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Cross Tattoos

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Tribal Cross TattoosCross tattoos are among the most versatile tattoo symbols out there today, as even a rudimentary internet search reveals.

Cross TattoosThe most popular cross tattoos is the Latin cross, a Christian religious symbol. Not all cross tattoos are religious in nature though – at least, not in a conventional sense.

Some people get cross tattoos to express their religious feelings, other people may just like the design or give a pre-Christian or personal symbolic meaning to their cross tattoo.

Cross tattoos designs are representations of a symbol that is far more ancient and varied than you might think.

Cross tattoos are usually worn by men (on the shoulders, back, forearm). Women also have them, but then the design is usually smaller and more feminine (on the foot, ankle, hand, lower back).

Pre-Christian Crosses

Some people may be surprised to learn that crosses were not always a Christian symbol. There were many cross symbols in the older, pagan religions.

Tattoo drawings of crosses come from many different traditions:

Celtic Cross Tattoos

Celtic Cross TattooThe Celtic cross (aka Irish cross) is a particularly beautiful representation of this almost universal symbol and Celtic cross tattoos are a popular type of Celtic tattoo.

The Celtic cross looks like a basic cross with a circle (symbol for the sun) around the intersection and is adorned with Celtic knot work art. The effect of these tribal cross tattoos is stunning, either in plain black, blue or a bold Celtic green. The Celtic cross is often incorporated in an armband tattoo.

Follow the link to learn more about Celtic Cross Tattoos and other Celtic tattoos. Here's an example of a cracked stone Celtic cross tattoo with the family insignia in the middle:

Celtic Cross Tattoos

Christian Cross Tattoos

Christian Cross TattoosThe Christian faith uses the cross as a symbol for the fact that Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans, a common Roman way of executing slaves and non-Romans. The Christian cross symbolizes Jesus' victory over dead.

One of the first things that come to mind when thinking about Christian cross tattoos is: Is it ok for a Christian to get a tattoo?

The answer is yes, it is ok for a Christian to get a tattoo. The Christian religion doesn't have a rule against tattoos, unlike the Jewish faith.

Even if we just look at the basic Christian cross, there is still an almost endless variation in types of symbols and images:

Cross Tattoo DesignsHoly cross tattoos are very apt at expressing the Christian faith, and have come to be associated with Christianity throughout the world.

Ethiopian Cross Tattoos

Ethiopian Cross TattooThe Ethiopian cross tattoo is worn by followers of the Coptic church to express their faith. The Coptic church is the largest Christian church in Egypt.

The Coptic cross has 2 lines of equal length and is derived from the Egyptian ankh cross. At the end of the lines are 3 points that symbolize:

Gothic Cross Tattoos

Although the Goth subculture is not tied to a specific religion, they like to adorn themselves with religious symbols, especially Catholic symbols.

Gothic cross tattoos often have an iron texture and are heavily adorned. The crosses are often combined with imaginary like daggers and barbed wire. Gothic tattoos are German in style.

Maltese Cross Tattoo

Originally, the Maltese cross is the symbol of the Knights Hospitaller, a group of Christian warriors. A Maltese cross tattoo has 4 v-shaped arms with the narrow end on the inside and 8 points. The 8 points stand for:

Maltese Cross Tattoo

In the US, the Maltese cross is used by firefighters, for example the Philadelphia Fire Department and that of New York both have a Maltese cross in their insignia. Maltese cross tattoos often have flames in their design.

Maltese Cross Tattoo

Southern Cross Tattoos

The Southern cross (aka crux) is a constellation that is visible in the Southern Hemisphere. Several flags have the Southern cross on them, like those from Australia, Brazil, Samoa and more.

The Southern cross is also pictured on the Confederate flag or the rebel flag, used by the Confederate States in the American civil war.

Iron Cross Tattoos

Iron cross tattoos are popular with bikers. The iron cross was a German military decoration that was handed out to soldiers. Nowadays it is the logo of the German army. In the 60s, the iron cross was also popular among American surfers.

Cross Tattoo Combinations

Cross tattoos are often combined with other elements. This is a good idea because it adds to the personal meaning of your tattoo design.

Here are the most popular images to combine with a cross tattoo:

The sheer number of cross symbols that exist – and the power of the cross symbol - ensures that cross tattoos have lasting power and symbolism.

Memorial Tattoos

Memorial tattoos are growing more and more popular, especially since 9/11. Cross tattoos like this often have a stone texture combined with the name and/or date from someone dear who has died. Memorial tattoos are also popular as a way to honour a dead soldier who has died in service. They are a good way to express grief for a person and often replace the role of a gravestone.

Celebrities With Cross Tattoos

Here's an overview of celebrities with a cross tattoo. Let me know if I missed someone:

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