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Hold Fast Tattoo History

HOLD FAST tattoos have been very popular for sailors for many years.

Throughout history salty sailors/mariners believed the “HOLD FAST” tattoo on their knuckles kept evil forces away from them. For the history of the term “HOLD FAST” please read our article covering that here. The sailors thought that those eight letters on their knuckles would bring them luck while they are gripping the lines and riggings during storms. Other sailors depend on them to hold the line no matter what. If they would let the line go it would let the entire ship down. Sailors have many superstitions and had ceremonies for every rite of passage. If a tattoo could possibly give them an advantage to survive their dangerous job then why not.

The term HOLD FAST means different things to different people. Here are a few interpretations:

  • Hold Fast – to hold on to something securely, to maintain balance.
  • Hold Fast – to stay put in one place, defending your position.
  • Hold Fast – secure one hand to the ship to protect yourself while using your free hand to help the general good of your shipmates.
  • Hold Fast – to hold on to your beliefs and values. to not waiver from your personal convictions and truths.

The hold fast knuckle tattoos were very popular back in the day with the very salty, lifelong sailors. Although they were looked at as a taboo in normal society and sailors were looked at as a lower class. These days the hold fast and other knuckle tattoos are growing more and more popular as normal society has embraced tattoos. In fact, tattoos are now so mainstream, hand or knuckle tattoos are not viewed as that extreme.

Sailor tattoos, in general, are coming back into style for non-sailors as well. Many people believe the Sailor tattoos are the original tattoos in western culture. To be a purist, many believe a sailor tattoo is the only way to go. Also, many sailor tattoos were rites of passage. For instance, instead of crossing over 5,000 nautical miles a person might get a swallow, bird tattoo to celebrate another type of accomplishment.

Although the words “HOLD FAST” on the knuckles was the traditional way to get the tattoo, many people have taken that nautical tattoo and placed it all over their body. The term HOLD FAST is a term many people can relate to. The term Hold Fast appears in many historic writings so the term is not limited to just sailors. Below are a few examples from our Pinterest board titled “HOLD FAST TATTOO EXAMPLES”

HOLD FAST Knuckles:

HOLD FAST chest tattoos:

IF YOU are not ready for a tattoo there is always our cool T-Shirts that you can wear.

The history of the Hold Fast tattoo ties into the history of tattooing in general. The Art of Tattooing is an inconceivably old type of workmanship and self-articulation. From the most punctual period of wind-powered ships, mariners voyaging more remote and more distant abroad had started to experience indigenous individuals who had inked themselves for a considerable length of time. Mariners regularly got inked themselves as a type of gift, to demonstrate where they had been. Indeed, even today, mariners have a tendency to be to some degree superstitious, and for the most part extremely mindful of imagery. Tattoos are the closest method for partner an image (and going with importance) with yourself.

 Lot’s of “conventional” tattoos have their underlying foundations in the history and traditions of mariners. The “hold fast” or “STAY TRUE” tattoo I have is to a great degree conventional. It has since been embraced by other inking subcultures, yet the first plan was to keep mariner’s hands from slipping on lines or to anchor yourself to the riggin’ when working up high in climate. To numerous mariner society, the significance of “hold fast” is clear enough, yet those whose ear’s aren’t prepared to it, it may sound an inconsistency.

 On a ship, a line (a rope to you land lovers) is “fast” when it is solidly and emphatically anchored. In conventional cruising vernacular, many line-and sail-dealing with directions have been reached out to incorporate people also. To “belay” a line is to anchor it with a progression of turns (wraps) around a fitting, stick, bit, or kevel, preventing it from further movement. In like manner, to get out “Belay that!” may very well too apply to a man doing some bothersome action, or to prevent a past request from being completed.

 Numerous other conventional mariner tattoos have their causes in superstition. One awesome model is the match of tattoos of a pig on one foot and a chicken on the other. The suggestion is that both these creatures fear water and that they will shield a mariner’s feet from sinking into the profundities, speeding them back to arrive all the sooner. The universal nautical star is differently illustrative of the polar star itself, or of the compass card; both are to enable the mariner to discover (and keep) their direction.

The history of other mariner tattoos are festivities of specific turning points. A fouled stay on the lower arm implies that the mariner has crossed the Atlantic. Little blue stars on the hands imply trips made around Cape Horn. I have perused references to turtle tattoos for the individuals who have cruised over the Equator. I additionally appear to review something about those conventional swallow tattoos on the shoulders being markers to demonstrate the intersection of the Tropics Of Cancer and Capricorn.

I every so often experiences individuals with these tattoos who have little thought of their social and authentic noteworthiness. I generally set aside a little opportunity to attempt and disclose it to them, as I feel that cruising conventions are critical to every one of us. Having my hands inked makes me a touch of a representative, I presume. My very own tattoo craftsman felt extremely special to have the capacity to “put a genuine mariner tattoo on a genuine mariner”. The history of the Hold Fast tattoo and any tattoo is important because each one tells a story.

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