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The Tattoo Encyclopedia

The Tattoo Encyclopedia

A Guide to Choosing Your Tattoo

A unique illustrated reference on the origins and meanings of nearly one thousand tattoo symbols that serves as a guide for choosing a personal image and provides a fascinating look at the tattoo as a work of art.

Tattoos continue to move into the mainstream and grow in popularity with each passing day. For people contemplating getting a tattoo, however, the choice of images can be overwhelming. A comprehensive, informative exploration of the colorful world of tattoos, The Tattoo Encyclopedia presents concise descriptions of symbols both common and unusual and sheds light on their historic, religious, and cultural significance.
Organized in a convenient A-to-Z format, cross-referenced, indexed by category, and illustrated with three hundred samples of authentic tattoo line art, this book features a stunning array of images ranging from ancient Buddhist and Chinese designs to those sported by twenty-first-century bikers. The definition of each symbol includes the widely accepted interpretation based on historical fact and cultural source, as well as various interpretations that have developed across different cultures and time periods.
Whether choosing a personally significant tattoo, wanting to learn more about a symbol, or simply being interested in tattoos as a form of art and body decoration, readers will discover the richness of tattoo culture in The Tattoo Encyclopedia.
Choose a format:
  • Touchstone | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743223294 | 
  • August 2003
List Price $16.95
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Read an Excerpt



The tiny acorn is an ancient representation of life and birth. In a literal sense, it is a seed that eventually grows into the mighty OAK TREE. In Scandinavia it was sacred to THOR and was used as a symbol of fertility and immortality. In an allegorical sense, it is unborn power and fruitfulness waiting to be released.


An aegishjalmar can take on many different forms, but in general each is composed of the same small building blocks of ancient Norse RUNES. They begin with a simple cross in the middle and grow from there. Frequently they are used as... see more

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