Scythe Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Scythe Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

If you’re going for something ominous and attention grabbing, you can’t go wrong with a scythe tattoo. In addition to their well-known history as emblems of the Grim Reaper, the scythe has a number of other meanings, such as a representation of the harvest.

The scythe tattoo has often been seen as an emblem of death or loss, but it can also represent a major change in someone’s life. Since the Greek times, the scythe has also been a representation of the harvest and the progression of life.

This article explores the history, symbolism and meaning of scythe tattoos, and the forms this image can take.


What is the History of Scythe Tattoos?

Scythe imagery has been around since Ancient Greece times, as an emblem of the harvest, the reaping of grains.

At the same time, it also became a symbol of death, indicating the end of life. This meaning became more pronounced during the era of the Plagues and Black Death, when the horrors of death were all around people.

There is no record of when scythes became used in tattoos, though they are popular images.

The scythe is a symbol of both fear and comfort, depending on the imagery.


What Do Scythe Tattoos Symbolize?

The most common symbolism for scythes is death, the end of life. However, over time, it has come to have other meanings.

The scythe can symbolize the cycle of life, symbolizing death and the natural order of things.

It can also symbolize the impermanence of life, and thus its value.

Some scythes are also used to symbolize transitions, the changing of a life. It can also symbolize the transitory nature of life and death.

Scythes may also symbolize the strength to cut through obstacles in life, to survive difficult things.

They can also symbolize rebirth, similar to how crops grow, are cut, and grow again.


What Meanings Do Scythe Tattoos Have?

Scythes can have a number of meanings on their own, and other meanings based on paired images.

A scythe can represent the inevitability of death, meaning that a person has accepted death, and death’s role in life and the cycle of the universe.

A scythe can also represent strength. It can represent someone’s determination to cut through a difficult condition or situation.

A scythe may represent a person who has conquered something very difficult, such as an addiction or personal issue.

Some people use scythes to symbolize their transition to a new stage of life. In this case a scythe might mean a person has made a transition into a ‘new life’, and considers this change to be a sort of death and rebirth.

A scythe can also represent the transient nature of life, and a person’s determination to make the best of it, to live the best life possible.

A scythe can also represent a fascination with the darker side of gothic culture.


How Do Images Connected to the Scythe Tattoo Change The Meaning?

A scythe with a dark and menacing Grim Reaper is often a symbol of death and the finite nature of life. It can symbolize the acceptance of the finality of death.

A scythe with a less ominous Grim Reaper may be a way of suggesting that a person has accepted the nature of life and death, and regards death as a natural phenomenon to be respected but not feared.

A scythe with a rose or another flower is more likely to represent the cycle of life and death, and the transition between the two.

A scythe with a banner will have a meaning related to whatever saying is used.

A scythe with a bird may change the meaning, depending on which birds are used. A crow is usually a messenger of the afterlife, but a different bird may possess a different meaning.


Where Are Scythe Tattoos Usually Placed?

There is no specific place where scythe tattoos are usually located.

Forearms are a popular choice of location, as are calves and ankles.

Crossed scythes are sometimes depicted on the abdomen, though single scythes can also be placed on the ribcage.

Miniature tattoos are sometimes found on the hands or the ankles.

Some individuals have chosen to put the scythe tattoo on the shoulder, either under the collarbone or across the shoulder blade.

An interesting and fairly popular location is to have the scythe with the blade over the ear, and the handle either in front of or behind the ear.

As a less common choice, miniature scythes have sometimes been placed along the finger, or on the earlobe.


Styles and Characteristics of Scythe Tattoos:

Scythe tattoos come in many different forms, but they do share some common characteristics:

– They have a long, thin blade connected to a handle.

– The handle is usually slightly curved, sometimes with a secondary, smaller grip point further down.

– The handles are often depicted as being made of wood.

– The blades are usually slightly curved, crescent blades.

Scythe tattoos also come in several different variations:

– Handles can be curved in different directions.

– Some variations depict the scythe as being made of bone or metal, as opposed to wood and steel.

– The scythe can be depicted as a stand-alone emblem, or with other imagery. Common images include:

  • The Grim Reaper
  • Smoke and Fire
  • A banner with a phrase
  • Crescent moon
  • Drops of liquid – often blood
  • Roses or other flowers
  • Animals, such as snakes or birds
  • Spiders and spiderwebs
  • Chains

– Usually done in mono-color pen-and-ink style, but sometimes in color.

– Color tattoos of scythes are also done, usually with reds, oranges or yellows.

– Sometimes they have slogans along with the image.

However you choose to depict your scythe, whether alone or with other images, you can be sure to have a striking tattoo with a myriad of meanings. Whether you celebrate the transience of life, or the cycle of life, or a significant life change, your scythe tattoo gives you a striking image, and an interesting topic of conversation.

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