The pharaoh’s horses are an American traditional design that dates back to the early 1900’s when it became a staple as a back and chest tattoo, along with other designs such as the Rock of Ages and The Last Supper.
One of the earliest examples of this design is by Gus Wagner who worked as a tattooer, and circus performer from the late 1800’s until his death in 1941.
The design of the pharaoh’s horses comes from biblical times, when horses were seen as a symbol of wealth, status, warfare, and power. Horses are specifically linked to pharaoh Ramses II who lived more than 3000 years ago. These horses of course portray a sense of power, but there is also an implied reference to Exodus 14 which reads thus. “The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horse-men the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.” This appears to be a warning of following a singular pursuit without regard to the consequences.
These tattoos are often done as large pieces on backs or chests, but can also be done as larger parts of a sleeve or leg piece. The horses are often accompanied by flowers, horseshoes, chains, and other traditional pieces such as eagles.
Kali is a Hindu goddess often misconstrued as a goddess of death. While she does bring about the death of the ego and demons, she does not kill humans. She is the counterpart of the more violent deity Shiva the destroyer, both of whom are the destroyers of unreality. Kali is depicted as a woman with a garland of skulls or heads, and dismembered arms, because the ego arises out of identification with the body. She also is usually seen with black or dark blue skin, which symbolizes the womb of which all creation arises and into which all creation will eventually dissolve into. So she is often mistaken as a fearsome deity, she is actually a motherly figure.
As a tattoo Kali is often done in American traditional style, neo-traditional, black and grey, or realism.
In the Christian faith Mary is the mother of Jesus, also called mother of God.
In the story of Christmas Mary is visited by an angel and told she will give birth to the son of God. Jesus is then born in a barn, amongst animals and wisemen. Throughout the bible Mary is constantly seen at her son’s side during his soteriological journey.
Images of Mary often show her praying, or mourning the death of Jesus, sometimes crying tears of blood. She is also often seen wearing blue, crown of 12 stars, pregnant, or surrounded by roses.
Artists such as Michelangelo and Botticelli, and now, tattoo artists all around the world.
In tattoo form Mary is often done in black and grey realism, photo realism, American traditional, or neo traditional.
Gorillas in nature are associated with brute strength and bravery, but also for their compassion, honour, and intelligence. It is no surprise then that gorillas have been a popular choice in the tattoo world.
Gorillas are usually done in American traditional, neo traditional, photo realism, or black and grey. Gorillas done in traditional style are now usually based off of Ed Hardy’s traditional gorilla piece.
Gorilla tattoos are also almost always just the head. Though sometimes there are full bodied depictions.
And of course you can’t have gorilla tattoos without seeing King Kong, the king of gorillas.
Spider web tattoos are most commonly associated with criminals. Usually showing that the wearer has done time behind bars, the number of lines leading out of the web signifying the years of time spent. Now though it is less associated with crime, and more commonly used as a great filler tattoo for American traditional sleeves. Not all spider web tattoos are done in American traditional though. They can be black and grey or even realistic. They are often now paired with something Halloween related, and can also have spiders in them or hanging off of them.