Gypsy Tattoo Designs, Ideas, & Meanings, with Photos
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
- Transience / change
- Female strength
- Fringe-dweller / outsider
- 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.