Peace sign tattoos have been popular practically since the inception of the symbol in 1958. The peace sign was designed by Gerald Holtom, an artist in Britain, and used first for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
It is a little known face that in creating the symbol, Holtom used naval semaphores as the basis for the design.
Semaphores are the flag signaling system where a flag in each hand is held in a different position to represent a different letter or number.
The peace sign is a combination of the positions for the letters N and D for nuclear disarmament. Now the symbol is used for peace in any situation.
Peace sign tattoos have come to have different meanings for practically each person who wears one. Ask ten people with peace signs tattooed why they have one and you will likely get ten different interpretations of the symbol and reasons for having the tattoo.
Peace signs have come to have various interpretations for people including harmony, tranquility, serenity, oneness with others, pacifism and goodwill and many other similar ideas.
Peace tattoos are not limited to just this peace symbol. There are many other symbols that communicate the idea or ideology of peace. These too are seen incorporated into many tattoos, whether the person wishes for world peace or is just hoping for internal peace.
Olive Branch – The olive branch is an ancient peace symbol. Dating as far back as 5 B.C., the olive was mentioned by a greek playwright in reference to Eirene, the goddess of peace, to whom the olive was essential and dear. The ancient Greeks believed the olive tree drove away evil spirits.
The ancient Romans also believed the olive branch was a symbol of peace, Mars the Pacifer the bringer of peace is shown on ancient Roman coins bearing an olive branch.
Even in current world affairs the olive branch is a symbol of peace and unity as shown in the United Nations flag, which has an olive branch incorporated into its design. Olive branches are not often seen in recent body art, giving an opportunity to create an original peace sign tattoo including the olive branch.
The Dove – The dove has long been a symbol of peace. In the Bible it was the dove that came bearing an olive branch to Noah to indicate the waters had receded. This of course, would have meant a great feeling of peace for Noah and his family after the great flood they had endured. Since that time the dove and olive branch have both symbolized peace and tranquility.
The Broken Rifle – This symbol has been used by an anti-war group called War Resisters International since 1921, however, it was first seen in a 1909 issue of a publication called De Wapens Neder (Down With Weapons). It was also used on the cover of a 1915 issue of Under the Broken Rifle, a publication of the Norwegian Social Democratic Youth Association.
The White Poppy – The white poppy could be a beautiful addition to a peace sign tattoo. First used as a symbol of peace in 1933 by the Women's Co-operative Guild, when there was wide-spread fear of war in Europe.
This group of women began the practice of distributing white poppies as an alternative to the red poppies distributed in remembrance of those who had fallen in war. White poppies were also made into wreaths as a “pledge to peace that war must not happen again”.
The “V” Sign – The “V” sign is a hand gesture, with the palm outwards and the index and middle fingers open with all other fingers closed. After the second World War this sign was used as a victory symbol.
When the war began in Viet Nam this design was adopted by the anti-war protestors as a sign of peace. This symbol is seen in many peace tattoos combined with other peace symbols to create a peace mural.
With the current state of affairs around the world, with much of it entrenched in civil and international wars it is no wonder peace signs and symbols are being tattooed quite often. Hopefully, the design ideas offered here will help you add originality as well as substance to your new peace sign tattoos.