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The characteristics. layout and positioning of snake tattoos are similar to those of dragon tattoos. And like dragons, because of their meaning, symbolism and size versatility, they are very popular. Whether inked as a large back-piece or a small graphic in the bikini-area, snake tattoo designs can practically be positioned anywhere on the body. Many are seen slithering up legs, wrapping around arms, or sitting tightly coiled on the bicep area.
The most common snake tattoo designs pair serpents with beautiful roses, bold tribal patterns and sharp daggers. Although there are many snake varieties to choose from, cobras and rattlesnakes rank at the top of the snake tattoo request list.
Of the hundreds of different types of cobra snakes the King Cobra is the most popular. King Cobras are the longest of all venomous snakes, reaching up to 18 feet in length and are the only snakes able to spit their venom. When threatened, cobras can raise up to one-third of their bodies off of the ground to stare their competitors in the eyes. Their most notable physical features, however, are the “hoods” that flare out behind their heads to ward off threats.
In ancient Egypt, a cobra represented royalty, sovereignty and authority. It was known as Uraeus and its symbol prominent on the headpieces of pharaohs. Therefore, many Egyptian tattoos feature cobras.
Rattlesnakes are venomous snakes and are known for the rattlers" at the ends of their tails (used to ward off potential threats) and their triangular heads. Each time a rattlesnake sheds its skin, a new rattler appears. These serpents are primarily found in the southern regions of the United States. Of the 16 rattlesnake varieties, the most well known is the diamondback. This particular serpent has a recognizable diamond pattern down the centre of its back.
Rattlesnake tattoos are common choices for those wanting to combine snake tattoo art and a southwestern motif. These particular snake tattoos feature rattlesnakes coiled around boot spurs, slithering through cowskulls, or coiled among desert scenes of cacti and hot desert suns.
Symbolism of Snake Tattoos
- Evil: In the Bible, it was a serpent that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – ultimately representing evil.
- Lies: The forked tongue of the snake can represent someone who tells lies.
- Rebirth: The shedding of the snake’s skin is representative of change, or rebirth.
- Chinese Calendar: The snake represents those born in 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989 and 2001 in the Chinese calendar.
Oroborus Snake Tattoos
An Orobous snake tattoo is one where the snake is biting its own tail – “a self devouring snake". It is representative of eternity, rebirth and the cycle of life. This symbol can be traced back to ancient Egypt.
In Japan the snake is considered an animal with a negative character, although the association between snake and sin (biblically justified by the Christian church) is not present in Japanese culture. When applying a full body suit a good Japanese tattoo artist tends to combine snakes only with designs of blossoms that bloom in the seasons when snakes are not undergoing their winter sleep.
Celebrities with Snake Tattoos
Snake tattoos are even popular among some of today’s most famous celebrities. Here is a small sample of tattooed celebrities:
- Jeff Corwin (Animal Expert): Coral snake tattoo on left shoulder
- Alyssa Milano (Actress): Snake biting its own tail tattoo on the inside of right wrist
- Brad Roberts (Musician): Snake tattoo on back left shoulder wrapping around to the side of his shoulder
- Slash (Guitarist): Snake tattoo on right shoulder
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