With their otherworldly appearance, deadly killing ability, and beautiful coloration, snakes have enthralled humans since the dawn of time. The legless reptiles appear throughout literature and religious texts across almost all cultures around the world. They’re also quite common in tattoo iconography across basically all tattoo styles. Skilled artists have been able to use the flexibility of the snake to their advantage, as snake tattoos are able to wrap around almost any body part in a pleasing manner. Let’s take a look at some of the more famous, or infamous, snakes throughout the years.
The most famous of all snakes — the one that ruined the entire species’ reputation for over a thousand years — was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, as depicted in the Bible. Adam and Eve could have lived forever in paradise if it weren’t for a devious serpent’s trick. Once the snake tricked Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, against God’s wishes, it was all downhill for mankind.
In Egypt, it was an Egyptian cobra that was responsible for the death of the beloved Cleopatra. After her lover Mark Antony killed himself, the distraught queen allowed herself to be bitten by a venomous snake to commit suicide.
One of the few places in the world without snakes is the island of Ireland, but don’t think that the lack of snakes means that people weren’t still intrigued by them. In fact, there had to be an origin story as to why the Emerald Isle was so lucky. St. Patrick — you know his name because of the binge drinking bozos you encounter every March 17th — had a particular distaste for snakes and made sure that they were all driven out of Ireland. Thanks, Patrick!
From the spring-like baddies in Q*bert to Indiana Jones’ biggest phobia, snakes are still ever present throughout our pop culture. Considering that our collective psyche associates snakes with evil, more than a few on-screen badasses have brandished snake tattoos. The cobra coming out of Snake Plissken’s pants in Escape from New York forever cemented the snake as the tattoo of choice for tough guys the world over. On The Simpsons, the town’s criminal is not only named snake, but he has the body art to go along with it.
Snakes are all around us…. Wait, we aren’t trying to scare you. The point is that snakes are an integral part of our culture, including our tattoos. It’s probably best to just embrace the slithering reptiles for their beauty and strangeness. Or else you may find yourself in the death hug of an angry anaconda.