Pyramid Tattoos: the fulcrum of symbolism
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Some see pyramids as altars raised to the gods, others as homes to the dead or even astronomical instruments…

A flame toward the sky

Pyramids are surrounded by an intricate labyrinth of explanations yet. First and foremost, the very name of these strange buildings. What does the word pyramid actually mean? On the basis of Greek etymology, the word “pyramis” means “having the shape of fire”, thus an adjective describing the triangular upward-pointing form of the flame.

Xam, Seven Doors Tattoo, London, UK
Xam, Seven Doors Tattoo, London, UK

Imitation of high mountains?

Another theory is that the word comes from the Egyptian tongue and derives from ‘per-em-us’ or “that which goes upwards”. In either case, the feeling is still of something that detaches itself from the ground to follow its own particular austerity of form. As an attempt by mankind to replicate mountains. So the pyramids could be imitations of mountains and “altars” for communicating with the gods from a closer vantage point.

Gianluca Fusco, The Family Business Tattoo, London, UK
Gianluca Fusco, The Family Business Tattoo, London, UK

The grave theory

What if pyramids were tombs? The stepped pyramids to be found in Egypt, Mesopotamia or ancient Pre-Colombian society are reminiscent of majestic stairways soaring skyward. Because of their ingenious architectural design, the perfectly square base and four triangles rising up from the earth are hermetically sealed at the top in such a way as to form the perfect inaccessible burial chamber. They were the resting place chosen for the Pharaoh and must therefore be safe from thieves and grave-robbers. The eternal sleep of the sons of the god Ra (Horus, the earthly incarnation of the Pharaoh), merited an impenetrable place, a metaphor for primordial protection.

Greg Nicholson, Evil Kolors, Langley, Canada
Greg Nicholson, Evil Kolors, Langley, Canada

And now a little bit of geometry…

The pyramid is on a square base with four triangular forms rising from it to join forming the four facades. Therefore the numbers 4 (the square) and 3 (the triangle) are pivotal. Four is the “world” as we know it. Think of the four seasons, the four cardinal points, or the four elemental forces (fire, water, earth and air). Three has always represented divinity both in Christianity (God, one and trine) as well as other religions (first and foremost Hinduism). This would explain why the vast plain of Giza has only three pyramids (Cheops, Chephren and Mikerinos) guarded by the silent enigmatic Sphynx.

Domenico Acampora, Wildink Tattoo Crew, Napoli, Italy
Domenico Acampora, Wildink Tattoo Crew, Napoli, Italy

Symbol of Astros

The pyramid is an astronomical symbol too, largely composed of energy from space sublimated through its contact with our planet Earth. A quasi-philosophical explanation, born perhaps of the need of mere mortals to communicate with the universe and somehow draw benefit from it. Human beings use the pyramid for a ritual to bring them closer to God so that they in turn may feel divine. And this is the reason for our fascination with the pyramid over all these millennia, and the reason it will never die.

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