Tattoos have long been a medium people use to pledge their undying love for each other. In the United States, we tend to associate hearts with love, thus a heart design is a popular choice to show affection. Some people have even chosen to get tattoos to commemorate their marriage. Other cultures dictate that a woman be tattooed before she is even eligible to marry. Others use tattooing as a method to attract mates.
Perhaps the origin of marriage related tattooing in North America stems from the devotion tattoo. Devotion tattoos usually involve a heart or some other symbol of love and usually someone’s name. Names don’t necessarily have to be involved though, something else could be used to symbolize the devotee, like a favorite flower or something to do with her interests.
Tattooed wedding rings have been around for centuries, but their modern celebrity status has given them a new lease on being hip and trendy. Back in the mid 1990’s rocker Tommy Lee wed Pamela Anderson of “Baywatch” fame. Unfortunately, the union didn’t last as long as the matching tattooed bands on their ring fingers. Fashion model, Mia Tyler (daughter of Areosmith’s Steven Tyler) and her musician husband, David Buckner also have tattooed bands.
Although tattoos in pace of actually rings sounds extreme and absurd, it may actually have some practical advantages. Some people, like doctors and nurses have professions that require them to wash their hands all the time. A tattooed ring would mean they can do so without having to bother with taking their wedding band on and off repeatedly and risk losing or forgetting it.
Other’s have jobs that have certain risk factors associated with wearing jewelry, like oil field worker, mechanics and others who deal with heavy machinery on a regular basis. Conventional rings can get caught on the machine’s moving parts and cause damage, and maybe even the loss of a finger. The ring finger has a tendency not to heal as well as other parts of the body, so the design may turn out a little blurry.
Not all marriage tattoos have to be permanent to be important. The Hindu religion mandates they couple, especially the bride to be, be decorated with henna tattoos for the ceremony, or their union will not be considered official. The word “mehendi” is often used in place of “henna” and is synonymous with the word “marriage.” Its reddish color is symbolic of good luck and prosperity a new bride is going to bring to the family she is becoming a part of. The designs are usually placed on the hands and feet by the bride’s female relatives during a ritual preformed the day before the wedding. At least one the groom’s hands is usually decorated for the ceremony as well.
In other cultures, a woman is not considered worthy to marry unless she is tattooed because it’s believed if she can’t take the pain of getting extensively tattooed, then she might never be able to stand the even more intense pain of child birth. By the same token, and untattooed man isn’t worth marrying because if her can’t endure the discomfort of getting inked, he is not going to be a good worker so he can’t provide well for his family. He will probably be considered a incompetent warrior.
In many ways, picking out a tattoo design is much like looking for a spouse. Your tattoo with be your ever present companion in good times and bad, in sickness and health, for richer and for poor. Pretty much the same rules apply. Some times a tattoo outlasts the relationship it was meant to celebrate and the two or three more. Much like a marriage gone wrong, divorcing a tattoo will also leave you hurting, broke and scarred.