A popular subject for beautiful, colorful tattoo designs, gypsies have a mystic and colorful history.
Descendants of the original Indian travellers who arrived in Eastern Europe after the downfall of the Byzantine empire in the 14th and 15th centuries, the gypsies called themselves the Lords of Little Egypt. The word Egyptian was later contracted to form the slang Gyptians, and eventually Gyppos or Gypsies.
More properly known as the Romani people, gypsies were a nomadic group who lived off the land using only what was available to them. As they wandered from place to place, they peddled their assorted trinkets and wares and read people’s fortunes.
Such a lifestyle required a great deal of intelligence and creativity, but it also afforded the gypsies maximum freedom and mobility.
Over the next 600+ years, the gypsies have migrated all over the world.
The Gypsy Tattoo — A History of Mystique
Today, the term gypsy often refers to a member of any nomadic collection of people in Europe, North Africa, and America, usually with dark skin and hair.
Many still speak the Romani language and survive on seasonal work and trade, and some continue the fortune telling tradition.
Concepts associated with the gypsy culture and lifestyle include:
- A free spirit
- Nomadic life
- Well-traveled people
- An untethered and free-to-wander lifestyle
- Living off the grid
- Life as an outsider
- Contentment and happiness
Spells, magic, and rituals were a part of the early gypsies’ lives, and they are said to have possessed intimate knowledge of the power of nature and the elements. They believed what was meant to be would be. Many gypsies believed that it was important to live every day as if it were your last.
These beliefs carry on in the hearts and lives of many gypsies still today—foundational ideals for some and daily practice for others.
These beliefs are the basis for deeper meanings that inspire fantastic body art and tattoo designs.
Gypsy tattoos can also symbolize female strength. Gypsy women were always viewed as tough, passionate, independent, and down to earth, which makes the gypsy tattoo a great choice to express your own independence, or to pay respect to an inspirational woman in your life.
Popular Gypsy Tattoo Design
Gypsy tattoos usually portray a beautiful female with dark skin and black hair in traditional dress who wears accessories indicative of her gypsy heritage, which often include:
- Heavy makeup
- Large feathers
- Colorful head scarves
The most common gypsy tattoo designs depict only the woman’s head and shoulders, although some are full-body drawings.
She is usually shown in profile, looking off into the distance with a far-away, star-gazing look on her face, which is said to represent the ability to see into the future.
Some gypsy tattoos also portray the woman with a crystal ball to further emphasize this concept of foresight.
Gypsy women were also commonly used within the pin-up tattoo genre of the mid-1900s. This style has seen something of a resurgence in recent years, with a little modernity thrown in for good measure—a great opportunity to add some individuality to the design.
Free and Untethered—Get a Custom Design
The wide range of design possibilities and diverse meanings meet, making gypsy tattoos amazingly flexible vehicles for personal expression.
The dream of self-determination, a need for freedom and individuality, creativity, and the courage to go out into the world and live life on your terms—all of these seem to come together in gypsy tattoos, which make them great subjects for custom tattoos designed just for you.
If you’re serious about your gypsy tattoo, and the stock designs seem to be missing something you feel is important, a custom design is probably right for you.
Click here to get the conversation about your custom gypsy tattoo design closer to reality.