Trishul Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Trishul Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

When most of us see a trident, we tend to think of Poseidon from Greek myths or even the Devil’s pitchfork – but the three-pronged weapon has a much older history than that – close to 8000 years!

Associated with Shiva and the religion Shaivism, the Trishul is a popular tattoo choice for those faithful to these beliefs, and today we’ll take a closer look so that you can get a taste of the deep symbolism behind this very personal choice for your ink. Let’s talk about Trishula Tattoos and what you need to know!


What is the History of Trishul Tattoos?

The Trishul, also called ‘Trishula’ is the weapon of Shiva, who is believed to be the creator, the destroyer, and the self in Shaivism – a religion that is believed to be more than 8000 years old!

The Trishula itself is a Trident, which seems fitting for a deity with 3 main aspects, and such a weapon definitely lends itself towards some truly stunning skin art. So, how old are Trishula tattoos, anyways? Therein we run into a bit of a mystery.

It’s not known how long tattoos have been inked-on and proudly worn in India – this is still a closely guarded secret. That said, we can definitely state that the practice is several hundred years old.

We do know that the first tattoos of India were primarily used to indicate tribal affiliations and social caste standing but the practice has evolved for some time now. Needless to say, the practice of Trishul Tattoos is popular for a reason… it has a very long history behind it.


What Do Trishul Tattoos Symbolize?

Trishul Tattoos symbolize power and protection – both as protection from the divine and protection from the SELF as divine. While men usually wear Shiva wielding the Trishul, this weapon is also said to be used by the goddess Durga, but the symbolism behind the weapon is the same – it is an empowerment of the divine and the self.

Aside from self-empowerment, the Trishul is also said to warm off evil and to help their owner in resisting temptation, and this is a power that carries through many worlds, as the Trishula was said to wield power in the heavens, the earth, and in the underworld.

In the modern day the meaning is much the same as it has ever been. It is a bold statement saying that its owner is faithful to Shaivism and it’s tenets and that they wear their promise in beautiful skin-ink for all the world to see.


What Do Trishul Tattoos Mean?

Trishul Tattoos mean that one is faithful to Shivaism. While some owners certainly just appreciate the art, with symbols such as Shiva and Durga’s Trishul this is a subject to be careful with.

Yes, you can tattoo anything that you like on your body, but it’s rather like tattooing a cross on yourself or a crucifixion scene when you don’t believe in Christianity – it can be done for arts sake, but it could lead to some confusion or even contention from the people who actually subscribe to this faith.

For ‘Saivas’ or ‘Shaivites’, the followers of Shaivism, Trishul Tattoos represent a religious dedication towards the religions moral tenets and also towards the development of the self – with practices such as Yoga often being involved towards this inner development.

As such, the most common meaning of Trishul Tattoos is to mark those who believe in Shiva or Durga or to express a belief in the tenets that are taught with this religion.  


Where Do Trishul Tattoos Usually Go?

When a tattoo is a statement of faith or philosophy, it’s placement and sizes are going to be limited or empowered based on the popular acceptance of the religion. As Shavism is incredibly old and still practiced around the world, Trishul Tattoos tend to be placed where they may be easily viewed.

Large or small tattoos on the outer arm are quite popular, usually on the upper arm, just under the shoulder, and backpieces are also quite popular – allowing for a lot of detail to really make for a stunning design and proclamation of the owner’s belief and faith.

That said, many are also placed in spots that are hidden, such as the hip or the ankle, as faith doesn’t have to be public to be powerful, and because many choose to keep their own personal beliefs private from those who are not close to them.

Ultimately it will depend on how much conversation you wish to have about your own beliefs, as a remarkable tattoo like a Trishula will certainly attract notice and curious comments for the story behind your beautiful ink.


Characteristics and Styles of Trishul Tattoos

 The most common Trishula tattoos are done in a style that looks quite similar to many tribal tattoos. You have a lot of curves and solid black designs, weaving about the trident, though there are some basic forms rules that it follows for you to build upon.

This doesn’t mean that you are limited to a tribal-type design, however, and some have incorporated more colorful styles to make some truly beautiful pieces of work.

Often the color schemes will have a balance in them – with red and blue used equally in a number of examples – so you’ll want to find your base design and we recommend that you spend a good amount of time deciding on the color scheme.

This will help to make sure that your ink is a perfect fit as an expression of faith, artistry, and your own unique spirit as portrayed on your body. Take your time with it because this beauty can last a lifetime!


In closing

Whether you are trying to express your faith, philosophy, or simply a love of the history behind the images of Shiva or Durga, Trishul tattoos are a spiritual and cultural type of skin art that will definitely make a statement.

With over 8000 years of history, it’s a powerful choice, so take your time with the design. Will you show Shiva or Durga wielding it, or will the weapon be alone? Choose carefully – after all, the Trishula is ultimately the weapon of the self, and your choices will make it uniquely an expression of who you really are!  

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