Viking and Nordic Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning
Viking tattoos are an excellent way of emphasizing themes of adventure, power, hope, and resilience. We’ve discussed some design ideas below, along with a list of popular symbols and their meanings, common placements, and color choices to inspire your next ink.
Viking Tattoo: Symbology and Meaning
Some of the most common meanings associated with Viking tattoos are:
- Free spirit
- Bold and brave
- Warrior spirit
- Nautical spirit
If you’ve always been an adventurous soul at your core, a Viking tattoo would be an excellent representation. To bring out the theme, use bold and bright colors.
A popular design to express this idea is a Viking ship sailing rough seas. You could use it in combination with the star tattoo to add a feel of hope and guidance to the art.
If you’ve always considered yourself a free spirit, a Viking tattoo will help you embody the philosophy in ink for all eternity. Popular designs for this use symbols from the Norse creation myth and pair it with some appropriate sentiment, represented in runes to keep up with the theme.
Bold and Brave
These tats can represent boldness and bravery because Vikings were known to be burly, daring, and adventurous souls. Your new Viking tattoo can express these sentiments to the world and put out a warning sign that you’re not to be taken lightly. A symbol like the Helm of Awe would be an excellent choice for this.
Most people who opt for these tattoos want to showcase their inner warrior. The Vikings of antiquity are documented warriors. If you’re after a tattoo that’ll keep you reminded to fight on, these ink designs should work.
You can emphasize the theme by using a mean-looking raven or the famous Viking symbol, Valknut.
A Viking tattoo tells the world that you’re the kind of person who never compromises on what you feel is rightfully yours. The Vikings believed that they deserved the world, and they weren’t afraid to go after this hard!
If you can relate to this sentiment, then a symbol associated with determination, such as the Vegvisir, should suffice.
Those who share a similar love for the seas can represent their watery obsession with the help of an epic Viking tattoo. Use shades of blue along with a symbol such as the Vegvisir to embody this idea.
Use these popular Viking tattoo designs for some inspiration if you’re stuck for ideas:
You may not know about other religions or mythologies, but thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, almost everyone on the planet knows about Thor, Loki, and Odin at this point. Besides these big three, there are plenty of other Norse Gods who’d make for excellent tattoo subjects:
She’s the Goddess of Love and is associated with ideas of beauty, fertility, sex, and lust. If you’re using a Viking tattoo to represent matters of the heart, then she’s the goddess for you.
Baldr is the Viking God of Light, Joy, and Purity—also one of Odin’s sons. Representing Baldr in tattoo form would mean that you’re inclined toward the truth, and you gravitate toward the happier side of life.
Although he’s yet another Norse god who’s been popularized by Marvel films, most people don’t know much about him. He happens to be the watchmen of the gods and is also called the Shining God. You can use Heimdall for your tattoo as a symbol of protection.
Frigg is the highest-ranking Aesir goddess, as she’s the wife of Odin and mother of Baldr. She’s known to be the leader of gods and is a powerful symbol for femininity. Those who want to pay tribute to their inner goddess should opt for a Frigg tattoo.
Besides the Nordic gods, there are plenty of elements from Norse mythology that would look excellent in tattoo form:
Helm of Awe
This is the most famous Norse symbol and is commonly known as the Viking compass. It’s used as a symbol of protection against the abuse of power. This would make a great symbol for protection and would match well to represent your inner warrior spirit.
A Viking-themed ram tattoo illustrates power, purity, and divinity. This ink can be created in full color and emphasized with other divine Nordic symbols, such as the Triskele—Horns of Odin.
Ravens have featured heavily in Norse mythology. Odin had two ravens that were meant to represent thought and memory. Combine these illustrations with other tattoo symbols associated with knowledge, like scrolls, to illustrate your pursuit for wisdom. It should work especially well for scholars and students.
Valknut is meant to symbolize the afterlife and can be used as a tattoo idea by anyone who wants to represent their appreciation for Norse mythology. It’s especially drawn to the Nordic concept of heaven and hell.
This design is also popularly used to commemorate deceased loved ones. A popular approach would be to write initials or names above the Valknut to symbolize they’ve ascended to glory.
If you want the image of a Viking warrior, you could add a Helm of Awe between his brows to emphasize the theme of bravery.
You can also use famous animals that have close associations with Vikings, either in the background or etched onto the warrior. Animals that would fit the bill here include ravens, wolfs, boars, cats, bears, and rams.
Rune—The Language of Vikings
The Vikings used to use an alphabetical system, known as runes, that looks both ancient and unique. How about writing a message in rune?
These symbols would make for an excellent option when adding symbols to emphasize a Viking theme.
If you created a tattoo using Frigg—the leader of the gods and a powerful symbol for femininity, you could accentuate this point by having words such as “Mother of All,” “Goddess of Gods,” or “Mother to Nature” etched below the image—in rune.
Famous Viking Symbols
The following symbols can be used to visually represent your love for all things Viking:
The ouroboros is the legendary symbol of a snake eating its own tail, creating an infinite loop. There are many remakes of this classical image, but it was arguably popularized by the Viking communities of old. This symbol can be used to create a powerful tattoo that can represent eternity, infinite hope, the endless cycle of births and deaths, and multiverses.
This is a famous symbol representing direction and focus. It makes for an excellent tattoo idea if you want to show the world that you believe in destiny and are hopeful for the future.
Another important symbol of good luck steeped in Viking myths is the troll cross tattoo. It can be used as a symbol of protection, hope, and determination. It’s especially popular among people looking for tats that will keep them motivated as they battle serious illnesses.
Common Colors and Styles
If you’re going for a full-color tattoo, the most common choices tend to be dark blue, deep red, or dark green.
A dark blue color tone can be used when you have a nautical theme for your Viking tattoo. Add contrasting bright colors if you want the art to stand out.
A deep red tattoo looks fierce and should be used when you’re highlighting the warrior aspects of a Viking tattoo.
A dark green background adds to the mystery of tat elements borrowed from Nordic mythology. This color contrasts well with black outlines, which should prove useful if you want to add detail to the ink.
A hyper-realistic style works extremely well when illustrating a Viking warrior or a Norse god. Detail the facial expressions to match the underlying theme. Hyper-realism is achieved by using a lifelike face for your god, combined with realistic color tones and shading.
Large Viking tattoos traditionally look best on your back, chest, bicep, or calf. The smaller symbols or runes can be placed around your neck, hands, feet, forearm, or lower back. Since a large number of these tattoos tend to require a circular platform, your arms and legs generally make for an excellent location.