Some of the simplest objects carry the richest symbolism, and the shovel is a prime example.
More than a mere tool for digging, the shovel has taken on multiple meanings throughout the centuries, and makes for an equally–and charmingly–obscure tattoo reference.
Our Neolithic ancestors fashioned the first rudimentary shovel, and since then the tool has become an indispensable component of man’s existence, however casual. Digging graves or digging flowerbeds, the shovel certainly lends new meaning to the phrase “made for all occasions.”
There are many reasons to adopt a shovel tattoo as part of your personal ink gallery, and with so many meanings to choose from you’ll no doubt stand apart in your backstory. Archaeological excavations, and the spirit of digging deeper for knowledge and wonder, is one aspect of the shovel’s imagery, while a more macabre side hints at one’s own mortality, that we all end up six feet under and to make the most of our time above ground before going below. The shovel is also a sign of backbreaking labor, of getting one’s hands dirty in the spirit of so many men prior.
A shovel tattoo is simple and poignant, and anything but pretentious. Like the men who wield the tool itself, the shovel tattoo wearer is a man who values hard work and what he dedicates his time to. He has little use for frivolous objects that serve no higher–or deeper–purpose, and is only too willing to apply his own for the good of others.