Hand of Glory Tattoos:

The Hand of Glory was a particularly grotesque tool used by criminals, particularly thieves, to aid in robberies. The legend dates back to the 15th century, and there are numerous accounts of people using them throughout history.

American traditional Hand of Glory done by Cassie Lynn O’Neal at Floating World Tattoos.
A lit Hand of Glory with an eye and a snake done by Oskar Gurbada.

The name reportedly comes from the French, “main de glorie”, which in turn got its name from the magical mandrake root.

A more realistic and black and grey Hand of Glory done by Alex Pea at Drop of Ink in Pennsylvania.
A very magical Hand of Glory done by Pa Dundon, done at Sands of Time Tattoo in Ireland.

According to legend, mandrakes grow under gallows from the seed of a hanged man, and they were believed to shine like lamps at night, also in roughly the shape of a hand.

Another American traditional Hand of Glory with wings done by Emil Dz at Philadelphia Eddies Tattoo.
Hand of Glory radiating light for this wearer, done by Sam at Westside Tattoo in Brisbane.

The process of making a hand of glory is quite particular, and adds to the macabre nature of the thing. Sabine Baring-Gould wrote in his book, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages: “The Hand of Glory .. is the hand of a man who has been hung, and it is prepared in the following manner: Wrap the hand in a piece of winding-sheet, drawing it tight, so as to squeeze out the little blood which may remain; then place it in an earthenware vessel with saltpeter, salt, and long pepper, all carefully and thoroughly powdered. Let it remain a fortnight in this pickle till it is well dried, then expose it to the sun in the dog-days, till it is completely parched, or, if the sun be not powerful enough, dry it in an oven heated with vervain and fern. Next make a candle with the fat of a hung man, virgin-wax, and Lapland sesame.” (1873)

A more colourful and stylized American traditional Hand of Glory done by Jon Harper at Black Friars Tattoo.

The people who used hands of glory had different beliefs. Some believed it could give light only to them, leaving others in darkness, some believed it could make them invisible, many thought it could burn forever and could only be put out if the user so desired, others believed and hoped it could render any nearby person motionless or put occupants of a residence to sleep. All tales of the hand of glory seem to show the belief that the hand could open any nearby lock, making it an even more useful tool for those wishing to take something that does not belong to them.

A bleeding American traditional Hand of Glory done by JP Farias at Atlantico Tattoo.

Open, lock, 
To the Dead Man’s knock! 
Fly, bolt, and bar, and band! 
Nor move, nor swerve, 
Joint, muscle, or nerve,  
At the spell of the Dead Man’s hand!  
Sleep, all who sleep! — Wake, all who wake!  
But be as the dead for the Dead Man’s sake! 

Now lock, nor bolt, nor bar avails, 
Nor stout oak panel thick-studded with nails. 
Heavy and harsh the hinges creak,  
Though they had been oil’d in the course of the week.  
The door opens wide as wide may be,  
And there they stand,  
That murderous band,  
Lit by the light of the Glorious Hand,  
By one! — by two! — by three! By Thomas Ingoldsby

Black and grey Hand of Glory with an eye done by Lindsay K at Urge Studios in Victoria, Canada.

And of course fans of Harry Potter will be familiar with the Hand of Glory from Mr. Borgin and Burkes’ store when young Mr. Malfoy takes a fancy to it. “Ah, the Hand of Glory!” said Mr. Borgin, abandoning Mr. Malfoy’s list and scurrying over to Draco. “Insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers! Your son has fine taste, sir.” 

A solid linework Hand of Glory with burned out candles and an eye done by Nevada Buckley at Firefly Tattoo Collective.

Which gruesome hand is your favourite and why? Let me know in the comments and remember to check out any of the artists if you liked their work.

Tattoo Artist Couple: 1

Couples who tattoo together stay together!

Demons and monsters by Osang
Three witches spinning the threads of human destiny done by Sojung

Osang and Sojung are a South Korean couple who tattoo at Hysteric Garden, Seoul, and also do guest spots around the world, including America, Canada, Australia, Europe, and Taiwan.

Burning candle, skull, and magic hand by Osang
A goat and its brides done by Sojung

Both artists specialize in black work that is heavy on detailed lines, and macabre subject matter. As Halloween is right around the corner, they are a perfect pair to get a couple of tattoos from!

Burning church set ablaze by a mischievous demon, done by Osang
A burning witch done by Sojung

You can bring in your own ideas or get an original piece from either of them.

Torture device and a big ole bug done by Osang
Guillotine by Sojung

The couple do lots of specifically occult pieces such as demons, devils, black goats, witches, etc. They are also happy to tattoo more traditional Korean designs such as tigers and ravens if that’s more your style.

A meeting with a demon done by Osang
A dance with the devil by Sojung

If you want a one of a kind, detail oriented black work piece, look no further.

A witchy hanging done by Osang

Anatomical human by Sojung
Traditional Korean tiger done by Osang

Medieval torture by Sojung
Beheading done by Osang
Demonic Angel by Sojung
Gallows and face done by Osang
Vision of the valley of dry bones by Sojung
Gallows in Hell done by Osang
Three eyed goat by Sojung

Keep an eye out on their Instagrams for their travelling guest spots, or pop in while you’re in South Korea. @osangbrutal @goatblackeyed you can find their emails for bookings on their individual Instagram accounts

The Lord of the Rings Tattoos:

The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R Tolkien is one of (if not the) most iconic fantasy stories ever written. The story was written as a sequel to another novel of his, The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was written in stages between 1937 and 1949.

Jesse Rix
Magnificent realistic back piece featuring Gandalf, Gollum, the ring, and the eye of Sauron. Done by Jesse Rix in Keene, NH.
Ben Kaye Tattooer & part owner of Ship Shape tattoo, New Zealand
Hyper realistic portrait of Gimli done by Ben Kaye at Ship Shape Tattoo in New Zealand.
Heath Clifford
Solid neo traditional hobbit hole done by Heath Clifford at Fat Ink Tattoo.
Kristian Kimonides Tattooist | Leviathan Tattoo Gallery | Melbourne | Australia
Elrond portrait done by Kristian Kimonides at Leviathan Tattoo Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.
Onnie O'Leary
American traditional Witch King done by Onnie O’Leary.

Tolkien fought in WW1, and this was extremely influential in his shaping of Middle Earth. As an example, WW1 was fought not by heroes, but by civilians. This reflects the hobbits who are quite literally the “little people”, who then step up to fight a war that they had not asked to be a part of.

Fong Vang Tattoo Artist @Inkarnate Tattoos 2211 11th ave E, #120, north Saint Paul, Mn
Black and grey portrait of Aragorn, featuring Gimli and Legolas. Done by Fong Vang at Inkarnate Tattoos in North Saint Paul, Mn.
Carles Bonafe
Terrifying portrait of Gollum and his precious. Done by Carles Bonafe.
Iliya Astafiev Tattoo Artist. N.Chelny city, Russia
Terrifying and realistic portrait of a nazgul. Done by Iliya Astafiev Chelny city, Russia.
Lauren Gibler Tattooer & Permanent makeup artist at Inkeeper_s in canton OH
Broken shards of Narsil. Done by Lauren Gibler done in Canton OH.
Róbert A Borbás
Graphic black and grey sleeve featuring Gandalf fighting the balrog on the bridge of Kazan Dum. Done by Róbert A Borbás done at Rooklet Ink, Hungary.

The films were directed by Peter Jackson, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. They were filmed back to back on location in New Zealand, making for fantastic landscapes and scenery.

Alex Rattray Owner:Artist at Empire Ink EDINBURGH
Hyper realistic colour portraits of Sam, Frodo, and the ring. Done by Alex Rattray at Empire Ink in Edinburgh.
Cody Young Emerald Tattoo
A very green ent done by Cody Young at Emerald Tattoo.
Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos
Black and grey Gandalf amidst a geometric background done by Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos.
Lauren Melina
Blackwork Barad Dur (dark tower) done by Lauren Melina done in Perth, Australia.
Samantha I Love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto
There and back again, inspiration taken from The Hobbit book cover. Done by Samantha at I love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto.

Some of the most popular characters include Gandalf, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gollum (Smeagol), Sam, Aragorn, Elrond, Saruman, Witch king, and Sauron. Fantastic creatures include the ents, the balrog, and the nazgul. Popular items include the swords sting, and the shards of Narsil, as well as the Witch King’s flail, and quaint hobbit holes. Of course we also can’t forget the ring itself, which makes a stellar tattoo, especially when paired with a portrait.

Alexandra Skarsgård
Sting and flowers done by Alexandra Skarsgård in London.
Dan Mawdsley Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne✖️The Black Mark Tattoo Northcote
Black and grey Gandalf portrait done by Dan Mawdsley at Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne, Australia.
Jerome Chapman
Linework version of an ent. Done by Jerome Chapman.
Maksims Zotovs
Hyper realistic Gollum done by Maksims Zotovs.
Tony Sklepic Pop culture inspired tattoos and artwork. EDMONTON ALBERTA
Hyper realistic matching portraits of Saruman (and the eye of Sauron) and Gandalf. Done by Tony Sklepic done in Edmonton, Alberta.

Lord of the Rings tattoos are often done in a photo realistic or hyper realistic style, as well as black and grey, dotwork, linework, American traditional, and neo traditional.

artist--khail-tattooer--legolas-tattoo_17190113824
Black and grey Legolas done by Khail Tattooer at Young bloods Tattoo in Perth, Australia.
Dave Swambo
Witch King hand and Morgul blade done by Dave Swambo at Stronghold Tattoo in Cardiff, Wales.
Jess White
Bright and bold hobbit hole done by Jess White in Sacramento, CA.
Nick imms Fumbling through life. Owner of @thechurchtattoo ☦️
Gorgeous portrait of Frodo and the ring done by Nick Imms at the Church Tattoo.
Travis Stanley Ink City Tattoo Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City
American traditional Witch King and flail. Done by Travis Stanley at Ink City Tattoo in Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City.

Which do you prefer, the books, or the films?