Inked in a variety of bright colors, their intricate, often cartoon-like designs are unmistakable. And while they may be the “trendiest” tattoo of 2018, they’re nothing new to modern society. Hippie tattoos date back to the 1960s when it became more of a counterculture movement that was established by youth rebelling against mainstream values and social norms.
In fact, some of the most notable celebrity hippies, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Grateful Dead all sported some version of it. Still confused? Let’s take a look at the meaning behind this popular tattoo.
What is a hippie?
A hippie is a person who lives in a countercultural lifestyle. Countercultural movements demonstrate rebellion against the status quo, and the hippies were no different. For example, they rejected widespread drug use in favor of drugs such as cannabis (marijuana), LSD, and mescaline. They also rejected the post-war boom culture that emerged after World War I by supporting similar forms of music like blues, jazz and rock ‘n roll instead of more mainstream styles like country music or pop. Other aspects of their lifestyle that set them apart from mainstream culture include rejecting consumerism, following a “naturalist” philosophy which emphasizes love and peace rather than competition and acquiring possessions, and embracing alternative forms of sexuality.
Hippie Tattoos Meaning
While much of the hippie movement has dwindled in popularity today, one trend that seems to be ever-growing is their tattoo choices. While there are many variations, these ten tattoos represent some of the most common:
1. Flower and butterfly hippie tattoos
These designs can be found on the back or arms of many hippies. Sometimes the tattoo is part of a sleeve, or a full back piece. They are believed to give the wearer immunity from illness, strengthen the immune system and are said to bring good luck during moments of difficulty. The brightly-colored flowers symbolize youth and vitality, which symbolize qualities that would allow the wearer to overcome obstacles.
2. Skull tattoos
These are popular designs among outlaw bikers, and have historically been used by both military units and biker gangs. They represent the “death of the old” and the rebirth of a new order, which symbolize themes related to time. They also symbolize liberation (rebellion against established values), rebellion (against authority), and strength. The skull is a traditional symbol of power, sin, death and resurrection which are all aspects of the hippie lifestyle.
3. Band tattoos
These are one of the most popular and common among hippies. They symbolize rebellion, social unity, and a sense of belonging to a group or movement. The most common bands seen with these designs are The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley and The Beatles. Their popularity has increased in recent years as the baby boomer generation gets older.
4. Flower on a stick tattoo
Also known as a road sign, these tattoos are popular among members of the motorcycle community. They represent freedom, strength and peace amongst other things. They have been used as a symbol of rebellion against established authority since the early 19th century and were first seen in the American Civil War.
5. Cross or circle tattoos
These symbols have traditionally been used by Christians to represent faith, patience and submission to God’s will. The hippies saw the cross as an emblem for the counterculture lifestyle, with the flower representing peace. The cross is also used in many different faiths as a symbol of authority or power, which symbolize themes that counter what the hippies stand for.
6. Skull and bones tattoo designs
These are often seen on biker gangs and outlaw bikers, and represent anarchy and rebellion against established laws and authority.
7. Precious metal symbols
These are typically seen on the backs of many bikers, outlaw bikers, and young people. They symbolize freedom, strength and aggression. They are also symbolic of power, which represents themes that mirror the hippie lifestyle.
8. Elephant tattoos
This design has been used by various cultures as a symbol of strength, intelligence and family spirit in many cultures such as Hinduism and Buddhism for centuries. The hippies thought it was appropriate given the themes that they were trying to portray with their lifestyle.
9. Fist and weapons tattoos
These designs are often seen on martial artists and bikers. They signify aggression and power against non-accepting authority, especially police officers.
10. Last but not least, peace signs & flower tattoos
While the peace sign symbolizes the hippie’s opposition to violence and war, the flower represents the hippie’s love for nature, life, freedom and community. Both represent themes that are part of the hippie lifestyle.
If you western culture, check this great cowboy tattoos ideas!