Vampires have been around in human folklore and myth for thousands of years, even though the word itself wasn’t coined until 1734. Over time they’ve evolved from terrifying nocturnal spirits to romantic figures such as Dracula and Lestat. The modern re-imagining has given us a wealth of vampire fiction to enjoy – including Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. Movies have been similarly re-imagined, with classics such as Nosferatu and Dracula given a new lease of life on the big screen.
Vampire tattoos can mean a number of things. They can be symbols of fear and evil or they can be interpreted as a sign of the wearer’s attraction to dark forces and an interest in the occult.
Vampires have been seen as evil spirits who seek blood for sustenance since ancient times, and their image has become weaker over time – up until Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897, which cemented the vampire as a suave figure of sex and seduction.
Vampire tattoos are often filled with imagery which captures the essence of vampires – blood, bats, ravens, porcelain skin, dark outfits and long fingernails. However they can also be an expression of individuality or tribute to favourite characters or authors.
Vampire tattoos have a variety of interpretations, but in general they can be seen as a sign of mystery and sexual appeal. Its figures are often depicted with alluring features such as sharp fangs, white skin and dark clothes – these qualities are popular tattoos, with many designs depicting them. Similarly dark tattoos can express a fascination for the occult or acts of evil, so these too are common choices among tattooed vamps.
The most classic vampire tattoos draw their inspiration from Gothic literature and folklore, with images such as bats, coffins and blood often featuring heavily. The image of Dracula is also popular – the count’s sharp teeth, pale skin and clothes made of black wool are all ideal options for anyone looking to capture some spooky spirit in their ink.
Vampire meaning in different cultures
As you’ve no doubt noticed if you’re reading this article on vampire tattoo meaning , vampires have undergone something of a makeover over the years. Whereas
But what makes us so obsessed with these undead legends? What is it about the vampire that we find so compelling, terrifying or romantic? Here’s a few theories on why vampires are engrained in our collective consciousness.
Vampire myths predate Christianity – Many of the most common vampire traits were prefigured by Egyptian, Greek and Roman mythology. It was difficult to kill a vampire with sunlight, for example. Some scholars believe that the story of the Biblical king Herod’s son is actually an early vampire myth. According to the story, he had a terrible appetite and was so voracious that he accidentally ate his own brother. Herod’s son is often depicted as bloated and unable to move – not unlike Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Vampire myths have been used to explain the dead – In many societies, new illnesses or epidemics were often attributed to vampires. The idea of a virus hiding inside someone and infecting others after their death was relatively new and it’s often said that the concept of a vampire helped explain how this could happen. In Serbia, for example, people believed that an undead child would come back as a vampiric creature with iron teeth called “kudlak”.
Vampire teeth come from folklore – The vampire was given retractable teeth in Bram Stoker’s Dracula after it was discovered that the vampire bat had tiny, needle-like front teeth. As well its blood lust, this gave rise to the vampire myth of drinking blood and turned some people off the idea of ever getting a vampiric tattoo. Creepy!
The fear of death played a big part – In most cultures the dead were treated with great respect and even dread before they were buried. Any oddities around them during their funeral might make perfect sense if they came back to life as a ghost or zombie – but would seem terrifying if they returned as a living being An increase in physical strength or speed was thought to be another sign of vampirism, as was the ability to appear and disappear at will.
Several diseases were called vampirism – Interestingly, many cultures blamed illnesses on vampires rather than actual undead beings. There is still some debate over whether or not tuberculosis (TB) was originally known as “vampirism” in Croatia, for example. The symptoms of TB are very similar to those associated with vampiric legends. If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo that shows this connotation then just remember that TB killed an estimated 1/3rd of Europe during the 18th century!
The vampire has changed over time – It’s interesting how much our perception of what makes up a vampire has changed over time. We think of them as incredibly beautiful and pale but in the past they were thought to be bloated, dark and almost corpse-like. Before Dracula, vampires were often depicted with fangs – though that idea comes from the vampire bat rather than anything else.