Hourglass Tattoos: Design Ideas and Meanings

Updated on February 2, 2016
thelyricwriter profile image

Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.

The hourglass is a popular symbol in tattoos, alone or with other elements. Hourglass tattoos are popular in themed tattoos and sleeves.

This article shows you a variety of different hourglass tattoo designs, and discusses their meanings. We hope you can find ideas and inspiration here for your next tattoo.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hourglass tattoo with skull, wings, and shamrockBlue sand in hourglass tattooBlue hourglassCarved wooden hourglass tatttoo"Memento mori""Killing time"locking hourglass"Never Enough"Hourglass with vineSkull, heart, blue rose
Hourglass tattoo with skull, wings, and shamrock
Hourglass tattoo with skull, wings, and shamrock | Source
Blue sand in hourglass tattoo
Blue sand in hourglass tattoo
Blue hourglass
Blue hourglass
Carved wooden hourglass tatttoo
Carved wooden hourglass tatttoo
"Memento mori"
"Memento mori"
"Killing time"
"Killing time"
locking hourglass
locking hourglass
"Never Enough"
"Never Enough"
Hourglass with vine
Hourglass with vine
Skull, heart, blue rose
Skull, heart, blue rose

Symbolism

Men and women wear an hourglass tattoo for its decorative value, but its main value is as a symbol. The hourglass, much older than the clock, has been a symbol of time for many centuries.

Time is precious, and it is limited. Many of us don't value time like we should until it is too late. One day or another, time, just like the sand in the hourglass, will run out. The truth is, time goes by in a blink of an eye. Sometimes, we may need to be reminded how valuable our time really is. The hourglass tattoo is the perfect reminder.

The hourglass tattoo is an excellent choice for any man or woman who values life. Many of us take life for granted, and forget life is really a gift rather than a privilege.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"This will pass"Shattered hourglassMom and Dad hourglass tattooLocked hourglassHourglass with candlebleeding face in hourglass"No time like the present"Heart in hourglassHourglass with flowersRed sand with wavesHourglass with red roses
"This will pass"
"This will pass" | Source
Shattered hourglass
Shattered hourglass
Mom and Dad hourglass tattoo
Mom and Dad hourglass tattoo
Locked hourglass
Locked hourglass
Hourglass with candle
Hourglass with candle
bleeding face in hourglass
bleeding face in hourglass
"No time like the present"
"No time like the present"
Heart in hourglass
Heart in hourglass
Hourglass with flowers
Hourglass with flowers
Red sand with waves
Red sand with waves
Hourglass with red roses
Hourglass with red roses

Meanings

The hourglass tattoo can symbolize time, and also so much more. Your hourglass tattoo can represent anything that you want it to, but keep in mind that the world at large will be reminded of the meanings below.

  • Life. Because death gives life meaning.
  • Death. The sand runs out.
  • Inevitability. Don't think the sand won't run out on you too.
  • Energy, power. The sand moves downhill and lets nothing stop it.
  • Balance, new beginning. An hourglass can be turned.
  • Life's cycles: Each cycle has a beginning and an end.
  • Transience, ending: This too shall pass; neither joy nor misery is permanent.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hourglass design on a tomb in LisbonHourglass with plantsSkulls in hourglassShattered hourglassHourglass tattoo"Memories""Time Heals All Wounds"Hourglass with clockworkShape-shifting hourglassColorful hourglass tattooFace in hourglass
Hourglass design on a tomb in Lisbon
Hourglass design on a tomb in Lisbon | Source
Hourglass with plants
Hourglass with plants
Skulls in hourglass
Skulls in hourglass
Shattered hourglass
Shattered hourglass
Hourglass tattoo
Hourglass tattoo
"Memories"
"Memories"
"Time Heals All Wounds"
"Time Heals All Wounds"
Hourglass with clockwork
Hourglass with clockwork
Shape-shifting hourglass
Shape-shifting hourglass
Colorful hourglass tattoo
Colorful hourglass tattoo
Face in hourglass
Face in hourglass

Hourglass Tattoo Designs

Hourglass tattoos can be designed in different ways, with different symbols, elements, and decorations, in solid black ink or with splashes of vivid color. The hourglass itself may be wood, steel, blown glass, or of any material. Although the hourglass usually holds sand, with hourglass tattoos, you may also see water, or even blood.

Hourglass tattoo designs might include clocks. They often include flowers, and not just because flowers are pretty: flowers, like human life, are transient, beautiful only for a little while. A tattoo design might include skulls, or a half-burned candle, suggesting that we will all face death at some point. The hourglass may have the wings of a bird or a bat, showing time flying by, and reminding us to value what time we have. Another variation is the broken hourglass, which may represent pain, anger, disruption, early death, or the dream of an escape from time.

Hourglass tattoos can also be designed with quotes or inspiring words. They may include banners saying, "Don't Let Time Pass You By," "Carpe Diem," "Tempus Fugit," or "Time Heals All Pain."

With so many different options, you should be able to find an hourglass tattoo design that fits your personality. The different designs in this article give you an idea of what is available, plus you can pick up some ideas for your own hourglass tattoo!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hourglass with camelliaWinged hourglassNautical-themed hourglassHourglass with snake“Can’t let this life pass me by”Wooden hourglass with blue skullsWinged hourglass“Tempus Fugit”Ornate wooden hourglassHourglass with dressmaker’s dummy
Hourglass with camellia
Hourglass with camellia | Source
Winged hourglass
Winged hourglass
Nautical-themed hourglass
Nautical-themed hourglass
Hourglass with snake
Hourglass with snake
“Can’t let this life pass me by”
“Can’t let this life pass me by”
Wooden hourglass with blue skulls
Wooden hourglass with blue skulls
Winged hourglass
Winged hourglass
“Tempus Fugit”
“Tempus Fugit”
Ornate wooden hourglass
Ornate wooden hourglass
Hourglass with dressmaker’s dummy
Hourglass with dressmaker’s dummy

Don't Rush to Get Inked!

Before you choose your hourglass tattoo, or any tattoo, be sure to take the time to research it. Make sure that you completely understand what it represents and stands for. Men and women that get inked on an impulse usually regret their tattoo later on down the road. You don't want to make this same mistake. Remember, you are going to wear this tattoo for the rest of your life.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hourglass with wingsDying bird with hourglass“To see a world in a grain of sand”Hourglass with red wavesShape-changing hourglassHourglass with skull and lotusBlue hourglassHourglass in bat-winged coffinHourglass tattoo on hand “All my life I’ve sought something I cannot name.”
Hourglass with wings
Hourglass with wings
Dying bird with hourglass
Dying bird with hourglass
“To see a world in a grain of sand”
“To see a world in a grain of sand”
Hourglass with red waves
Hourglass with red waves
Shape-changing hourglass
Shape-changing hourglass
Hourglass with skull and lotus
Hourglass with skull and lotus
Blue hourglass
Blue hourglass
Hourglass in bat-winged coffin
Hourglass in bat-winged coffin
Hourglass tattoo on hand
Hourglass tattoo on hand
“All my life I’ve sought something I cannot name.”
“All my life I’ve sought something I cannot name.”

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        j l s xox 

        5 years ago

        Kool

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        5 years ago from West Virginia

        Bill

        Nanderson

        Rosemay

        KJ

        Gypsy

        I want to thank you all for taking the time to comment and view this article. KJ, I am behind you. I wish I had you here to guide me through it all. I thank you sincerely though. Time is a great value, more then many of us acknowledge. Always use it wisely, the hourglass.

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 

        5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

        Now these are colorful and interesting.

      • kj force profile image

        kjforce 

        5 years ago from Florida

        thelyricwriter....We can assume these are done in a " timely" manner....

        they are beautiful photos though and I don't mean to make light of the hub..you are doing a great job on the subject...I still say" Coffee Table" book..keep your writings safe for further use...honest...

      • Rosemay50 profile image

        Rosemary Sadler 

        5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

        Wow such varied and colourful designs.

        So true, we forget how valuable time is, it slips by all too quickly and seems to go even quicker as we get older.

        This is a good tattoo to remind us of how precious time really is.

        Awesome Ricky

      • nanderson500 profile image

        nanderson500 

        5 years ago from Seattle, WA

        Agree, these look very cool. Great pics! Voted up and interesting.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Now those are cool! They get the billybuc seal of approval, as does your hub. :)

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