For the better part of the last century hand tattoos and face tattoos have been the defining demarcation line between the tattoo enthusiasts and the truly hard-core tattoo crowd. You can be covered in a traditional full-piece Japanese kimono body suit, but throw on a suit and you can pass for an ink free civilian. Hands and feet? Not so much. And to be hard-core meant not giving a damn about whether or not the world knew you were tattooed and to caring even less about what said world thought about those tattoos. Hand tattoos were usually reserved for tattoo artists, merchant seaman outside of the Navy, and men with a hard past.
In the past five or six years, there has been an explosion of tattoos on hands and necks in particular. It’s not an action to be taken lightly, as many employers, not to mention most armed services around the world, still frown on visible tattoos. When you think of hand tattoos, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is the “knuckle duster”, a tattoo that spells out a personal philosophy inked over the fingers of two hands and positioned on the tops of the fingers just below the knuckles. A classic of the nautical tattoo genre has sailors with “HOLD FAST” inked across the tops of their fingers. A reminder when working in the high rigging that letting go could well result in death. The tattoo served as a talisman, an amulet of protection, to ward off a sailor plunging to his death to a deck far below, or worse yet, into an icy sea.
Nowadays you can find knuckle dusters on hipsters, bartenders, baristas and even the occasional model, such as Daniel Bamdad.
These are the Top Ten ways we’ve found for individuals to express themselves in eight letters, on eight fingers.
1. HOLD and FAST
First done by sailors. A reminder and a superstition, a tattoo that was inked as a talisman to keep from falling out of the rigging of a sailing ship. Such a fall might well have been crippling or meant death.
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