Tattoos with cross designs in them go back a long, long time. Obviously the cross symbolizes certain religious beliefs but there are also many other meanings and types. I will be discussing a couple of them here. This article will take a look at the cross itself as well as the designs and meanings surrounding them.
As mentioned above, probably the first idea that comes to mind when picturing a cross is the religious connotation. All Christian religions and denominations rely on the cross due to the crucifixion of Christ. The cross has come to be synonymous with Christianity. If this is the meaning you want to portray in your cross tattoo design, then you should determine whether it will be just the cross itself or with Jesus. There are also many styles as well, including but not limited to, rugged, three dimensional, modern, holy (with halo or aura) etc.
The Celtic Cross is somewhat similar in design but generally has a large circle connecting the arms of the cross. In Ireland it is thought that Saint Patrick introduced this cross as a segue from paganism to Christianity. When converting the pagans to Christianity he thought to have the sun symbol in the middle of the cross. The Celtic cross is also adorned with scroll work or intricate carvings. This detail makes for a great cross tattoo design. Because of this scroll work it is sometimes classified as a tribal tattoo design.
Maltese Crosses are another popular cross tattoo design. It is a symbol of strength and courage. This cross was used by the Knights during the first crusade. It is also a national symbol of Malta (an island country in the Mediterranean Sea). It has four equal arms with the outside edges of the arms larger and then narrowing down to the center of the cross. Sometimes the outside edges of the cross also dip into the center creating eight points around the cross. These are supposed to be the eight points of courage.
A variation of this design has been used throughout Europe. In Germany it has been called the Iron Cross (the insides of the arms are curved inward) and had been used as a military symbol for decades. In the United States it is been used by bikers and car enthusiasts alike. Sometimes it’s use has been associated with German car buffs (especially the VW bug). In the 1960s this symbol sometimes had a surfer in the center of it and was colloquially called a “surfers cross”, exemplified by “Big Daddy Roth”
This is just a brief overview of some of the major cross tattoo designs. I hope this information helped you in your quest for the perfect tattoo.