The journey through Middle-Earth was fraught with challenges and great battles for a pair of Hobbits. They met great friends in elves, dwarves, humans and even a wizard. While the battle raged on the big movie screen left everyone is awe, the actors behind the characters got matching tattoos.
A Lord of the Rings tattoo symbolizes more than just fanboy adoration, it’s often done as a symbol of a deep rooted friendship.
While some opt for ink of their favorite character, others choose to get symbols dedicated to friends.
The dedicated friendship Samwise and Frodo shared can be mirrored in ink from the J.R.R. Tolkien universe. Best friends will often get matching tattoos to symbolize a deep brotherhood. Quotes from the book and movie series are frequent tattoo work of Tolkien fans. Some men even go so far as to have the quotes written in elvish.
Another common subject of Tolkien lore is the tree of Gondor. The simplicity of the design, coupled with the importance of the tree, make it popular skin art.
The scope of both the Lord Of The Rings and the Hobbit trilogies is so wide and varied, it leaves room for fans to get some Tolkien ink and still be unique.
For someone looking for character designs, a large patch of space should be reserved to ensure a better quality tattoo.
1. One Ring Tattoos
J.R.R. Tolkien created an entire universe and unveiled it to the world in 1954. Within this fantastic realm there were Men, Elves, Dwarfs and Goblins. Wizards and Trolls, Witches and Dragons, but holding power over all of the races of Middle Earth was a magic ring. Forged by the evil Sauron, it can make the wearer invisible but inevitably corrupts anyone who holds it, until it finally makes its way back to its profane master.
The “One ring to rule them all” is at the heart of this tale and it makes sense that fans of the series would choose this element to get tattooed. This ring makes for the perfect tattoo thanks to depth of detail that can be captured in the mirrored surface of this malevolent charm.
2. The Eye of Sauron Tattoos
After he was defeated by the armies of Men and Elves he was vanquished, spending a thousand years as a shapeless evil, dormant but not dead. As the One Ring was not destroyed, neither was Sauron. He eventually returned as a disembodied eye, an all seeing eye, endlessly burning near Mount Doom constantly searching for the Ring.
The Eye of Sauron makes for excellent tattoos thanks to the different textures and tones used to create this ultimate villain. For those with a darker sensibility, tattooing the Eye of Sauron also provides to the opportunity incorporate some of the other villains and landscapes from the series.
3. Frodo and the Fellowship Tattoos
At the heart of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is a battle between good and evil, dark and light; and in this world, the forces of good come in the form of a mild mannered Hobbit from Bag End. Frodo, the unsuspecting protagonist in our story—along with three other Hobbits, two Men, one Dwarf, an Elf and a Wizard—gets roped into an adventure that confronts the essence of evil. Together, this Fellowship of Nine, embark on a quest across Middle-Earth to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mordor.
The Fellowship make for excellent tattoo subjects thanks to the deep connections that many fans have with the different characters and the actors that portrayed them.
4. The Witch King of Angmar Tattoos
In Tolkien’s universe the Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, were the leaders of dark armies, and the Witch King Angmar was their leader and second in command to Sauron. These ghouls were once mortal men. Corrupted by Sauron, each was given one of the Nine Rings of Power to serve him; they are drawn to the One Ring by a deep magic.
These wicked creatures make for excellent tattoos thanks to their striking visages: they wear black helmets with distinctive crowns, black armor and capes, while heir different steeds—horses and foul, winged creatures—can be incorporated into larger tattoos.
5. Scenes from the Lord of the Rings Tattoos
For any true fan of the series, there is a wealth of material from which to draw inspiration for tattoos. From the ancient tree-folk known as the Ents, to the epic scenes of cave trolls, castles and siege weapons from the Battle of Helm’s Deep; there is enough material to complete dozens of full body tattoos.
The scenes in this epic series also make for excellent tattoos—especially large, detailed pieces—thanks to the powerful interplay between light and dark that is created in these stories. A clever artist can create contrast by incorporating scenes and characters from both sides of the story, creating visually pleasing and detail-dense tattoos that display the epic struggle between good and evil.
6. Gollum Tattoos
One of the most intriguing characters in the entire series, Gollum is flawed, but complicated. Once a friendly, Hobbit-like creature, Gollum had the unfortunate luck of stumbling upon the One Ring. As he holds the Ring, all his life falls away, until he is an unrecognizable shell of his former self, living only to covet the One Ring: “My Precious”. Until one day he drops the Ring, and it finds a new owner by the name of Frodo.
Gollum is a great subject for tattoos for a couple reasons. First off, his ghoulish appearance provides an opportunity to capture all the small details and imperfections in his face and body. Gollum is also interesting as a character, definitely a villain, but a relatable one. He elicits equal parts scorn and pity, making him one of the more complex characters in the series.
7. Balrog Tattoos
Balrogs were ancient creatures of fire and shadow that existed long before the Age of Men, dwelling deep in the darkest places in Middle-Earth. It was battling one of these foul creatures in the Mines of Moria that the wizard Gandalf the Gray was cast into the depths, only to return later, reborn from a crucible of fire as Gandalf the White. This was one the most powerful scenes, visually encapsulating the battle between good and evil that is at the core of these stories.
Balrogs make for great tattoos because of the opportunity to create stark contrast that is provided by the red, orange and yellow tones of the fire and the deep black the shroud these beasts.
8. Lord of the Rings Blades
There are a number of different swords in these stories, many of which hold specific powers, many even have names. Frodo’s sword, named Sting, was given to him by his uncle Bilbo and glows blue when Orcs are near. Aragorn, heir of Issildur, was the one to re-forge the shattered blade of Anduril that was broken by Sauron a thousand years before.
These swords make for great tattoos, not just because of the inherently interesting shapes and contours of these stylized blades, but also for the deep significance they hold in the stories.
9. Gandalf Tattoos
Out the hundreds of characters that J.R.R. Tolkien brought to life in his beloved stories, there may not be one as popular and influential as Gandalf. The last of the Wizards to venture into Middle-Earth, Gandalf was a relic of past epochs when different forces ruled the world. He first appears as Gandalf the Gray, sometimes deceptively acting befuddled or sleepy After he battles a Balrog, sacrificing himself to save the Fellowship of the Ring, he returns as Gandalf the White.
Thanks to the unmistakable countenance of Sir Ian McKellen (who portrayed Gandalf in the films) as well as his distinctive pointy Wizard’s hat, Gandalf makes an excellent subject for tattoos.
10. The Hobbit and J.R.R Tolkien Inspired Ink
Originally written as a companion text aimed at a younger audience, The Hobbit earned its place in the Tolkien mythos. With interesting characters like the thirteen Dwarves that rope Bilbo into an unexpected journey, and the vile countenance of the Dragon Smaug, sat on a mountain of gold, there is a large pool of text and imagery to draw from. Some people choose to skip the dramatic characters and exciting scenes and show their love and dedication to the series by tattooing J.R.R. Tolkien himself on their body.
If you enjoyed these Lord of the Rings tattoos click on the links below for more galleries dedicated to elements of literary ink inspirations.