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Angel Tattoo Designs
It's not surprising that angels are so popular as tattoo subject matter. Wearing something specific or marking the body for the purpose of blessing or protection is one of the oldest practices of humankind. Nearly all cultures incorporate the beliefs in protective or benevolent spirits. Angels just happen to be the predominant form these spirits take in Western culture.
People who choose to wear angel tattoos often have a strong sense of religious faith, although angels do not have to be specifically Christian. Ancient Persian warriors believed the afterlife filled with houris, winged female beings who would spend eternity in dalliance with the soldiers if they died bravely in battle. You can even find angels in traditional Japanese tattooing. Buddhist angels, called tennin are female winged deities often shown wearing robes decorated with phoenix feathers. The robes of the tennin and the feathers of the phoenix are both five colors, one to symbolize each of the Five Virtues.
Angels can be symbolic of religious belief or they can impart a sense of religious blessing and protection. People who have felt they have had a religious rebirth or reawakening might like an angel tattoo as a sign of their growth or new path. Through posture and countenance angels can project feelings of mercy and compassion, or righteous vengeance and action. Biblical stories or mythologies about angels are often the basis for larger tattooed images, and if you are thinking about a major piece with angels in it, you might think about showing your angels displaying the qualities that you admire about them or showing a moment from a story that you like best.
In contemporary Western culture, angels are almost always depicted as youthful, ranging widely from baby age through energetic adulthood. White feathered wings are universal to almost all angels depicted in American and European cultures. Sometimes angels are shown with halos or glowing auras as further indication of their heavenly power. They can be shown with their hands extended, either in surrender or offering mercy, or held together in prayer and reverence. The more representative of retribution the angel imagery, the greater the chance the angel will be shown in the form of an adult male.
One of the most common forms of angel tattoo is the cherub. This is essentially an interpretation of an angel that shows it as a cheerful winged baby. Many examples of these can be seen in paintings from the Italian Renaissance, where they are called "putti." They have a very strong association as symbolizing innocence and purity. Frequently people who get tattooed to commemorate the passing of a newborn baby or child choose to include some form of a cherub as part of the tattoo design. You will also see tattoos of two cherubs where they are set apart with a banner suspended between them bearing a message.
If you're looking for tattoo designs or ideas, you might like
500 Tattoo Designs
by Henry Ferguson
The Sketchbook: 80 Unique Designs by the World's Finest Tattoo Artists
by Nancy Heimburger and Marco Bratt
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