Viking tattoo: stories, origins, symbols and ideas in photos


Are you fascinated by Viking tattoos and want to tattoo one? In this publication you will find interesting information about the Viking culture, the earliest tattoo traces and a list of the most frequently tattooed Viking tattoo symbols and their meanings and a gallery of more than 47 inspiring photos.

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If Nordic history is your passion (or you love the TV series) Vikings ), it is obvious that you want to decorate your body with a viking tattoo!


The tattoo viking is more and more trend in recent years. But did the Vikings have tattoos? Historical evidence indicates that yes or at least the Swedish Vikings who raided and traded in Russia.

The Helm of Awe tattoo viking idea

Focus on the viking tattoo, its origins and meanings

There is not much info about the history and culture of the Vikings. Indeed, they have published few literary works about their own culture. We are therefore obliged to call on external accounts. Many of these accounts come from men from the Arab countries, who had numerous trade and cultural exchanges with the Scandinavians in the ninth and tenth centuries.

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An Arab traveler, Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, a scholar from Baghdad, was sent by the Abbasid caliph on a diplomatic mission to the Bulgarians in the region of the Middle Volga in Russia. He first met the Nordic warriors as he crossed the vast steppes of Russia. The Nordic warriors sailed on their launches along the Volga and sought to trade with the Arab world. The Arab world was the richest civilization in Western Eurasia, especially as Europe struggled to consolidate the centuries that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire. There, in 921 AD, he met a people called Rus, Swedish Viking merchants, who brought slaves to sell on the markets.

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Historical descriptions of viking tattoo

Ibn Fadlan describes the Rus in his travel chronicler. He called them the "Rusiyyah," now known as the Vikings.

"I've never seen bodies as perfect as theirs," he wrote. As tall as palm trees, clear and red, they do not wear tunics or kaftans. Each man wears a coat with which he covers half of his body, so that an arm is uncovered. They carry axes, sepulchers, dagers and balances to their reach. In addition, they use Frankish tails with wide streaked blades.

svefnthorn-story Viking Photo

At one point, he mentioned that all men were tattooed with fingertips around their necks. Tattoos were figures of trees and dark green symbols. However, it is likely that the tattoos were probably dark blue, a color that stems from the use of wood ash to dye the skin. While Ibn Fadlan describes the tattoos as trees, he could have seen the Viking beast seizing the animals or other knot patterns to which the Vikings were attached. For him, they looked like women's gold and silver rings.


The Vikings used wood ashes to dye their skin. This is the first testimony of the Viking tattoo.

Moreover, the description of the tattoos may have been less of an eyewitness testimony than a rhetorical device used by the Arabs to portray the savagery of the Scandinavians. They viewed them with a combination of horror and fascination. Ibn Fadlan had harsh words for their hygiene: "They are the dirtiest creatures of God's creatures," he observed. Although he recognized that they were washing their hands, face and head every day, he was appalled to have done it "in the dirtiest and dirtiest way possible" in a pool of water common. It was an old Germanic custom that caused an understandable revulsion in a Muslim who generally practiced ablutions only in running or poured water.


Ibrahim Ibn Yacoub al-Tartushi, traveling to Europe at the same time, represented the Muslim kingdom of Al Andalus in Spain. Reaching a border town between Germany and Denmark, he was not impressed by the dirty town, far from the beauty and elegance of his hometown, Cordoba.

He described Viking society as a society in which women could divorce freely - "they separated with their husbands whenever they wanted" - and where both sexes wore "artificial makeup for the eyes".


symbol-Nordic-idea original-Viking-tattoo

Worst of all was their singing: similar terrible song of the people of Schleswig singing. It's a groan that comes out of their throat, similar to the bark of dogs but even more to a wild animal.

This is a rather light proof to state categorically that the Vikings have tattooed themselves. The Arabic word used in the original text for "tattooing" was more commonly used to describe mosque decorations rather than actual tattoos - a proper description taking into account the similarities between the geometric patterns of a mosque and those of a mosque. runic viking tattoo. In addition, tattoos are not mentioned in any of the sagas or poetry, although these literary works describe many other physical characteristics such as scars or hair color.

authentic viking tattoo forearm man

Viking tattoos exhumed

Unfortunately, human skin does not survive for centuries of burial. However, a Scythian leader had been found in Siberia and buried around 500 BC. He had been buried under the permafrost; his skin and his tattoos have survived. Although this discovery predates the 1300-year-old Viking traders in Russia, it is possible that the Vikings could meet Scythian descendants on trade missions to Russia and learn the art of tattooing from them. The tattoos of the Scythian warrior had of course Scythian artistic styles. If the Vikings actually had tattoos, it is likely that they would have used the Nordic drawings and symbols found in their other works of art on bone carvings or jewelry.


For a more "modern" example, the ancient mummy of a mysterious young woman, known as Princess Ukok, was found at 2,500 meters of altitude in the Altai Mountains, in a border region of Russia with Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. The remains of the "Princess" dressed to perfection, about 25 years old and preserved for several millennia in the Siberian permafrost, were discovered in 1993 by the scientist Natalia Polosmak of Novosibirsk. His colorful body designs are considered the best preserved and most elaborate ancient tattoos in the world.

tattoo viking shoulder man idea tattoo photo

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The tattoos on the left shoulder of the "princess" represent a fantastic mythological animal: a deer with a griffin beak and capricorn woods. The woods are decorated with griffin heads. And the same griffin's head is shown at the back of the animal.

The mouth of a spotted panther with a long tail is seen on the legs of a sheep. She also has a deer head on the wrist, with big wood. There is a drawing on the body of the animal on an inch of his left hand.

"Tattoos" were used as a means of personal identification - like a passport now, if you want. The Pazyryks also believed that tattoos - would be useful in another life, which would allow people of the same family and the same culture to find each other after death. added Dr. Polosmak. "The Pazyryks have repeated the same images of animals in other types of art, which is considered a language of the day. animal images, which represents their thoughts. "

viking tattoo

Many tattooists have designed Viking tattoos, which can be easily found online. Popular Viking tattoos include compass tattoo, called vegvisir . This symbol, however, does not date from the Viking Age; it dates from the 17th century, according to an Icelandic book on magic. The Helm of Awe or aegishjalmur is another popular tattoo motif used by the Vikings. This symbol allows the wearer to hit his enemies with fear and confusion. It is also thought to grant magical powers to the wearer.

And now zoom in on the different Nordic symbols, their meanings and their interpretations in tattoos.

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viking tattoo forearm idea

valknut tattoo viking forearm man woman


The Valknut: a Viking and Germanic tattoo at a time

The valknut is a figure composed of three interlaced triangles. Translated from Norse, it means knot of fallen or warriors killed. Some historians say that this figure symbolized power and freedom. This symbol is also associated with the German God Odin because it is found engraved on many Germanic tombs. The Vikings did not have graves. Indeed, the dead were "sent" to the sea in a boat with all their personal belongings.

Valknut is undoubtedly the most famous Germanic and Nordic symbol.

valknut tattoo viking forearm man woman

Vegvisir: Icelandic symbol

Vegvisir, translated to show the way, is indeed an Icelandic magic symbol. It has nothing to do with the Vikings, but it is also part of the mythology of the peoples of the North.

This symbol was found in a modern Icelandic collection of spells, the Huld manuscript. We find only one sentence on the subject of Vegvisir and its meaning: "If this sign is worn, it will never lose its way in storms or bad weather, even if the way is not known."

We do not really know its origin and whether it was invented during the Viking Age or after. In any case, it's a nice symbol with a beautiful meaning!


Awe's Helm (The Helm of Awe)

Awe's Helm is one of the most mysterious and powerful symbols of Norse mythology. Its shape is fascinating - a circle with eight arms. Like most ancient Germanic and Nordic symbols, the form of its visual representation was far from strictly fixed. For example, the Galdrabók, an Icelandic grimoire dating from the seventeenth century, includes a drawing of Awe's Helm with only four arms and without sets of lines perpendicular to the arms. Its shape is also reminiscent of Vegvisir.

It symbolizes strength and invincibility. Some say it was the symbol of the warriors.

The Helm of Awe tattoo viking idea

Viking tattoo model Awe's Helmet with two hands

Awe's helmet tattoo viking tattoo idea back

Viking Tattoo Awe's Helm

The Helmet of Awe tattoo viking idea shoulder

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The Svefnthorn

is a symbol found in many Nordic and folk tales dating from the Age of the Vikings. Its shape varies considerably from one source to another. Like other Nordic symbols, it has neither shape nor definitive meanings. But, there is a common interpretation of all texts: the Svefnthorn was used to put an opponent in a deep sleep that he would not wake up long.

Svefnthorn authentic viking tattoo idea man woman


Svefnthorn viking tattoo authentic idea man woman nape

Svefnthorn authentic viking tattoo idea man woman

Explained symbols


Viking tattoo ideas:

  • Aegishjalmur - protection, invincibility (in a battle)
  • vegvisir - Compass, never get lost on the way
  • Gapaldur - success (in a fight)
  • Ginfaxi - courage (in a fight)
  • - camouflage and disappointment
  • Hraethigaldur - install fear in his enemy
  • Ottastafur - install fear in his enemy
  • Svefnthorn - the symbol of sleep
  • To imprison in a powerful way
  • Lasabrjotur - Break the chains, break free
  • Gibu Auja - good luck
  • And the last four, at the bottom, translated into French - good health, healing, end of conflict, peace




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tattoo idea Rune-viking-viking-tattoo-compass-moon symbol





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authentic viking tattoo finger tattoo

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authentic viking tattoo original woman

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