The Trinity Knot, also called the Triquetra, is one of the most popular Celtic designs for tattoos. There are multiple different meanings behind the shape, and it has a rich history with a murky origin story.
Many people still argue over who created the Trinity Knot, as some believe it was created by Christian monks spreading their religion through the Celtic region.
Others believe the Celts already used the image and that the monks merely appropriated it so as to ease the transition to the new religion for the Celts.
The meaning of the Trinity Knot is different depending on who you ask. Christians see it as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Pagan interpretations called the three points of the knotted triangle Earth, Air, and Water, after the natural elemental forces. Other pagan adaptations refer to the symbol as one of life, death, and rebirth. The symbol has been reimagined many times, and now it can be thought to represent any set of three separate ideas that are somehow connected to one another.
There are occasions when the original symbol is drawn with a circle added to the knot. The circle is thought to represent the infinite nature of God’s love, as well as the eternal cycle of life and death. It is not technically part of the original design, but it adds credence to the original idea.
1. Negative Space Triquetra Tattoos
Negative space tattoos are a creative, artistic twist on traditional pieces. It’s a simple way to make your triquetra tattoo stand out. A negative space tattoo creates the design by shading around the artwork. It creates the piece with your unblemished skin. This style allows for an added layer as the eye has a little bit more to take in at first. The triquetra is such a simple design. It’s nice to do something a little different in order to have a piece that stands out.
2. Script and Triquetra Tattoos
My favorite part about script is that it can complement any tattoo without stealing the show. A triquetra tattoo can stand on its own or be a beautiful centerpiece. It can work with names, as a memorial or with a quote. A nice authentic touch is using Ogham, the Irish language alphabet. If you want to show your Irish pride while making a statement or honoring a loved one a script triquetra tattoo is a great choice.
3. Color Triquetra Tattoos
There is no shortage of Irish themed tattoos out there. And when I say Irish I of course mean that holiest of holies, St Patrick’s Day. From Shamrocks to leprechauns to “kiss me I’m Irish” it’s all been done. But if you’re looking for an Irish themed tattoo with slightly more gravitas you can’t go past adding a splash of Irish color to your triquetra tattoo.
The traditional tricolor green, white and orange can be tastefully applied. A splash of Irish green will subtly enhance the piece. Or you can go all in and get the whole triquetra in color. This is quite rare and will make your piece stand out from the crowd.
4. Animal Triquetra Tattoos
Any animal can take on a spiritual significance. It’s no surprise to find personal favorites forming part of tattoos all over the globe. Serpents and dragons in particular abound in Irish mythology. Due to their long and slender form they are easily melded into a triquetra.
A serpent forming the circle is a popular affectation but if you really want to triple down on the symbolism you can’t go past throwing the ouroboros in there. The traditional ouroboros is the serpent in a figure eight eating its own tail. This represents both infinity and the cycle of birth and death.
Tying in the serpent or dragon with the ouroboros and triquetra is an absolute symbolic feast and the way to go if you want those layers of meaning.
5. Dotwork Triquetra Tattoos
Dotwork is exactly what it sounds: tattoos composed entirely of dots. Despite being thousands of years old it has only recently regained popularity. Dotwork is an intricate and beautiful technique. Because of the skill and time involved dotwork is most popular for symbols and small pieces.
Dotwork creates an impression that no other method can. Your tattoo will be visually striking and immediately look different. It can be used to create a more baked in appearance like the tattoo is on top of you and a part of you at the same time.
6. Geometric Triquetra Tattoos
Geometric tattoos are sky rocketing in popularity. They speak a language without words and communicate so much with so little. The triquetra can be made to appear more geometric or it can be combined into a larger geometric piece. Think repeating triquetras forming a pattern or even a larger triquetra itself. The triquetra can also form part of a geometric scene of shapes. Geometric triquetra tattoos have a striking visual appeal.
7. Simple Triquetra Tattoos
As Shakespeare said if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Ok maybe it wasn’t the bard himself but nevertheless. The original triquetra has been around for at least 2500 years. Mathematically, it’s the simplest possible form of knot. It’s eternal, it’s universal, it’s original. And it’s not going to hurt to go with a simple classic.
A simple triquetra tattoo can be the original format of overlapping triangles or its common circle variant. It can also be simple in method. The symbol can be beautifully and simply represented with black fine line. Either just outlines or black and grey with some shading. Either way you can’t go wrong with a simple classic.
8. Innovative Triquetra Tattoos
Triquetra with a heart? How about adding paint brush strokes? A repeating geometric pattern in a sleeve? Matching it into tribal designs? All this and more is possible. The ancient triquetra is just such a good piece to build around. Trailblaze your own fusion. I can see it now: American Traditional style bold outlines, a triquetra in the middle with a dagger through it and a banner that reads “Good craic”. Can’t beat that!
Triquetra Tattoo FAQs
What does the triquetra mean?
Originating in Ireland, the triquetra or trinity knot is inextricably linked with the power of the three. For Christians it symbolizes the holy trinity: the father, the son and the holy ghost. However the triquetra itself is at least 500 years older than Christianity.
During pagan times the triquetra symbolized the triple goddess: mother, maiden, crone. In other periods it represented air, water, earth. No matter which way you spin it, this ancient Irish symbol is a powerful religious and spiritual totem known to provide protection to those who bear it.
Enjoy these triquetra tattoos but looking for more inspiration. Click on the links below for more Celtic influenced ink galleries:
- Top 101 Celtic Knot Tattoo Ideas
- Top 63 Irish Tattoo Ideas
- Top 37 Celtic Tattoos
- Top 93 Celtic Cross Tattoo Ideas