Any gentleman who is interested in traditional tattoos has seen a dagger at some point, and these weapons are one of the oldest tattoo designs. This type of artwork generally depicts a dagger that has a gleaming silver blade and a beautifully ornate handle.
Dagger tattoos are often split in the middle to depict stabbing, and a dagger typically appears to be stabbed through the head of a creature, a flower, a heart, or even the subject’s skin.
The many combinations make a dagger tattoo extremely versatile.
Of course daggers are often used to symbolize fighting, danger, and ferocity because the real thing is used in close hand to hand combat. However, when the dagger is combined with other symbols, its meaning can often vary. A dagger stabbed through an animal head is generally a symbol of overcoming a challenge.
When paired with a heart or a flower, daggers often symbolize a lost love or a romantic betrayal. It is also traditionally paired with a swallow tattoo to show good luck, and in China daggers are paired with a cherry to show immortality. A plain dagger that is done without any other accompanying symbols can show sacrifice, bravery, and loyalty.
1. Rose and Dagger Tattoos
One of the more popular American traditional tattoo designs, people around the world have been tattooing daggers piercing roses on their bodies for decades, and for good reason. The striking appearance and powerful meaning behind this classic design makes it the perfect addition to any collection of ink.
The variety of details—notice the decorative flourishes on many of the daggers—and the opportunity that these designs provide for creating unique personal touches ensure that no two pieces are exactly the same. This collection shows just how exciting these American traditional designs can be.
2. Black Bold Traditional Dagger Tattoos
The American traditional school of tattooing is known for its bold lines, and these dagger tattoos don’t disappoint. While many people prefer the vibrant and densely packed color that also characterizes the style, these excellent pieces show that bright color isn’t the only thing that makes these bad ass designs pop. The American traditional school also provides the opportunity to add details like script and decorative embellishments to create unique pieces and these tattoos are great examples of the style.
3. Skull and Dagger Tattoos
Many people choose to incorporate another bad ass element into their dagger designs: skulls. Long a favorite in the American traditional school, skulls are powerful symbols of our mortality and limited time on earth, and they are perfect additions to these designs. The significance that is created by piercing a skull with a dagger is also interesting: some might suggest that this represents the way the wearer embraces mortality by living everyday as if it was their last.
4. Heart and Dagger Tattoos
A dagger piercing a heart is one of the most popular flash designs from the American traditional style and, as these tattoos demonstrate, it still stands up to the test of time. Many people choose this design for the way it perfectly symbolizes broken hearts and lost love. The contrast that is created by combining these two disparate elements is also interesting and adds intellectual depth to these tough tattoos.
5. Serpent and Dagger Tattoos
Snakes have been common elements in tattoos for decades and incorporating them into dagger tattoos is a no brainer. Snakes are powerful symbols of fertility and creative forces, while daggers represent destruction and violence and bringing these two elements together in one tattoo can create a powerful metaphorical significance. Plus they look cool. These excellent tattoos demonstrate just how appealing snakes look alongside daggers.
6. Black and Gray Dagger Tattoos
One of the best things about tattoos is the opportunity for self-expression and individuation that they provide. Some people use vibrant colors to full express themselves; however, for other people nothing quite encapsulates their tastes and sensibilities like the subtle appeal of black and gray work. Often known for vibrant colors, these pieces perfectly demonstrate how jaw dropping American traditional daggers can be when applied in black and gray.
7. Dagger Through Animal Heads Tattoos
What’s more bad ass than a fierce animal, boldly tattooed on the chest? A fierce animal with a dagger through its head. From panthers to wolves, snakes to gorillas, the dramatic effect that is created with these gruesome designs is undeniable. Whether in color or black and gray, these fierce and unique designs are sure to turn heads wherever they go, for years to come.
8. Colorful Traditional Dagger Tattoos
American traditional tattoos are known for their densely packed colors, and these designs demonstrate just how effective these vibrant colors can be when applied to daggers. Utilizing a variety of different blades—from scimitars to stilettos—these tattoos are great examples of this classic tattoo style and what is possible with a clean application of bright color ink.
9. Large Incorporated Traditional Dagger Tattoos
While some people choose to get tattoos as standalone pieces many others choose a broader composition that allows for the incorporation of a variety of different designs and elements. Thankfully for these folks, American traditional is ripe for the picking when it comes to bad ass flash.
From roses and skulls, to pinup girls and spider webs, these tattoos are great examples of how a balanced and well planned composition can take several different designs and incorporate them into one, large unique tattoo.
Traditional Dagger Tattoo FAQs
What does the rose and dagger tattoo mean?
A common tattoo in the American traditional style, people have been inking daggers piercing roses on their bodies for decades. Many people choose this tattoo for the powerful meaning that it represents. While this design is often associated with lost love and broken hearts, a dagger piercing can have a more profound meaning than failed romances.
These contrasting images can be used to demonstrate opposing forces and the duality of life. The rose represents love, beauty and hope, while the dagger is a symbol for death, destruction and betrayal. Every coin has two sides, and a rose pierced by a dagger is a great visual representation of the conflicted nature of life.
What does the dagger through an animal head symbolize?
Another common design in American traditional work depicts a dagger piercing the skull of a variety of different animals, from panthers and gorillas to spiders. The most obvious reason for getting one of these eye catching designs is that they look damn cool. There are few things tougher than a panther tattoo, but one of them is a panther getting stabbed by a dagger.
However, a deeper meaning can be attributed to these bad ass tattoos. Many people associate these pieces with overcoming obstacles: the animal represents some challenge or a difficult period in life, and the dagger symbolizes defeating it and moving forward.
Whatever the significance behind them, these classic tattoos continue to maintain their appeal decades down the line.
What does the dagger and serpent tattoo represent?
One more popular concept in American traditional tattooing uses snakes and daggers to create interesting designs. Thanks to serpents’ deep and varied meaning they are the perfect addition to these tough tattoos.
Snakes have long been associated with fertility and creation thanks to the way the shed their skin and emerge vibrant and new. In conjunction with a dagger this piece could also represent the contrasting nature of life.
Other interpretations view the snake and the dagger as representing an inner conflict that is constantly being battled, while the symbolism of a serpent and blade is also associated with the Ancient Greek tradition and is known as the Rod of Asclepius which is associated with medicine and healing.
Whatever the meaning behind these striking designs, snakes and daggers are two elements that are perfectly suited to each other.
Did you enjoy these traditional dagger tattoos but are looking for more old school inspiration? Click on the links below for more bad ass American Traditional ink Galleries: