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Viking tattoos: myth or reality?

If we were going out on the streets right now and asking people to describe Vikings, they would tell us about tall, burly people with blonde hair and a body covered in tattoos.

The latter trait was made known by the hit TV series Vikings , yet it has long remained out of the popular imagination. We can find clear evidence of this in Viking films , such as the famous 1958 Vikings starring Kirk Douglas.

Did Vikings really get tattoos?

The first question to ask is whether Viking tattoos were part of reality and what evidence there is of their existence. A thousand years have passed since the Viking era and, evidently, no trace remains of the tattoos on the bones. However, various texts with the descriptions of these Viking tattoos have survived to this day .

Halfdan Viking Tattoos

Various chronicles such as that of Ibn Fadlan contain a portrait of the appearance of these Norwegians and the tattoos are one of their most striking features. The 10th century Abbasid traveler wrote: “From tip of toe to neck, each man is tattooed in dark green with designs .

Due to the existence of these written sources, we can conclude that the Vikings tattooed themselves . Furthermore, finds such as that of the princess of Ukok (5th century BC) or that of Ötzi (3,200 BC) show that humans have been applying tattoos for thousands of years.

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Why did Vikings get tattooed?

One of the reasons that historians consider is superstition . As we know, there were a number of Viking symbols that were considered talismans by the ancient Scandinavians. The Valknut, the Vegvísir or the Ægishjálmur are engraved on runestones and carved on weapons and other objects.

For this reason it can be inferred that Viking tattoos included symbols that theoretically gave them protection . A kind of amulets they always wore.

Floki tattoo

Viking tattoos today

Today many are looking for ideas in the ancient Nordic culture to get tattooed. Viking tattoos can help reflect a person’s character or way of being. There is that mental image of strength and determination that is associated with this Scandinavian people.

In turn, the runes convey an idea of ​​eternity . The characters of the Viking alphabet , with their angular and ancestral aesthetic, can be used to engrave a name or phrase on the skin… as long as you are sure of their meaning!

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Furthermore, the geometric figures of Viking art lend themselves above all to the universe of tattoos. Her intertwined and highly detailed designs are exactly what many people look for in a tattoo.