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Gypsy Tattoo Designs, Ideas, & Meanings, with Photos

Updated on January 18, 2016
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Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings and history.

Do You Want a Gypsy Tattoo?

One of the more popular old school tattoos is the gypsy, which ranks up there with other designs such as the anchor, swallow, mermaid, and compass. After decades of popularity, the gypsy remains as popular as ever.

What Is a Gypsy?

Well, over the past 600 years or so, the definition has varied. The original gypsies came from northern India and Egypt. They were a nomadic group who lived on and worked the land to make a living on only what was available to them. This nomadic life required extraordinary creativity and intelligence in order to survive. It is believed that they traveled to Europe somewhere around the 14th century, and over the next six centuries, they would migrate all over the world. Today, the term often refers to a member of a itinerant people in Europe, North Africa, and America, with dark skin and hair who speak Romany and make a living with seasonal work, trade, and fortune-telling.

In a larger sense, the word "gypsy" can describe any nomadic, untethered, wandering, self-sufficient, off-the-grid, free-spirited traveler.


Gypsy Tattoo Design Details

Gypsy tattoos usually portray a beautiful female with traditional details associated with her origins. Some designs depict gypsies as they looked many centuries ago, in traditional garb. They're often portrayed with black hair, dark skin, jewelry, flowers, and heavy make-up. They may also be designed with large feathers and scarves covering their long black hair. You'll see some with only head and shoulders shown while others portray her entire body.

Often, she is shown looking off into the distance, usually in profile, with a star-gazing look on her face. This look holds symbolic importance because it represents the idea that she can see into the future. Some portray the gypsy with a crystal ball for the same reason. If you are looking toward the future or feel that you posses a special ability of foresight, this design may be perfect for you.

Another popular variation portrays her in a pin-up style popular in the mid 1900s. We've seen a resurgence of interest that has created a new school pinup style. Other variations include realistic or cartoon styles. All these options make it a fun tattoo to work with. Remember, you should always consider adding your own personal interpretation of any style.


Gypsy Head Skull or Calavera

We're starting to see variations that combine two traditions: gypsy and sugar skull designs. In this combo, the gypsy is shown with all her traditional characteristics, but not her beautiful face. Instead, a skull is placed where her head once was. The sugar skull (also known as calavera) is used to celebrate Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), a Mexican event that celebrates and honors the lives of the departed. Thus, the gypsy skull tattoo might represent the loss of a loved one.


Gypsy Tattoo Meanings & Interpretations

Of course, this tattoo usually has deep symbolic importance for the women and men who wear it. Individual interpretations vary, but here are some of the common associations:

  • Independence & self-sufficiency
  • Journey & travel
  • Prophecy & vision
  • Good fortune
  • Desire
  • Transience / change
  • Mystery
  • Happiness
  • Female strength
  • Future
  • Fringe-dweller / outsider
  • Spirituality
  • Nature
  • Magic
  • Accomplishment
  • Life's path

Spells, magic, and rituals were a way of life for early gypsies, who are said to have intimate knowledge of the power of nature and the elements. They believed they would find their way if it was meant to be. Many gypsies believed that it was important to live every day as if it were your last. The gypsy tattoo can be motivational, there to remind you of this very fact.

It can also symbolize female power. Gypsies were always viewed as very strong women, independent and down-to-earth. If you are an independent woman, or want to honor and remember a strong woman in your life, perhaps this design is perfect for you.


Customizing the Gypsy Tattoo

You can do a lot to make this tattoo unique and personal. If you want to focus on the gypsy's close relationship with nature, you might incorporate other natural details such as butterflies, flowers, birds, mountains, sky, stars, clouds, or trees. If you prefer to spotlight her magical aspects like a crystal ball or astrological symbols. You might also consider the mood you'd like to capture. Most commonly, she is portrayed with a blank look on her face, but you might want to personalize her expression. You may even see one with her eyes covered: This is the blind gypsy, who does not need eyes to see.


Before You Get Inked

There are thousands of tattoos to choose from, so take your time to do your research before you get inked. Make sure you are 100% sure that this is the one you want. Even with laser removal and cover up, some can't be removed or fixed. You want to make sure that you fully understand what your tattoo represents.

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Gypsy Tattoo Designs

Would You Consider Wearing A Gypsy Tattoo?

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    • bethperry profile image

      bethperry 4 years ago from Tennesee

      Those are some awesome tattoos! That one in black and white ink with the girl wearing the pearls reminds me of Amelia Earhardt!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Beth, your right on. This is known as the "Flying Gypsy". A creative idea and that is Amelia.

    • bethperry profile image

      bethperry 4 years ago from Tennesee

      Cool :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      These are really good, I don't think I could have one on my arm because they would take up a lot of room, I know this as I asked for an indian before I had my dreamcatcher, but I would love one, maybe if I work out? lol! really lovely artwork, and fascinating too, cheers nell

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      woo..those tattoos are very cool. bet Gyspy would love it..what do you say Gypsy?

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      These are so awesome and beautiful Gypsy tattoos, loved all the beautiful photos !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      LW this is another fascinating and beautiful hub. The gypsy tatoos are so unique and I find them awesome! What really interests me as well is the that the symbolism is so positive and yet the Gypsy people are not shown in a positive light on TV or by society - usually because of prejudice! I think many of the crafts - physical and psychic - that these people can teach us, as well as about caring for your own puts them in a very good light and we could learn a lot from them.

      Great hub + voted up!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      These are lovely. I have a hubber friend, Erin, who writes beautiful poetry about gypsies. Thank you my friend...

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Ricky, these gypsy tattoo's are fabulous, I enjoyed reading too!

      I went on a gypsy caravan holiday weekend recently, I really should have got one of these tattoos first!

      Voted up my friend, best wishes

    • BeyondMax profile image

      BeyondMax 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      These are very detailed and some look so beautiful and enchanting!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. These are so colorful. Just fantastic.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      *Nell, thanks again for dropping by. LOL You never know Nell, maybe you could get both, huh? Thanks and take care.

      *UnknownSpy, always great to hear from you. Many thanks. I thought about Gypsy when I wrote it so hopefully she likes it.

      *Kash, always a pleasure to have you by my friend. I send my best wishes to you and thanks again pal!

      *Seeker, thanks for the comment and great question:) I truly don't know. Your right, as a tattoo, the symbolism is very positive. Yet, in the past and today, the life of a gypsy is frowned upon. Everyone has to make a living. They are no different. I guess it is just like anyone else, they have an opinion. I commend them. They have stayed true for 6+ centuries. Really good question though Seeker.

      *AE, always a treat:) I don't know that I know her. You will have to share her page link with me, would love to read them. Once again, thanks Ruby and take care.

      *MM, thanks for stopping by. What a joy! Bet you had a ball. They would have loved to see that Lesley. That would have made their day!

      *Max, my dear friend:) Thanks again for your time and comment. That is a perfect word to describe them, ENCHANTING!

      *Gypsy, I was hoping that you would drop by. They are very colorful. Hope you liked them and hope all my research was in order:)

    • Rocknrudy 4 years ago

      I'm thinking of getting a gypsy sugar skull tattoo as a memorial tattoo for my sister. My question is: are gypsy skull tattoos just for women? Would a guy be able to pull this off??

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Rocknrudy, great question. Absolutely not. In Mexico and others areas, sugar skull tattoos are worn by both men and women. You do see them more on women, but a good sizes percentage of men do wear them. Great tattoo choice and a more then great reason to wear such a tattoo. If it is 110% what you want, get it done.

    • olga 4 years ago

      this was helpful. thanks a lot !

    • tom lee 2 years ago


    • vendetta brittz 12 months ago

      i love skull tatoos so much i wont even consider putting one on my back cause i love beach buggy parties to wear bikinis and show what i love.

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