Discover Many Millennia of Meaning
In the world of religious symbols, crosses have been showing up in archaeological
discoveries that date back to years that are far more ancient than the birth
of Christ and Christianity. The cross has been revered and modified –
reinvented over and over again – by a great deal of the world’s
religions. For tattoo seekers who aim to use the art to bear witness of their
spiritual lives, whether Judeo-Christian or not, it may be wise to learn about
the wide selection of cross tattoo designs that abound in tattoo parlors across
the country and world.
Choosing A Cross Tattoo Design
Often, the hardest phase of getting a tattoo isn’t the physical pain
of application, but the mental confusion that erupts when trying to decide on
the final tattoo design. Because tattoos are permanent rather then temporary
is important to make an informed decision. There is an incredible variety of
cross tattoo designs to choose from including Celtic crosses, tribal crosses
and gothic crosses. To aid you in your journey, here are 24 different cross
tattoo patterns that you could choose to make your own.
Christian Inspired Cross Tattoo Designs
- The Latin Cross. This is the simple cross most
popular today, with a long vertical line with a smaller horizontal line intersecting
it about 1/3 of the way down. For a Latin cross tattoo design, you might consider
one that has a wooden appearance. Other variations include adding shamrocks
if you’re Irish, flames if you’re Pentecostal or Charismatic;
wing and praying hands also go well with the Latin cross, especially in memorial
- The Cross of Triumph. Similar to the design of
the Latin cross, the Cross of Triumph adds a large circle to the base with
the outline of an upside-down T inside. This cross is a symbol that testifies
to the universal triumph of the Gospel throughout the world.
- The 3-Step Cross (or the “Graded
Cross”). This cross takes the Latin cross and adds 3 steps
at the bottom. From the top down, these steps signify faith, hope and then
- The Crucifix. The Crucifix takes that traditional
Latin cross and proclaims the image of Christ’s crucifixion and death.
Most commonly, the cross of the crucifix is wooden. This is a popular symbol
in the Catholic faith.
- The Russian Orthodox Cross. This icon of the
Russian Orthodox Church is similar to the Latin cross, but it simply has added
2 more lines. One is a smaller horizontal line above the original horizontal,
plus an additional line running diagonally (sloping down from the left to
the right) placed below the original horizontal line.
- The Tau Cross. This was the founder of the modern
cross, and was as popular in the ancient history of Christianity as the Latin
cross is today. But, instead of making a cross, the design of the cross is
a capital “T”. It’s name, Tau, is the Greek word for the
- The Crusader’s Cross. To visualize the
Crusader’s Cross, imagine four capital T’s. Then, place those
four T’s together, each facing one of the four directions (N, S, E or
W), with the base of each T meeting in the middle. Worn by many Crusader knights,
this cross was actually composed of a total of five different crosses, each
one signifying one of the wounds Christ suffering during the crucifixion.
- The Maltese Cross. The Maltese cross is created
by combining four special triangles (which are more like a double lined forked
V) joined at their apexes. Also known as an 8-pointed star, this design also
dates back to the time of the Crusades. It was worn by the order of the Hospitallers,
who later moved their headquarters to Malta.
- The Celtic Cross. Also known as the Cross of
Iona, this design was popular among early Christians in Brittania, and spread
to the rest of Europe widely in the 6th century A.D. In it’s simplest
form, the Celtic cross is like a Latin cross with a small circle surrounding
the arms’ intersection. This design is incredibly popular in Celtic
tattoos and tribal designed armbands. Some tattoo artists and flash galleries
have some very impressive and intricate Celtic cross designs available.
- The Anchor Cross. Popular among sailors and maritime
professionals, this cross design actually originated in Egypt. However, early
Christians adopted this sign as their own, and used it often enough that it
is common to the Catacombs.
- St. Andrew’s Cross. The Cross of Saint
Andrew is shaped like an “X” with arms of equal length intersecting
at their centers. St. Andrew, like the Apostle Peter, didn’t deem himself
worthy to be buried on a cross identical to Christ’s.
- The Resurrection Cross. This cross is based on
the structure of the Latin cross. However, it is of wooden construction, and
has a purple robe draped over the horizontal arm, a crown of thorns perched
across the top, and a wooden rectangle bearing the inscription “I.N.R.I”
(which translates loosely to “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, King of the
Jews”). This particular cross design has an Easter celebratory tone
to it, and could easily be paired with a separate tattoo of a cave tomb with
the stone rolled away.
Popular Non-Christian Crosses
- The Greek Cross. Also known as the equilateral
cross, this design dates back quite a long time ago. In the Chaldeao/Assyrian
it symbolized the sky and the god Anu. This cross has also been associated
with sun-worship throughout history.
- The Native- and Mesoamerican Cross. The cross
showed up quite often in the history of tribes across North and South America.
Generally used to represent the four winds, or the tree of life, it also had
religious significance with many of their gods.
- The Chinese Cross. In China, the cross symbol
has been most closely associated with the Chinese ideogram for the word “earth”.
As a matter of fact, in Chinese legend, there is a saying that goes: “God
fashioned the earth in the form of a cross”.
- The Ankh (or “The Handled Cross”)
Popular in ancient Egypt, the Ankh held strong cultural significance, and
is often interpreted as the key of life. In Egyptian tomb paintings, the gods
used the ankh to awaken the souls of the dead to a new life.
- The Tau Cross. This cross falls into both categories,
simply because it was used both by Christians and pagans in their religious
symbolism. The Tau or T shaped cross was thought to represent the hammer of
Thor. In ancient Mayan inscriptions, there are pictures of people in the act
of worship and adoration of a T shaped cross with a bird perched upon the
horizontal arm. This was also the cross and emblem of the god Tammuz.
- The Gammate Cross. Also known as the swastika,
this symbol is hardly restricted to its history in WWII and the Nazi party.
Along with the equilateral cross, this symbol can be traced back to very distant
times. It appears in nearly every single culture and religion throughout history,
from the Gauls to the Hindus of India. It can also be found throughout the
continent of Africa, and in Mesoamerican history.
- Gothic Crosses. Available in many different variations,
the Gothic cross is usually dark Germanic in style and is commonly formed
of wrought iron. Popular in the gothic and vampire cultures, these designs
are reminiscent of Anne Rice’s New Orleans tales.
- The Aztec Cross. Perhaps more similar to a four-petal
flower, the Aztec cross may have been associated with astronomy and the appearance
of eclipses. It was also shown as a cross with a square center with four trapezoids
facing in the four directions. It’s similar to a simplified version
of the Maltese cross.
Whether you’re looking for a Christian or non-Christian tattoo design,
a cross might just be what the doctor ordered. As armbands, anklets, lower back
or hip tattoos, crosses can’t go wrong. If you choose a cross design,
you can rest assured that you’ve chosen a timeless, historical symbol
to symbolize your faith and individuality!
Show me more Cross Tattoo Designs