason, he is sometimes viewed as a villain, but Fenrir also represents courage and strength. He is feared and respected and will make for a fantastic tattoo. Either combine him with your favorite symbol or with an image of Odin to create a truly eye-catching design.
17. Ship Tattoo
The Vikings would not have been so victorious in their raids and conquering of new lands if they did not have the ships to take them there. The longboat was an impressive invention, efficient, fast, light, and well-made. The ship’s prow was carved with an animal head, often a dragon or sometimes a snake, to instill fear in others. These vessels are associated with travel, new beginnings, and adventure and make for an impressive ship tattoo. It can also represent a desire to achieve more in life, success, and the willingness to take a risk. For these reasons, it is not hard to see why someone would be drawn to body art like this.
18. Raven Tattoo
A raven is a dark and mysterious bird, but they are also incredibly intelligent and were important in Norse mythology. Odin is believed to have had the ravens Huginn and Munnin, who watched over Midgard for the god and provided him with information. The birds make for an awesome Viking-inspired tattoo and can be accompanied by various symbols, including the Helm of Awe or the image of a Viking warrior. They can also represent death, war, and pain and can be inked flying over a battlefield. There are so many different ways to incorporate a raven into your body art, but the importance is the symbolism attached to it.
19. Sword Tattoo
The Vikings are celebrated for their skills on the battlefields, and their chosen weapons can be inked as a symbol of their bravery, formidability, and bloodlust. Although the axe was the most commonly used weapon, the sword was also used. The blades were incredibly beautiful, show expert craftsmanship, and represent protection, courage, strength, bravery, and bloodlust. There are many different ways to incorporate a sword into your body art, whether it is a stand-alone piece, inked with the image of a warrior, or has multiple runes added to it to create a unique message. This is a stunning option for your next tattoo.
20. Simple Viking Tattoo
Many Viking symbols are complicated and intricate, and although these have their appeal, they can be time-consuming and costly to get inked. An alternative for those who are more laid back and prefer a minimalistic approach to body art is a simple Viking tattoo. Some designs are created using only a few lines, thus requiring minimal shading or detailing while still retaining their meaning. Simple tattoos are often created by stripping back the designs and using black ink. The great thing about them is their versatility, and you are not limited by size or placement options; pick your favorite body part, whether it is super visible or hidden.
21. Forearm Tattoo
One of the most popular locations for body art is a forearm tattoo. This is for several reasons; the area is not considered high on the pain scale because of the thick skin, muscle, and lack of nerve-endings. It is the ideal area for someone who wants artwork that they can look at every day, but it can still be small and delicate or large and detailed. The versatility makes this location a prime spot for ink, whether you want to cover it up or make a powerful statement. Your forearm is also big enough to allow for more intricate designs and is especially great for long and narrow pieces. For example, an axe or a dagger. Regardless of which Viking-inspired piece you are drawn to, this is a fantastic spot to get it tattooed.
22. Arm Tattoo
Tattoos are a great way to express yourself, show how you feel and what matters to you, and the arm is a fantastic location to do this because of its visibility. An arm tattoo is a good location because of its versatility; you can choose from various designs, from tiny and simple pieces to intricate patterns or sleeve tattoos. It is easy to cover or show off, depending on how you feel, and it is considered low to moderate in terms of pain. The area is large enough that you are not limited to what you can get inked, allowing you to get creative with your choice.
23. Head Tattoo
Head tattoos were popular in Viking times, but you have to be daring to opt for them these days. The visibility of this placement makes it cool, but that is also the downside, as it may limit your options for work because of the stigma attached to body art. It is intimidating and bold. You can’t cover it up, so you may as well flaunt it, and considering the pain involved in the tattooing process, it is not surprising why you would want to. Due to the thin skin, nerve ensigns, and proximity to bone, body art in this location can result in severe pain.
24. Chest Tattoo
If a design is particularly meaningful to you, then the best location to get it inked is on your chest. Chest tattoos are a fantastic way to keep something that is important and keep it close to your heart. It is a reminder that it is forever with you, and there is no better body art to showcase it. The chest is large enough to get ink covering it, or choosing only a small section with something simple. Regardless of the design, you opt for; black ink, bold color, traditional techniques, or something realistic and modern, this is a versatile area. That said, it may cause you some discomfort, especially the closer you get to the bone. So, be aware of this before planning out your artwork, as you may want to avoid the collarbone and sternum.
25. Back Tattoo
You do not need to see your body art every day for it to be meaningful to you, which is why so many people opt for back tattoos. The large, relatively flat area allows you to choose a design that is big or detailed. It is also easy to cover up or show off if you wish and is considered low to moderate on the pain scale. That said, the closer you get to the hips or spine, the more discomfort you will experience. Also, getting inked on your spine can be problematic if you need spinal surgery or injection like an epidural, so be mindful of this before getting a tattoo. The reason is that it can increase the risk of infection.
Did the Vikings really have tattoos?
There is very little evidence to support that the Vikings were covered in tattoos, although it is believed that they were. The findings come from Arabic scholars, who reported that these individuals had been covered in body art. For the Norsemen, tattoos would have played an important role in helping them express themselves, showcasing their personalities and beliefs. It was also a way to provide them with protection and to instill fear in their enemies.
What does a Viking tattoo symbolize?
Viking tattoos can represent power, strength, bloodlust, and mystery, but this largely depends on the chosen design. In general, Vikings are considered to be formidable warriors, both feared and respected, and to get an inking inspired by them would be associated with these qualities.
What is a Viking tattoo called?
There are many different names for Viking tattoos, depending on your chosen design or the symbol you wish to incorporate. Some popular options include images of their weapons, such as the ax or sword, a portrait of their likeness, or their longboats. There are also several symbols that had great importance to these people. These include Helm of Awe, the Valknut, Yggrisall, and Vegvisir, the Viking Compass.
Is it disrespectful to get a Norse Tattoo?
There is always the issue about whether getting a specific design could be considered as cultural misappropriation. Still, for the most part, it is not regarded as disrespectful to get a Norse tattoo. For those of Scandinavian descent, it could be a way to honor their ancestors, and for others, it can be a celebration of the culture, beliefs, and values. Several Viking symbols are incredibly popular to tattoo and have been inked by individuals all over the world.
What do the 3 Viking triangles mean?
The Valknut is a design made up of three interlocking triangles with nine points. It represents the afterlife and can also be worn as a protective symbol to guard against negative energies or those who mean harm.
Do Vikings still exist in 2020?
The Viking age is over, and the individuals who raided and invaded new lands do not exist. That said, many people can trace their ancestry back to the Viking times, and they have chosen to honor them by rediscovering parts of their heritage. For example, there is a village in Norway with individuals living as Vikings and learning their trades. It is open to the public for some months and is designed as a living cultural heritage site where individuals can learn about the Vikings.
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