The classic heart and dagger tattoo, synonymous with the traditional style tattoo, is a design with deep and varied meanings. In this article, we seek to explore the age-old appeal of the heart and dagger design, tracing it back to its roots in early Christian art while examining its use in modern tattooing.
Meaning of heart and dagger tattoo
Many wonder when looking at this symbol, what does the heart and dagger tattoo mean? The heart and dagger tattoo has two strong images juxtaposed, which perhaps made it such a powerful and enduring symbol.
Dissecting the meaning behind the imagery, we find that the heart serves to represent love, the seat of our emotions, a source of life, and a person’s deepest desires. The traditional dagger symbol usually signifies cruelty, death, sacrifice or betrayal.
The 250 Best Heart Tattoos of the Year
The 250 Best Dagger Tattoos of the Year
Heart and dagger tattoo Meaning 1: Betrayal
Over the years, many have used the heart and dagger tattoo as a symbol of betrayal or devastating grief.
The dagger itself is an ideal metaphor to use in depicting betrayal, as daggers were the weapon of choice for assassins long ago. Due to the knife’s small size and ability to be easily concealed, daggers have grown in popularity among killers. The manner in which the dagger was used to kill the victim only added to the sense of ferocious brutality, hence why we see its appearance in heart and dagger tattoos meant for display a sense of betrayal.
Heart and dagger tattoo Meaning 2: Erzulie Dantor the voodoo spirit
Although often used in Catholic iconography, outside of Christianity the heart and dagger may also represent the voodoo spirit Erzulie Dantor, a bisexual goddess believed to protect women, children and those rejected by society. . Her wrath is feared among practitioners of Haitian voodoo, as she is said to inflict vengeance on anyone who harms those she watches over.
Heart and dagger tattoo Meaning 3: Athame or ritual knife
The dagger symbol also has uses in occult circles where it is referred to as athame. The dagger is used in ritual contexts to “cut the cords” of another person or direct psychic energy.
The dagger represents masculine energy in a ritual, serving to draw the protective circle and to invoke the elemental guardians. For those interested in a more esoteric tattoo, consider the depiction of the Three Swords from the Rider Waite tarot deck.
The origin of the heart and dagger tattoo
The symbol we know in tattooing as “heart and dagger” has its origins in early Christianity emerging in various artworks and designs. This symbol has traditionally been called the “Immaculate or Sacred Heart of Mary” and has been used to represent Mary’s divine love and beauty, as well as her earthly sufferings and imperfections.
In religious symbolism, the dagger going through the heart representing the Catholic Sacred Heart of Mary is seen as the embodiment of Mary’s grief at the crucifixion of her son Jesus.
An excerpt from Luke 2:34-35 may give us a clue as to why this is:
“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and the resurrection of many in Israel, and to be a sign to be opposed against – and a sword will pierce to your soul – until the end that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
The heart dagger tattoo as a traditional design
When considering your heart dagger tattoo design, you may want to display it in a classic traditional style. The tattoo gained its momentum and popularity in the traditional tattoo style and has been depicted in countless different variations in style.
Many of these designs of a heart stabbed with a knife date back to the early 1900s. Designs featuring hearts with daggers have been a classic staple of traditional style tattooing, often associated with the legend of the Sailor Jerry tattoo. and depicted in a traditional tattoo flash.
When the heart and dagger are done in a traditional style, the colors and lines appear bright and bold, the perfect visual aesthetic to complement the power of this symbol. Your best bet is to seek out a quality artist who specializes in traditional style work to help successfully bring your vision to life.
The Heart Dagger Tattoo as a Modern Design
If you are looking for a tattoo with a more modern design and approach, you can find a wide range of styles and variations for the dagger across the heart design.
A popular choice is the slightly modified heart tattoo with swords known as the “3 of Hearts”, which stems from esoteric symbolism such as those seen in the Rider Waite tarot card deck. Instead of using a traditional style dagger, the design depicts three heart-piercing swords.
Although the heart symbol with swords is not a new design, there has been a modern resurgence in tattooing of spiritual and occult symbols presented in various ways. In tarot, the Three Swords card can represent grief, emotional pain, forgiveness, optimism, and eventual release from pain.
If you’re looking for a different take on your heart with a daggers tattoo, consider trying it out in a style you like or with a custom design. Heart tattoos with knives work great as all black designs if you’re not a big fan of the color. There are no limits when it comes to the design you want. When conceptualizing the tattoo, feel free to add any elements that you think would add to the personal meaning or visual aesthetic.
Quality Artists to Explore for Your Heart and Dagger Tattoo
The most important first step in deciding on a tattoo design is consulting an experienced artist. Finding an artist or store that specializes in your favorite style will go a long way in ensuring your new piece will look perfect. Whether you prefer a more “old school” traditional style tattoo or are looking for a more modern and contemporary piece, we’ve got you covered!
To help you along the way, here are some high-quality, experienced artists we recommend for your heart dagger tattoo:
Paul Dobleman of the Spider Murphy Tattoo in San Rafael, CA
Rose Hardy of Kings Avenue in New York
Mike Attack of Taylor Street Tattoo in Chicago, IL
Myke Chambers of Seven Swords Tattoo Company in Philadelphia, PA
Mick Gore of Gore Tattoo in Taoyuan City, Taiwan
Marcus Norrild of Death and Glory in Copenhagen, DK
Nikko Barber of Berlin Ink in Berlin, Germany
Koke Tattooer from La Bottega dei Tattoos in Rome, Italy