Angel tattoos have been slowly but surely gaining popularity over the past few decades and it makes sense when you think about it – an angel tattoo is like having your guardian angel with you all the time.
The word angel comes from the Greek word aggelo, which means to pass along something new or to announce something. The word aggelos stands for the God Acolytes.
Angels are a link between heaven and earth and belong to Judaist, Christian and Islamic traditions.
According to the Bible and the Koran, angels have the following tasks:
- Bring messages to the people, warn them or bring them the word of God.
- Worship God.
- Serve and protect humans.
- Fight evil.
- Carry out God's orders (they do have a free will though, they can choose to obey or disobey).
- Guard heaven and hell.
- Keep track of all deeds done by every human being.
Angel designs are usually pictured with wings, although the Bible doesn't mention angels that have wings. The confusion comes from another kind of supernatural being mentioned in the bible, called cherubs. So the kind of angel tattoos that are so popular nowadays are actually cherub tattoos (see further).
Often, angel tattoo designs are taken from classic art. There is a wealth of angel images in the art of the middle ages and Renaissance and these can be adapted to tattoo images by a skilled artist.
A tattoo of an angel can have the following meanings:
Sometimes people use an angel in a memorial tattoo to commemorate the death of a loved one. According to a common belief system, the dead become angels who protect us. Getting an tattoo in memory of someone is a way of having them with you for the rest of your life.
Angels are often combined with designs of:
- Trumpets or harps
- A fairy
- A cross
- The devil
Angel Wing Tattoos
Rather than a whole angel, some people opt for an angel wings tattoo. The wings can be quite large and ornate, covering the shoulders and or much of the back.
The most popular spot for angel wing designs is between the shoulders, the place where wings would naturally be if humans had them (I wish I had some!). Another popular spot for a smaller version is the lower back.
As mentioned before, cherub tattoos are those that most people call angel tattoos. They are usually naked, have wings, look like a baby angel (usually male) and are sometimes pictured sitting on clouds with a trumpet or bow in their hands. They are the bringers of love.
The best-known cherub is Cupid who makes people fall in love by shooting an arrow through their heart.
The Archangel Tattoo
Archangels are the angels with the highest rank (arch is Greek for chief), the angels that are the closest to god.
The most popular archangel tattoo is one of St. Michael, God's warrior angel. Another famous archangel is Lucifer, who became the fallen angel known as Satan.
These tattoo designs picture the battle between St. Michael and Lucifer:
The Fallen Angel Tattoo
A fallen angel is an angel that has been banished from heaven as a punishment for disobeying God. Angels have free will, so they can choose to do good or bad things. Fallen angels obviously have done something wrong...
The most famous fallen angels (aka demons or dark angels) are Satan, Leviathan and Beelzebub. Typical fallen angel tattoos usually picture an angel with a menacing look, torn wings and sometimes horns, they look like a thug angel.
The Angel of Death Tattoo
Also in the category of dark angel designs is the Angel of Death tattoo. The Angel of Death is usually used as another name for the Grim Reaper, although Angels of Death are usually pictured with wings and the Grim Reaper is not.
There are other angels of death though, such as Satan. According to Roman Catholicism, there is a good Angel of Death (Michael) and an evil one (Samael). They carry the souls of the deceased to Heaven.
Here's a list of celebrities with angel tattoos:
- Justin Timberlake: has a large one combined with the word GUARDIAN on his back.
- Drew Barrymore: has an angel tattoo on her back.
- Melanie C: has the word ANGEL written on her abdomen.
- Nicole Richie: actress and socialite who has angel wings on her back, among many other tattoos.
- Beyonce: celebrity with a praying angel on her left thigh.
- Fred Durst: has an angel on his back.
- David Beckham: has a guardian angel on his back combined with the names of his children. He also has a winged cross in his neck.
- Kelly Osbourne: has angel wings on her upper back.
You are probably interested in our Christian Tattoo Designs as well...