Usually, we just look into the design to see what a tattoo means. We seldom think about how its placement changes its meaning or if it ever does. For hand tattoos, the placement definitely makes a difference. It’s a clear way of expressing yourself boldly. It means the wearer is standing up for something he or she really believes in. That could be himself, his story, or a cause.
In general, people with hand tattoos are thought to be bold and courageous. The hands get more exposure than any other place in our body, aside from our head. For some, it’s the ultimate sign of rebellion – of standing out from the crowd.
Of course, the weight of your “rebellion” all depends on the design you have picked out. Others see hand tattoos as a simple way of reminding themselves of who they are and what their story is. Regardless of how it means to you, here is a list of bold, powerful, and simply stunning hand tattoo designs.
History of Hand Tattoos
Our hands were our main tool as we evolved from cavemen to modern people in suits and dresses. We use it every day, from our homes to our works.
Being one of the most prominent areas of our body, it’s simply hard to ignore your hands. That being said, it is highly possible that the earlier tattoos were placed on our hands. It’s safe to say that hand tattoos have existed since 12,000 B.C. when tattooing is said to have been born.
Different cultures have different understanding of what a tattoo does. For some, it’s identification while for others, it is for power and magic. Since our hands are our best tools, some might have believed that hand tattoos carry out these energies. It’s a way to release conjured spirits of nature or of gods.
However, one of the most popular history regarding hand tattoos are the henna tattoos from India. While these are temporary, a bride’s family and friends would celebrate her and her upcoming wedding. They would party and dance, but most of all, they would create intricate designs on the bride’s hands and feet. This is a big part of their tradition and is still being carried out to this day.
Because of its popularity, these sweet and intricate hand designs have inspired many tattoo enthusiasts. They often use the similar patterns for their designs.
Meaning of Hand Tattoos
As mentioned, the design of the tattoos often give the meaning to the tattoo. However, placing it on your hand gives another meaning to your tattoo.
Since the hand has more exposure, those who have hand tattoos are known to be courageous and brave. To be able to get a tattoo with how society feels about body art is something. While many are now more open to getting inked or tattoos at the very least, many still see it negatively.
Hand tattoos also signify the wearer’s high level of commitment. Many others get tattoos where they can easily hide it. They want the commitment of having a tattoo, but are still not as open to showing it as others. That is why couples tend to get ring tattoos that is pretty much like getting wedding rings but you can’t take them off.
Religious people also see the hands as a perfect place for their tattoos. They connect with Jesus’ death at the cross where he sacrificed himself for mankind.
Types of Hand Tattoos
There are so many hand tattoo designs out there but they can be classified with the style they are done. Traditional tattoos are most common. But nowadays, minimalist and 3D styles are also getting trendy. The placement can also help categorize these kinds of tats.
Traditional tattoos have rather evolved as years went by. There are still the American traditional tattoos that are bolder and more vivid. These days, these kinds of tattoos have taken different looks. Some still have the same elements. Others were softer and more subtle. Most are simply made from black ink but with better details.
This type of tattoo is the one that you see most of the time. Designs can vary from flowers, to eagles, to religious images.
Minimalist designs are for those who aren’t really into fancy and complicated designs. They are also for those who love simple symbolic designs. These types of tattoos can also be done for almost any design you can think of. Animal tattoos, in particular, can be simplified for a more minimalist look. These designs are often smaller. They are perfect as finger tattoos.
3D tattoos are one of the toughest types to do. Your tattoo artist has to be extremely good and should have mastered various skills and techniques in tattooing. They have to make a photo-realistic tattoo or something that looks so real that it appears as if it’s the real object.
Some designs also include illusions. These are for those who love to play mind tricks and probably freak some people out. Still, these designs are stunning and are worth the pain and effort.
Ring tattoos are mostly done by couples. They get a tattoo of their wedding rings as a sign of commitment to their spouses. Unlike wedding bands, these tattoos are here to stay.
But not all ring tattoos are for married people. Some also create designs that are meant to be personal. It could show their passion for something or that they promise to take care of themselves. Some ring tattoos, however, are purely made for aesthetics and as a permanent accessory.
Popular Hand Tattoo Designs
If you have chosen which style of tattoo you want for your hands, then it’s time to pick which design you should pick. Here are some of the most common and meaningful tattoos that can help you express yourself.
As one of the most common tattoo design of all time, flowers are popular as hand designs. In the hands, they are perfect for both men and women. Most of the time, these elements are also accompanied by other imagery. Having an additional subject tends to create a deeper and more specific meaning close to the wearer’s personality.
Flowers have different meanings depending on which was depicted. Nonetheless, the rose is one of the most popular, even for men. They often turn it into a 3D tattoo, making it look ethereal and beautiful. As a tattoo, the rose means love and passion. However, this type of flower also has other color-specific meanings.
Flags as hand tattoos just show how patriotic a person is. Their flag is the identity of their nation – a symbol of all its people. You can have your flag tattooed on your arm and maybe add a few more design, as what others do. For example, Americans tend to include an eagle on their design. It’s USA’s national bird and signifies strength and brevity.
Others are more creative with their flag designs. Instead of doing the entire flag, others get inspiration from the colors and elements they see.
Symbols are rather simple. But they have deeper meanings. Here are some of the most common symbols you can use for your tattoo design:
- Infinity – This means eternity, perfection, and balance.
- Cross – The symbol of God and Christianity.
- Heart – A simple heart means love and passion.
- Arrow – One arrow pointing up represents moving forward.
- Ankh – Egyptian cross that means eternal life and rebirth
- Peace sign – As name suggests, it denotes peace and anti-war movement.
- Stars – These are associated with magic, importance, and inspiration.
- Semicolon – Used for depression, anxiety, and suicide awareness
- Fleur-de-lis – This beautiful symbol is associated with unity, loyalty, and faithfulness.
- Lightning – This could either mean fear or good luck.
- Yin and yang – This means unity and harmony between opposites.
Tribal designs are also popular. However, they are meant for aesthetics these days compared to those back then.
Usually, these designs extend to the forearm. The designs are also different from men to women. Men’s are usually thicker and bolder while designs made for women are usually more subtle and feminine.
Animal designs are one of the mainstream tattoo elements. You can have a tattoo of any animal you want but the top choices are our favorite pets – cats and dogs – and top of the chain wild animals like wolves, tigers, lions. There’s also magical creatures like the deer and the gentle giant, elephant.
Each of these animals represent something different and it is often based on their characteristics. Here are what these aforementioned animals mean as tattoos:
- Cats – Cats are known to represent femininity, mysticism, and power.
- Dogs – These adorable pets are best known as symbols of loyalty, guardianship and your plain love for canines.
- Wolves – Wolves are either seen as good or bad. But usually, they are symbols of power. For Native Americans, they are seen as totem animal.
- Tigers – Tigers represent power and strength. They can also signify independence or being a free spirited person.
- Lions – The King of the Jungle is the best design to denote pride, courage, strength, and royalty.
- Deer – A doe or a female deer represent motherhood, kindness and gentleness. On the other hand, a stag is best known for fertility, virility, and sexual prowess.
- Elephants – Elephants embody dignity, longevity, gentleness, power, strength, and dignity. They are also seen as animals of prosperity and good luck.
One of the best types of tattoos are abstract designs. These usually include more than just one element and are done in a surrealistic fashion. They can be bizarre or cool – but abstract tattoos have one thing in common and that’s the mystery they bring with them.
Most abstract hand tattoos these days are done in a more modern style. There are crisper and cleaner lines used, sparse color palettes, and lots of geometric patterns.
The meaning behind these designs are usually hard to decipher. It depends on the wearer how they perceive it. Nonetheless, some of these designs are merely for aesthetics only.
As previously mentioned, henna tattoos are traditional in Indian and several countries in Asia. It has long been a part of their culture.
These are temporary tattoos and could last up to 2 weeks. You can do a lot of designs using this. In fact, you can try out a design in henna first, just to see how it would look on you. However, techniques are nearly impossible to do so your designs will likely be simpler or easier to do.
In India, the family of a bride would spend the night before the wedding and fill her hands and feet with henna tattoos. The patterns they use are very feminine with flowers as the main elements. They also use swirls, dots, and patterns to decorate the bride’s hand.
The art of henna tattoo and the design that are usually done for the brides have become global. Now, even little girls could enjoy putting henna and have “tattoos.”
Aftercare Tip for Hand Tattoos
Since our hands are one of the busiest part of the body, it’s practically easy to ruin a tattoo. During the healing process, you will likely have to lessen your daily chores and keep away from a few things.
One of the most important tips is to stay away from anything dirty. Remember, your tattoo is made up of little wounds where the tattoo needles punctured the skin. It will take a few days or even weeks for it to heal and when it’s still raw, they could easily get infected. You can get these infections from touching dirty things. You won’t be able to use hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol for a little while so just maintain your hand’s cleanliness.
When it comes to hand washing, use alcohol-free and mild soap. You’d also want to avoid soaking your hands on water for at least 3 weeks. Air drying it is more effective.
Lastly, use sunscreen when it heals. The sun could make your tattoo fade quickly.