Unalome Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Unalome Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Buddhism and skin art have been close friends for a long time. Many symbols and sayings from this non-theistic religion and philosophy have captivated us for their knowledge and wisdom and through skin art, we can show that we embrace them and share them with the world.

This brings us to a particular symbol called the Unalome. What does it mean? Well, today we’re going to explore Unalome tattoos, their history, meanings, and designs, and tell you exactly that! Let’s talk about Unalome tattoos and the profound message which they carry!

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What is the History of Unalome Tattoos?

Buddhism was established over 2500 years ago and has close to 500 million followers to this day. It’s not hard to understand why, either. Buddhism has taught us things like the wisdom that the useful part of a wheel or a vase is not the item itself, but the emptiness inside!

There are also famous symbols and one of these is called a Unalome, which looks rather like a line that travels down, zigging and zagging, until finally culminating into a circle that ends on the path by circling ever smaller within itself. The circle, however, is the beginning of a personal journey.

The symbol teaches that each of us starts within the spiral, suffering and making mistakes until we escape it and then floundering our way through various trials until we reach our final transcendence. Variations in the symbol are common, as each Unalome is the journey of one individual, making the symbol a metaphor for your own life.

Through 2500 years of history this symbol has endured and understandably, it has become quite sacred. Some even consider it distasteful when it is worn frivolously, but for those who understand it, it’s a profound symbol of the trials and tribulations of existence that shape and teach us until we are ready to transcend.

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What Do Unalome Tattoos Symbolize?

Unalome tattoos represent the tattoo owner’s personal journey to enlightenment and serve to remind both the owner and those who look upon it that the path to enlightenment is not an easy one. Along the way, suffering and self-doubt are always present, seeking to slow us when we long to transcend.

While each starts with a spiral, the path that the drawn-in lines take from there is deeply personal, so no Unalome needs to be the same. It’s meant to be something much more personal and should be meaningful to the owner. It also symbolizes the perspective that you need to take to be truly enlightened.

When you look at the symbol and realize that you are part of the universe and that in the scheme of things, suffering is not only to be expected but is actually trivial, then it provides a freedom of sorts.  The Unalome is all about realizing that you are on a journey and that enlightenment is the most important thing.

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What Do Unalome Tattoos Mean?

Unalome tattoos might mean that the owner has Buddhist beliefs, but not always. Buddhist teachings are famous around the world and many of us keep a saying or a symbol, just because we recognize and appreciate the wisdom behind them. That said, the Unalome is generally worn by those who understand what it represents.

When you see this tattoo on someone, it typically means that they realize that the path to enlightenment is a perilous one, but they also understand that enlightenment is the focus and that suffering is a teacher, not a tormentor. It’s an empowering worldview, neatly summed up in ink on someone’s body.

While it could simply be worn for aesthetics, this almost never happens, as the Unalome is considered to be a sacred symbol and is not worn trivially, so in all but a handful of cases, when you see this symbol then you are looking at the tattoo of someone actively seeking enlightenment and meaning in their lives.

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Characteristics and Styles of Unalome Tattoos

Unalome tattoos are typically fairly basic, although they don’t have to be. The basic shape form that starts with a spiral, followed by a line climbing up towards the skies may be inked in in a simple, black and white design, or one could weave in colors or other symbols as they like.

Keep in mind that it is meant to represent your own personal journey towards enlightenment and with this in mind, you really can’t go wrong. We do recommend, however, that you try to keep the design simple. Part of the message of the Unalome is seeing how uncomplicated the journey really is.

Thus, if you add too much to it, then you might inadvertently obscure the message of simplicity and perspective being the key to the doors of enlightenment.

Ultimately, of course, it is up to you, though if you’d like to retain the original ‘message’ of the symbol then you might want to keep it simple, except perhaps for custom colors.

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Where Do Unalome Tattoos Usually Go?

Unalome tattoos are often displayed on the upper or the outer arm, or you might go with the ankle, but you are not limited to these locations. Some may choose to place it somewhere more intimate, such as the hip, so that only a select few will even know that it is there.

You could even hide one in a backpiece or simply a larger design anywhere else on the body. It’s an expression of personal philosophy about life, so how public or private it is going to be is really up to you.

That said, most people will place it somewhere that it will be seen, as a way to show their dedication and to help inspire others who are struggling along on their own path.

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In closing

As you can see, the Unalome communicates a complex message in a simple, elegant way. Depicting the struggles of an individual, through trials and suffering, all of the way to the enlightenment that eventually comes from patience, endurance, and love.

If you love Buddhist precepts and wish to ink a reminder on your body that suffering is trivial when one learns to detach themselves, then this 2500 year old symbol sums it up quite gracefully.

It’s the wisdom of the ages, all packed-up and portable, waiting for those who understand it to benefit from it’s simple wisdom!

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