Tattoos are arguably one of the best methods for illustrating devotion, so naturally people would turn to ink to display their religious faith. Religious figures and symbols both have a long history in tattoo styles from across the globe. The American traditional tattoo style makes extensive use of Christian figures like the Virgin Mary, and crosses are also prominent in the bold, colorful style. New age traditional tattoos take deep inspiration from Buddhist and Hindu imagery, involving ‘om’ symbols, mandalas, and deities. From devout believers to the philosophical and the spiritual, religious imagery inspires the tattoo faithful.
The Virgin Mary is a popular image in the American traditional style, and there are countless renditions of the familiar likeness of the praying, somber Mary. When it comes to tattoos celebrating Christian faith, the Virgin Mary is equal in popularity to simpler images like the cross and portraits of Jesus himself. This portrait of the Virgin Mary represents a perfect unification of faith and tattoos. The tattoo is faithful not only in its depiction of a religious figure, but also in its adherence to the image that inspired this portrait.
When searching for ink tagged as “religious tattoos” on Instagram, the large majority of those search results are various renditions of the Virgin Mary. Many of these tattoos adhere to the hyperrealistic style, and moreover, most of them use muted black and grey ink. Despite the prevalence of the Virgin Mary amongst religious tattoos, artists have managed to maintain their creativity, using her likeness as a canvas upon which they can illustrate their own unique style. Whereas the prior tattoo stuck close to the Guadalupe image of Mary, this tattoo marries the artist’s personal flair with the familiar figure.
Inked images of the Virgin Mary run the gamut from intricate colorful portraits to minimalist linework like this tattoo. Despite the unique styles of each portrait, these renditions of the Virgin Mary share far more similarities than they do differences. Each image has the quintessential halo surrounding Mary, and although the halo takes different shapes, sizes, and colors, it acts as one of many symbols that clearly defines the image as a portrait of the Virgin Mary.
This particular portrait blends elements of both the hyperreal and the traditional styles. Each of Mary’s features have far more definition, like that of a real face, than traditional images of the religious figure. Still, the popular Guadalupe portrait remains a clear inspiration to this tattoo; this is clear in the halos of light emerging from behind Mary and her pose. Mary’s head tilts downwards as her eyes stare into the distance, and she holds her hands together in prayer. Tattoo artists pick and choose aspects of the Guadalupe image to recreate. The pose and halo however are nearly universal in these images.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.