History of the Crown of Thorns
The crown of thorns comes from the New Testament of the Christian bible, making it an especially important symbol to Christians.
It is associated with the Passion of Christ, which includes events within the final period of Jesus’ life, including his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus claimed to be the son of God and the King of the Jews, a statement that had been labeled as blasphemous and led to his conviction.
Prior to his crucifixion, the Roman soldiers placed a crown of thorns on his head. In mockery, the soldiers bowed before him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Though the Romans saw the crown as something to be ridiculed, both his followers and Christians today see it as a symbol of sacrifice, the forgiveness of sins, and the Passion of Jesus Christ.
Meanings of the Crown of Thorns Tattoo
Crown of thorns tattoos are generally best suited for Christians wanting to express their religious devotion. However, thorns are also sometimes viewed as a symbol of suffering by non-Christians as well.
Tattoos are personal and the crown of thorns may have many associations depending on the intent of the owner of the tattoo, but oftentimes are representative of one or more of a few major themes.
The most common of these symbols include sacrifice, repentance and forgiveness for one’s sins, the promise of everlasting life, and suffering.
Because Jesus wore a crown of thorns on his head during the crucifixion, it is associated with sacrifice. According to Christian tradition, Jesus gave his life willingly.
This sacrifice was required of him by God to repair the relationship between humankind and God. Reparation of this relationship granted humanity the ability to enter the kingdom of Heaven.
This ultimate sacrifice was made out of love, thus the selflessness of the act of sacrifice may be symbolized through a crown of thorns tattoo.
Individuals who deeply value selfless acts may find this tattoo design fitting.
Repentance for Sins
While Jesus’ sacrifice provided humankind with the opportunity to be absolved of their sins, salvation was not possible until these sins were forgiven.
Though the crown of thorns tattoo is not directly associated with sins and repentance, it is sometimes seen as a symbol of human suffering, and the human condition.
Christians believe that human beings are inherently sinful. Though living sin-free is not possible, by repenting for one’s sins, one may be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus is believed to have died on the cross for man’s sins, thus the crown of thorns may symbolize the desire to avoid sin, as well as to repent for one’s sins.
Following the crucifixion, the body of Christ was placed in a tomb for burial. On the third day after his death, he was resurrected by God and ascended to Heaven.
This resurrection represented the salvation of humankind.
By repairing humanity’s relationship with God and restoring the Kingdom of God, human beings were forgiven for their sins and granted access to eternal life.
A crown of thorns tattoo may therefore symbolize the Christian belief in Heaven and an afterlife.
The promise of salvation after this life is integral to Christian identity. For non-Christians, a tattoo symbolizing salvation may represent the promise of rebirth.
In addition to being mocked for wearing a crown of thorns, Jesus is often depicted with blood running down the sides of his face.
Not only was the crown intended to mock Jesus’ title of King of the Jews, but it was also intended to inflict pain where the thorns dug into the scalp.
Though dark, suffering is an integral and unavoidable part of life. Those wishing to express this element of the human condition may opt for this tattoo.
Crown of Thorns Designs
There are no limits on the design options for a crown of thorns tattoo – you are only constrained by your imagination!
Whether you want something traditional or plan to put your own spin on the design, these four popular crown of thorns tattoo designs can help get your creative juices flowing.
Band of thorns
This popular style consists of a band, or ring of thorns traditionally placed around the bicep, forearm, or wrist.
This design can be quite minimalist and is perfect for those who prefer tattoos without any color.
It is also an excellent design to represent the Christian faith, without being as showy as a crucifix.
Cross and a crown of thorns
To represent the crucifixion more holistically, one of the more popular designs is composed of both a cross and a crown of thorns.
The crown may hang off the top of the cross, or be wrapped around the intersection of the two beams of the cross.
This tattoo design looks great almost anywhere on the body, making it a great option for those who have limited placement choices available to them.
Jesus and a crown of thorns
Those wishing to represent their devotion to Christianity may wish to get a tattoo of Jesus Christ with the crown of thorns upon his head.
Some choose to make the face of Jesus the focus. A good tattoo artist can capture the sorrow in his eyes and add details of blood drawn by the crown.
Alternatively, an image of Jesus on the cross, with the crown of thorns upon his head, is another popular option.
Sacred heart and thorns
For something a little more modern and understated, a crown of thorns around the Sacred Heart is a great design choice for this type of tattoo.
In Christianity, the Sacred Heart is representative of Christ’s love for humankind. Adding the crown to the heart emphasizes how Christ’s love translated into sacrifice.
This design looks best with color, making it a fantastic choice for those who aren’t a fan of plain black tattoos.
The Bottom Line
Whether you consider yourself a devout Christian or simply looking for a tattoo with a powerful meaning, the crown of thorns tattoo is an incredibly meaningful option, symbolizing selfless love through sacrifice, the forgiveness of sins, and the chance at everlasting life.