Werewolf Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Werewolf Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

For horror movie fans, folklore buffs, and students of the supernatural, werewolves have always been a source of fascination/ The lore about these creatures is found in many countries and goes back a lot farther than you think, and so today we thought that we might talk about Werewolf tattoos.

In this article we’ll talk about their history, meanings, and designs, so that if you are considering a Werewolf tattoo of your own then you might get a little inspiration that can help you to make it perfectly your own. Let’s talk about Lycanthropes in the world of skin art!

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What is the History of Werewolf Tattoos?

Werewolf history is very old indeed and while there some contention about their first mention, most believe it was in 2100 B.C. with the tale of Gilgamesh. In this story, Gilgamesh rejects the advances of Ishtar, the Goddess of Love, after hearing that she grew bored of one of her suitors and turned him into a wolf!

Others argue that the first tale of an actual transformation was the story of Niciros, written around A.D. 26 and contained in a text called the Satyricon. Within its pages, it tells of two friends named Encolpius and Gita, who come upon a man in a graveyard who makes a horrifying transformation.

The man urinates in a circle, rips off his clothes, and becomes a wolf, howling and running off towards a nearby city.  The Greeks have their own version of the Werewolf’s origins that involves an Arcadian King, noted for his cruelty.

When he tries to trick Zeus into eating the flesh of a boy that was to be sacrificed, Zeus turns him and his children into wolves. Aside from the previously-listed tales, the Vikings also believed that the Berserkr warriors could become wolves or bears – the name actually means ‘bear shirt’. Needless to say, it’s a tale as old as time!

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What Do Werewolf Tattoos Symbolize?

Werewolf tattoos represent our wild, animalistic nature, just waiting to break free of the human disguise to howl and the moon and wreak havoc as we go.

They also symbolize primal power, as once upon a time, wolves were our mortal enemies, stalking those who made the mistake of setting off alone.

Werewolf tattoos can also represent a mercurial nature. Much like Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, the man or woman who is afflicted with Lycanthropy can change with the full moon (or at will, in some stories), becoming more savage and powerful in an instant.

A lot will depend on how the tattoo is depicted and the owner’s personal view on lycanthropy in general. For some, the power to transform into a mighty wolf was a blessing, though in many of the ancient tales it was a curse that could prevent that person from ever knowing love – out of fear that they might harm them.

As such, the symbolism is not only open for interpretation, but also to artistic manipulation, making Werewolf tattoos quite the fun and interesting option if you love the ancient stories and modern movies about these magical beasts.

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What Do Werewolf Tattoos Mean?

Someone with a foul temper might wear a Werewolf tattoo as a general warning to the world that their mild-manners might be short lived and that others would do well to beware! Werewolf tattoos might also be used as an artistic way to express bipolar mood swings or if you like Viking history, as the mark of a warrior.

Still others might wear the famous visage of Lon Chaney Jr. in his iconic role as ‘The Wolf Man’, as a tribute to the actor and to show their love of horror movies.

It all depends on what you want to say and what you feel that this skin art choice says about you – you might simply love the supernatural aesthetics and that’s okay! It’s your tattoo, so you’re making all of the rules here!

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Characteristics and Styles of Werewolf Tattoos

Werewolves can be depicted a number of ways. One might depict a mighty wolf with disturbingly human eyes, or depict the mid-point of the transformation from man to wolf. Instead of purely a wolf, your own werewolf might be a mix of human and wolf that incorporates the best of both worlds – it’s all up to you!

It definitely pays to come up with the basics of your design and then to take a look at the styles available to you.

While your artist might have the skill to do a photorealistic rendition of one of these supernatural creatures, different styles such as Japanese tattoo style or even bright watercolor can really make your design pop. You might even go with a simple black and white silhouette, showing a werewolf shadow and the moon.

Get creative and have a little fun with it. This is a very, very old tale that spans many cultures, so giving it your own twist and personalizing it completely to you is the name of the game!

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Where Do Werewolf Tattoos Usually Go?

Werewolf tattoos can go just about anywhere that you like, although for really fearsome and detailed depictions, the back is one of the most popular places. Like the werewolf itself, the tattoo is hidden until you decide to show it, and you’ve got a chance to add color and detail to create something truly epic.

That said, the outer arm, shoulder, and the ankle are good as well, and these are also popular choices, though you will have less space to work with.

You can still depict a full werewolf, albeit smaller, or you can focus on partial details and create a fun design, such as the head and claws of a werewolf shown ripping out of your skin. Put your creative focus on it and talk with your artist – you might be pleasantly surprised at exactly what they can help you create!

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Some closing comments on Werewolf Tattoos

In today’s article we’ve talked about Werewolf tattoos, diving deep into the history and lore behind these mythical creatures that have captivated us since the dawn of time. These beasts represent a lot of things, from primal power, to feeling cursed, or even as an expression of one’s love for the horror genre.

It’s pretty versatile, as ancient stories and symbols tend to be. So, if you feel the calling of the wolf and want to own some skin art that is fiercely beautiful and recognized worldwide, then Werewolf tattoos might well be an excellent option for you!

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