The sun, our primary source of life, has always been awe-inspiring. There are many reasons why a sun tattoo might be personally meaningful. The sun has had a religious and symbolic significance in many ancient cultures. Honoring the sun as a giver of life is an ancient and universal impulse, and may explain some of the popularity of sun tattoos.
Tattoo meanings are highly personal, but sun tattoos generally stand for:
Here's a gallery of sun tattoo flash and photos:
The Sun in Art and Religion
Throughout the ages, cultures have tried to explain the sun. Myths detail where the sun came from and most cultures also had apocalypse myths covering what would happen at the end of the time, with the final sunset.
Here's an overview of how ancient cultures viewed the sun:
- The sun is featured prominently in the artwork of many early civilizations.
- The oldest known sundial is more than 6,000 years old and is found in Southern Egypt.
- Stonehenge, famous for its circle of upright stones, was actually once a solar observatory.
- Utu was the sun-god worshipped by the Sumerians as early as 3,000 BCE.
- Shamash, the sun-god worshipped by the Akkadians, was the most powerful god in their culture. Temples were built in his honor. Stories, hymns and art also pay homage to this god.
- Ra is well known to this day as the sun-god of the ancient Egyptians.
- The Greeks had Apollo, who was linked to the sun.
Tribal Sun Tattoos
The Mayans viewed sun tattoos as a way to protect themselves and to show that they were enlightened. They also used sun tattoos to show leadership and as a mark of power.
The Aztecs had 5 sun gods. Their tattoos were used for rituals, placing them in certain spots to show devotion to a particular god. Aztec sun tattoos can range from small, simple tribal patterns to huge circles filled with an incredible amount of detail.
The Navajo, on the other hand, saw sun tattoos as symbols of creation and the destructive power of war. Sun tattoos that feature a clear, human face inside them were used as a form of protection from the darkness in life.
The Taino Indians once lived across the Caribbean Sea in Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican. For these people, tattoos were more than body decorations; they were an expression of faith. The higher the tattoos went on their body, they closer they felt to god. Taino sun tattoos feature a round sun with rounded rays, rather than the traditional fiery rays.
Tribal sun tattoos usually combine the swirls and clear lines of tribal art with the recognizable mark of the sun.
Here's a gallery with tribal suns:
Sun and Moon Tattoos
Sun and moon tattoos are another variation on the sun theme. While adding a moon and some stars can make the tattoo more feminine, it can also bring a new meaning to the tattoo. Just as men and women join, the sun and moon can also pair together. Sun and moon tattoos symbolize a spiritual union of a man and a woman.
A small gallery of sun and moon flash:
Celebrities With Sun Tattoos
- Anastacia: she has a tribal sun combined with an ankh tattoo on her lower back.
- Orlando Bloom: actor with a sun tattoo on his abdomen.
- Henry Rollins: rock star with a sun tattoo combined with the words "Search and Destroy" on his back.
- Corey Taylor: Slipknot singer, has a large sun moon tattoo on his back.
- Godsmack: the image below is what became known as the "Godsmack sun". Godsmack is a heavy metal band that used this tribal sun on the cover of their first album in 1998. This type of sun became very popular as a tattoo design.