Tatouage viking

Viking Tattoos: Symbols and Meanings

When we talk about "Viking", we often think of " tattoo ". If it is difficult to prove that these Nordic warriors did indeed have drawings on their skin , some testimonies confirm it all the same.

Each of the symbols that the Vikings represented, both on their skin, on their jewelry or on their longship are rich in meaning. Today, it is therefore not aberrant to want to get a Viking or Nordic symbol tattooed , either to mark your personality or to convey a message .

History and origin of Viking tattoos

Even today, it is difficult to prove that the Vikings really had tattoos on their skin. Quite simply because the latter is not well enough preserved over time and, when the Viking bodies are discovered by archaeologists, they are completely decomposed.

Nevertheless, some writings and some tales coming from men of Arab countries – among others – assure that the Nordic warriors were well tattooed . Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, an Arab scholar, is one of those who had the opportunity to meet the Scandinavian warriors during his travels. He writes “I have never seen bodies as perfect as theirs” and then asserts that these men were tattooed from their fingertips to their necks .

Vegvisir Viking Jewelry

Tattoos he describes as dark green in color . But which should rather be dark blue in color , due to the wood ash which was used for the realization of the tattoos.

Viking tattoos by theme

Top 15 Viking Tattoos and Their Meanings

In his returns, Ahmad Ibn Fadlan shares tattoos representing figures of trees, animals or even knots . Viking tattoos are numerous and each of them has one or more meanings.

Viking symbols

The Aegishjalmur, or the Helmet of Awe

Aegishjalmur Tattoo

When going on a raid, the Viking warriors carried with them, in one way or another, the Aegishjalmur which was supposed to protect them during the fights. Also known as the Helmet of Awe or the Helm of Terror , this symbol is made up of eight spikes meeting at a central point. It is synonymous with both physical and spiritual protection.

The Valknut

Valknut Tattoo

This symbol is made up of three intertwined triangles . Related to the god Odin , the Valknut was there to welcome the Vikings who died in battle and arrived in Valhalla. Today, getting a Valknut tattoo is rather a symbol of helping to overcome the difficulties, the trials of life .

The Vegvisir, or the runic compass

Vegvisir Tattoo

The Vegsivir is made up of eight Viking rune staves. The Vikings represented it with the aim of being guided and protected during sea voyages . With this compass, the Vikings were convinced: it was impossible for them to get lost , no matter the bad weather and storms. Even today, the runic compass accompanies the wearer and helps him find his way despite the obstacles to overcome.

Runes, or the Viking alphabet

Futhark rune tattoo

The runes were the Viking alphabet. An alphabet that was not necessarily intended to communicate, but more to appeal to the gods . There are 24 signs in the runic alphabet, also called Furhark . Each of these signs has its own meaning but all serve one and the same thing: to direct your life . Among the different meanings we find: fertility , communication , joy or even protection .

The Triskelion

Triskel Tattoo

Generally known as a Breton symbol, the triskel is also a Celtic and Viking symbol . Its three branches , in Norse mythology, symbolize three gods: Thor , Odin and Freyr . But they can symbolize many other things like the three elements , progress , competition and perseverance .

The Helm of Awe

Helm of Awe Tattoo

Like the Vegsivir, the Helm of Awe has eight branches connected at a central point. Legend has it that Viking warriors painted it on their foreheads in order to instill fear in enemies . The helmet of Awe is therefore a symbol of strength, of invincibility .

The viking ax

Viking Ax Tattoo

The Vikings used it on a daily basis as well as in war: the axe. Represented on the skin, the ax is a symbol of strength .

The Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross Tattoo

Also called Odin's Cross , the Celtic cross is a symbol of resurrection among the Vikings. It is composed of four fairly wide branches, and in it is a ring.

Norse gods and symbols

Yggdrasil, or the world tree

Yggdrasil Tattoo

Yggdrasil is the tree of life in Norse mythology. According to legend, Yggdrasil controlled the nine worlds . It is a symbol of power and great knowledge .

Gungnir, the spear of Odin

Spear Gungnir Tattoo

Odin's famous magic spear , Gungnir , never misses its target. On its blade, the runes are engraved there. For the Vikings, the representation of Gungnir symbolized the protection of Odin in battle.

Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor

Mjolnir Tattoo

Mjölnir is a magic hammer belonging to the god Thor . With him, the god of thunder fights against absolutely all evil forces. As others can do since on the side of the hammer it reads "Whoever holds this hammer, if he is worthy, will receive the power of Thor". Mjölnir is a symbol of protection and power .

wild boar

Boar Tattoo

Attribute of the goddess Freya and the god Freyr , the boar is a symbol of spiritual authority and love.

The Monsters and Animals of Norse Mythology

Fenrir, the Ravenous Wolf

Fenrir Tattoo

Fenrir is the wolf fathered by the mischievous god Loki. Chained to Ragnarök, Fenrir ended up killing the god Odin in the final battle. Representing the Fenrir wolf is a symbol of strength and protection .

Jörmungand, the Midgard Serpent

Jormungand Ouroboros Tattoo

The Midgard Serpent , called Jörmungand , is also a monster spawned by the god Loki. The snake is so big that it manages to surround the earth and bite its tail. During Ragnarök, he comes out of the waters and comes to kill the god Thor.

To symbolize eternity, rebirth and the return of time , Jörmungand may be depicted as Ouroboros . That is to say in the form of a snake biting its tail.

Odin's Ravens

Crows Hugin Munin Odin Tattoo

The god Odin had two crows (Hugin and Munin) as advisers . The birds were the eyes and ears of the god as they traveled above the nine worlds. Representing these crows is a symbol of knowledge and wisdom .

Other Viking tattoos to make

The list of Viking tattoos can be extended since there are several hundred representations and symbols. Among these, the best known are:

  • The Trolls' cross : to protect against demons and negative waves.
  • Wyrd's web : as a sign of universal interconnectivity.
  • The Valkyrie : to symbolize power and control.
  • Odin's horn : to symbolize wisdom.

    Where on the body to make a Viking tattoo?

    viking arm tattoo

    Of course it is up to each individual to choose where to get a Viking symbol tattoo. But if you want to stick as well as possible to the Nordic warriors, certain places are to be preferred.

    According to the famous Vikings series, many Scandinavian warriors had skull tattoos and the trend is still relevant. The advantage is that if you get tired of your tattoo, all you have to do is let your hair grow back… unless the tattoo overflows on your face, which is also possible.

    The back, the side and the arms are perfect when you want to tattoo an imposing image such as a face, a scene, or an animal for example. The torso is just as important, but making smaller tattoos there is also a wise idea: a symbol on each pectoral for example.

    Calves and thighs are two equally popular places to get a Viking symbol tattoo, especially when tall. We can quite imagine a Midgard snake going up on the whole leg for example.

    For those who prefer discretion , smaller symbols , like runes for example, can be tattooed on an ankle , wrist , finger or collarbone .

    And for those looking to dig even deeper into the meaning of their tattoo , it's on the forearm that it should be done. Indeed, this place is the symbol of the inner being , of the inner “me”.

    Viking tattoos facebook group

    Discover our Facebook group dedicated to sharing your Viking tattoos. https://www.facebook.com/groups/tattooviking

    Post your Viking tattoos, discuss their meanings and discover new ideas!

    Examples of Viking Tattoos (Inspiration & Ideas)

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    1 comment

    la série Viking.

    Cécile Perreton

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