ORIGINS OF ICONIC TATTOO IMAGERY: CLASSIC AMERICAN TATTOOING PART 5: ROCK OF AGES
Throughout the History of American tattooing, from its beginnings up until modern day, people have used tattoos to convey their faith and spirituality. From small, simple crosses to large scale back pieces, drawing imagery and subject matter from many different forms of religion.
One such image is the “Rock of Ages,” a very dramatic depiction of a single person hanging onto a large stone cross surrounded by rough, treacherous seas, stormy skies and often times a sinking ship in the background. A strong graphic representation of one person and their faith holding strong and true in times of turbulence.
The origins of this image date back to the 1890s, when it was first painted by artist Johannes Oertel. Initially titled “Saved; or, An Emblematic Representation of Christian Faith,” and later renamed “Rock of Ages,” after a hymn of the same name written in 1763. The image depicts a woman in a long gown grasping onto a large cross surrounded by rough seas crashing around her. Below her you see an outreached hand reaching upward in desperation from the waters below. A warm hue of light comes from above her, illuminating the cross and perfectly conveying the message of faith throughout troubled times.
Its speculated that the image made its way into the tattoo world somewhere around the end of the 19th century and it has been tattooed thousands of times since. With its beautiful and symbolic imagery, it made for a perfect tattoo and lent itself well to being tattooed on many areas of the body.
Religion and faith have always made for strong subject matter when it comes to tattooing and are popular amongst a wide range of people. If you ever find yourself wanting to represent your faith and spirituality with a solid tattoo thats built to last a lifetime, please feel free to stop by our shop anytime and speak with an artist.
These tattoos done by Justin Martinez.