Saturday, March 3, 2012

Skull / Sugar Skull Tattoo Symbolism

Symbolism of Skulls

Skull keywords: Mortality, Protection, Intimidation, Death, Intellect, Warning

In African, Australian, and even Native American tribes skulls are very good luck . Skulls of the dead were retained and placed prominently at entryways. This warded off "evil spirits" but mostly they kept unwelcome guests away.

Skulls have also been used to intimidate. Many dictuators and rulers collected skulls and hung them out  as trophies - similar to a buck's head being mounted on a hunters wall.

 Lord Dracul strew skulls along villages he'd plundered as his calling card.

Ancient Celts, who viewed the skull as a symbol of the spark of life. Specifically, the Celts knew the skull was the seat of the soul.

In alchemical symbolism the skull is considered the throne of higher intelligence. Symbolizing: consciousness, rationality and prudence. 

In Mexico, the skull is a representation of impermanence, transition, and freedom.  It signifies the liberation of worldly burdens.  The annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations of Mexico in which the skull is a prominent feature, is an extension of this liberation theme.  This is a time when veil separating the dead from the living is at its thinnest.  A time in which life and death meet, and loved ones are reunited.   
Here the skull represents the faint shadows our physical remnant leaves behind upon our death.  Beyond those gaping dark sockets is the life beyond what our eyes have seen. 
Mexican tradition honors the cycle of life and death – their symbols such as the skull are testimonies to their profound insight into such complex concepts.
Sugar Skulls are often used to decorate the ofrendas on Dia de los Muertos which is November 1st and 2nd. Smaller skulls are placed on the ofrenda on November 1st to represent the children who have deceased. On November 2nd they are replaced by larger, more ornate skulls which represent the adults. These decorative skulls have the name of the deceased on the forehead and are decorated with stripes, dots and swirls of icing to enhance the features of the skulls. These designs are usually whimsical and brightly colored, not morbid or scary. Feathers, beads or colored foils are "glued" on with the icing to create highly ornate skulls. 

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