Cow Skull Tattoos
There’s something so unexpectedly elegant about skull tattoos.
To some, they may be little more than a grisly reminder that we’re all just meat puppets with haunted skeletons inside.
To others, a skull is a delicate and beautiful reminder of what we all have in common.
The skulls-as-decor movement is nothing new, people worldwide have been adorning their living spaces with skulls and bones for hundreds of years.
While human skulls have their own twisted appeal, we seem fixated by skulls in shapes foreign to our own.
Bird skulls have a peculiar allure, and cow skulls are an enduring classic.
What do you picture when you think of a cow skull?
Maybe a dusty desert house with terracotta colored walls.
Maybe yesterday’s Mesoamerican civilization and the people who have carried its legacy.
You might think of the Balinese people, who’s Indigenous population has always honored cow skulls.
That’s the thing about cow skulls, bull skulls and long horns.
No matter where your references come from, they’re deeply ingrained in the visual mind.
Cow Skull Tattoo Culture
Not everyone has the space for a cow skull wall hanging or a longhorn.
But if you love this aesthetic, there are other ways to embrace the elegant shape of the cow skull.
Cow skull tattoos are gorgeous, and they can be customized to suit your individual personality.
Though the design has always been a staple in tattoo culture, it has recently been thrust into the public eye because of Post Malone’s bold neck tattoo, a cow skull with horns that extend along the sides of his neck.
Malone just got the tattoo because “he thinks it looks cool,” so we’re here to help you out with the history and symbolism if you’d like your tattoo to mean something more than that.
This design can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.
It can accommodate any size or budget.
If you’re looking for something small and sweet, a simple cow skull shape won’t cost too much, take up much space or take too long to apply.
If you’re looking for a statement piece, there are so many ways to add dimension and interest to the basic cow skull design.
But how did cow skulls become so popular as a visual medium for self expression?
Let’s take a deep dive into the history and traditions behind this gorgeous design.
History of Cow Skulls as Decoration
As we’ve established, cow skulls have been part of people’s visual vocabulary for hundreds of years.
This is not unique to any one culture, as many ancient civilizations relied on cows for food and material.
Because of this, many peoples have respect for the cow, and using a cow’s skull for decoration was to show reverence and appreciation.
Indigenous Peoples and Cows
There were no cows in America or Canada before AD 1400, when Christopher Columbus brought cattle over on a boat.
You have likely heard of the Native American “use the whole animal” philosophy when it comes to meat.
This is something that has a long history not only with Indigenous people in America, but in hunting cultures worldwide.
Thus, the people in the “new world” as Columbus referred to it, accepted the cattle with their own traditions in mind.
Before mass meat consumerism, it was important to honor the animals that gave their life so you could be warm and fed.
Killing for meat was something that was done out of necessity, and taking more than what you needed was frowned upon.
Meat was not something you would want to let waste.
Because of this “nose to tail” philosophy when it came to killing animals for their meat, it was important to not let the animal die in vain.
Cow Skulls then became a symbol of gratitude.
Cow skulls have traditionally been decorated with paint by the Aztecs, or hand-carved by Balinese people.
These decorated skulls were often used in rituals, put in a place of honor, or both.
Eventually, non-Indigenous people started thinking these skulls looked pretty neat!
As consumerism took over, cow skulls became a common item for home decor.
This is why you’ll see cow skulls in many places now, whether they have special meaning or not.
If you are going to get a cow skull tattoo, meditate on what the cow skull means to you.
To get the image flippantly is to ignore a wealth of history and symbolism attached to the design.
There are so many symbols being used in a shallow way, and it robs us of something in the process.
So what do cow skulls represent, besides gratitude for warmth and a full belly?
What Does A Cow Skull Tattoo Mean?
As with any skull tattoo design, cow skulls can symbolize a lack of fear when it comes to death.
Embrace the inevitable and live for the now.
Everyone knows about their mortality, but nobody talks about it.
Skulls force people to face reality.
Cows have an association with maternal energy, which can grant you strength and nurturing protection.
Again because of the cows’ maternal and feminine qualities, it has come to represent fertility.
Perseverance and Strength
Some will opt for the more aggressive bull skull for this symbolism, but cows have a gentler strength to them.
It all depends if you’re looking to tap into masculine or feminine energy.
It’s your choice; we all have some of both!
Cow Skull Tattoo Ideas
Getting a tattoo just for the hell of it doesn’t make you a bad person, but with the rich history of cow skulls, you’ll appreciate your tattoo that much more if you tap into the ancestral power attached to it.
Looking for your dream design?
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