According to some sects of Hinduism, the Sri Yantra, aka Sri Chakra, is a yantra, i.e. mystical diagram, used to come to an understanding of the essence of being. It’s essentially a key for unlocking life's most perplexing mysteries. This abstract geometric representation of the universe is almost like an atlas, representing what the Shri Vidya school of tantra — a religious system devoted to the Goddess Tripura Sundari — considers the core elements of the cosmos. Given the pattern’s profound spiritual properties and mesmerizing appearance, it’s no wonder that it’s become such popular in blackwork tattoos.
The Sri Yantra is composed of nine interlocking triangles that create a subsequent set of parallelograms, rhombuses, and 43 other triangles. If you closely look at these tattoos, you can clearly make out how the design comes together. At the center of this geometric sequence is a bindu (the same word for the devotional dot applied to people’s foreheads Hinduism). Because of its distinct 14-pointed star shape, the Sri Yantra stands out from the countless other yantras, which tend to have less complex forms. It is also traditionally surrounded by two rings of lotus petals and a box with four open portals that lead to other dimensions.
The Sri Yantra is believed to be emblematic of Tripura Sundari herself, the goddess of the beauty of the three worlds: Bhoo, Bhuva, and Swa, which translate roughly as “Earth,” “Air,” and “Heaven.” The upward facing triangles represent the god Shiva and masculine energy, while the downward facing ones signify the deity Shakti and feminine energy. In this sense, the Sri Yantra represents the marriage between gendered forces of nature, and because of its charged yet balanced nature, it’s used as an object of meditation that many people believe can bring about a sense of oneness with the cosmos.
In the realm of blackwork tattoos, artists do all sorts of innovative things with Sri Yantra. Some, like Watsun Atkinson, let the impressive pattern stand on its own, while others, as seen in the pieces by Nathan Mould, Piotr Szots, Nissaco, and Jondix, embed it in elaborate spreads of sacred geometry, further amplifying its power. The differences in their compositions aside, by incorporating this figure into their body art, all of these tattooists have created living roadmaps of the path to spiritual realization.
To see more sacred geometry, make sure to follow all of these artists on Instagram. If you want a talisman of inner-peace, too, have one of them inscribe a beautiful Sri Yantra on your body.
This mystical experience was brought to you by Deciphering the Sacred, our series where we explore the symbolism of different figures from the field of sacred geometry. We hope you enjoyed becoming enlightened about Sri Yantra tattoos. Make sure to check out our previous installments, like this in-depth analysis of Metatron’s Cube, an enlightening exploration of The Flower of Life, or an adventure through the loops of Unalomes and bends of eternal knots.