Shiva: Supreme Being, destroyer, and transformer. Whether he is depicted as benevolent or fearsome, the reflection of Shiva in the form of tattoo art remains an alluring and influential trend.
Lord Shiva is considered to be one of the most unique Hindu deities as he represents both good and bad.
More often than not, Shiva is shown with three faces to demonstrate how he is the creator, destroyer, and preserver of all in the universe. It is why a tattoo symbolizing this remarkable deity is so sought after even by those who may not follow Hinduism.
A true ink artisan can bring Shiva to life on your body. He can be seen in portrait form with his traditional third eye opened and his famed weapon, the Trisula, ready to bring down havoc and destruction on the evils in your life. Nothing will be able to hold you back.
Not looking for something large? Small works just as well. Many opt for the more abstract approach to paying respect and embodying the spirit of Shiva. Om Namah Shivaya is a popular script to get, and one that works anywhere on your body. It will show off the peaceful side of you where you have already conquered your demons.
Simple yet dynamic is good also. Use items that represent his power. The Trisula, his third eye, the snake, or even the white bull he rides all work. Combine some or all of them to tell the story of the divine, formidable being.
1. Shiva Tattoos with Sanskrit Text
As one of the most important gods in Hinduism – the most important in Shaivism – Lord Shiva has many chants dedicated to him and his powers. The most common of these is Om Namah Shivaya. There are several translations, with one being “I bow to Lord Shiva.”
Sharp lettering, blackwork and crisp lines are most often used to achieve this Sanskrit lettering. Many opt for a simple Om symbol. Om (or aum)is a sacred sound, representing unification and the sound of the universe itself
2. Blackwork Shiva Tattoos
While traditional Indian art is virtually exploding with color, blackwork is a powerful choice for your Shiva tattoo. Linework, dotwork, photo-realism, geometric and other styles within the blackwork universe can all be utilized to create a gorgeous and one-of-a-kind tattoo. The Shiva tattoo meaning you want to convey can be a deciding factor in your choice of blackwork. Photo-realism is a popular choice, but a smaller and slightly abstract Shiva represented in black watercolor can be just as powerful.
3. Color Shiva Tattoos
Blackwork is a popular choice, but if you want your Shiva tattoo to be as traditional as possible, think colorful. Ancient Indian texts and artistry are absolutely bursting with color, making bright, vivid Shiva tattoos a great option. The colors can be customized to make your Shiva tattoo as personal as possible. You can also give tradition a modern twist by incorporating watercolor, neo-traditional or another newer style of tattooing.
4. Feminine Lord Shiva Tattoos
Some Shiva tattoos showcase the god looking very much like…well, a goddess. This is sometimes surprising, but very common to those familiar with the Hindu faith. Shiva and his consort or wife, Parvati, are often depicted as one body – one half male, the other female. In other depictions, the god is shown as one person but with features that – at least to western eyes – appear quite female.
These depictions are extremely faithful to the original Hindu texts, in which the different between male and female was not always obvious. Shiva tattoos featuring “pretty” or “beautiful” facial features, therefore, are quite faithful to Indian artwork and Hinduism, and may or may not represent Shiva and Parvati as one. Remember that gender does not affect attitude – a peaceful or angry Lord Shiva tattoo can have masculine or feminine features.
5. Shiva Tattoos with Ganga
The story of Shiva and Ganga is long and involved, but the key component is this – Shiva trapped Goddess Ganga in his hair, controlled her rage and released her slowly in streams. This is why so many images of Shiva depict Ganga on his head, still tightly secured in his hair.
Find a tattooist skilled enough to make Ganga look like herself, instead of a bundled lump. Those skilled in fine detail and even portraiture will be able to work enough detail into the relatively small figure of Ganga.
6. Shiva Tattoos with Trishula Spear
Shiva is often depicted with his signature spear; a trident called the Trishula. This spear is hugely significant and represents Shiva’s mastery over the three states of waking, sleeping and dreaming, as well as the past, present and future. Legend tells us that Shiva used his trishula to accidentally sever the head of his wife Parvati’s son, Ganesh – he later replaced it with the head of an elephant.
The trishula represents a great deal of power, and trishula tattoos are bold statements about the power you aspire to have or have already gained. For a Shiva tattoo small enough to fit on a smaller body part, a single trishula is a subtle option.
Shiva Tattoo FAQ’s
What Does a Shiva Tattoo Mean?
Shiva tattoos can mean different things to different people. Saivites are members of a branch of Hinduism which regards Shiva as their main deity, instead of part of a deity triad – along with Brahma and Vishnu – in more traditional Hinduism. Within this triad, Shiva is often called the Destroyer – meaning he destroys the negative aspects within us, allowing positive change to occur. This destruction of leads to him being depicted as angry or full of rage. He’s also believed to have created himself out of nothingness.
Due to the many natures of this god, it’s no surprise that Shiva tattoos have a wide variety of meanings. Perhaps you want to remake yourself by casting out negativity. You may be full of righteous rage, or simply want to pay homage. As long as there’s genuine belief and respect behind it, a Shiva tattoo’s meaning is highly individualized. A Shiva tattoo on the chest can mean your heart lies with this particular god, while one on your back may mean that you feel guided by Shiva.
Enjoy these Shiva tattoos but looking for more ink inspiration? Click on the links below for more Eastern influenced galleries:
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