The Gypsy tattoo is a classic old school tattoo design. Many Gypsy tattoo are still done today a the traditional tattoo art style as beautiful throwback to the tattoos of the mid-twentieth century. A Gypsy tattoo most often shows a woman’s head and shoulders, but occasionally you’ll see a full-body Gypsy design.
If you’re curious about whether or not a Gypsy tattoo is right for you, keep reading to learn about the meanings and different variations of Gypsy tattoos.
Gypsy Tattoo Meaning
Gypsy tattoo meanings are strongly tied to our perception of what Gypsies (aka, Roma) stand for and represent. Throughout history, Gypsies have been seen as mysterious, wandering people who were a source of fascination and fear for the communities they traveled through. This historical perception of the Roma has influenced the meanings behind Gypsy tattoos.
Many of these meanings apply to both men and women who wear a Gypsy tattoo. The meanings can be what the wearers think about themselves, or they can be about a woman who is important to the wearer.
For anyone who can trace back their ancestry to the Roma people, a Gypsy tattoo represents the wearer’s pride in their Gypsy roots/heritage. There is a message of having strong bonds to “their people” while being independent from the larger society.
For non-Romas, Gypsy tattoo may be an homage to the Gypsy people and their lifestyle. The meaning of the tattoo is about being free-spirited, nomadic, wandering. It has a message about seizing life and living as if today was your last day. It can also represent being adventurous and fearless. Or it can be about having a life without conventional constraints.
Taking this idea a step further a Gypsy tattoo might appeal to someone who feels like an outsider in society, as if they don’t belong anywhere. Or it might signify someone who chooses to live an unconventional, Bohemian/hippy, eccentric lifestyle. The meaning of the tattoo may be about feeling restless and uncontrolled.
A Gypsy tattoo can also represents a woman who is bold and self-confident, maybe even a little mysterious. This could be the wearer or a woman who is important to the wearer. If the tattoo represents a specific woman it may be done as a likeness of the woman.
For men and women, a Gypsy tattoo meaning could be about independence, self-sufficiency, resiliency, creativity, or a sense of accomplishment.
Because of the reputation Gypsies have for being fortune tellers, a Gypsy tattoo could have a more supernatural meaning behind it. It may represent the mystery that surrounded Gypsies or a belief in magic, luck, rituals, or the occult. It may even mean that the wearer believes they have the ability to know the future.
Because of the itinerant nature of Gypsy lifestyle, a Gypsy tattoo may represent life’s path for the wearer. Or it can be about a journey or a search the wearer is on (may be a literal journey/search or a figurative one).
A Gypsy tattoo may also mean that the wearer is looking toward the future or it may represent a desire for what lies ahead.
Conversely, a Gypsy tattoo can also represent past hardships in the person’s life and the strength it required to move on from those hardships.
There are a few cultural aspects that can affect the meaning of a Gypsy tattoo.
- Gypsy/Sugar Skull (Calavera) that shows the Gypsy woman with a skull face is a way to honor the dead, usually a specific loved one.
- The headwear shown on the woman in the tattoo sometimes reflects a culture not usually associated with a traditional Gypsy image (a turban-style scarf or a scarf with Native American art designs, for example). Sometimes the woman wears an animal/animal head instead of a scarf.
Gypsy Tattoo Variations
- Gypsy Girl: The woman often has no expression on her face, is shown in heavy makeup with traditional jewelry (hoop earrings, necklaces), long dark hair, scarves, or even feathers over the hair. There are often flowers in the tattoo. Sometimes the woman is shown in profile and may look as though she’s gazing at the stars or into the distance (represents that she can see into the future).
- Gypsy Moon: The woman is shown with a moon in the tattoo and represents supernatural meanings.
- Gypsy Rose: The woman is shown with a rose image. A rose represents hope and a new start, but it can also represent love for someone who has passed away.
- Gypsy With Magical Symbols: The woman is shown with tarot cards, a crystal ball, or stars. The tattoo is about knowing the future and having foresight.
- Gypsy Woman With Two Sets of Eyes: Like the previous variation, this tattoo is about the woman’s ability to see what others can’t (the second pair of eyes represents her “second sight”).
- “Blind” Gypsy: The woman is shown with her eyes covered or they are shown as white “blind” eyes. The message of the tattoo is that the woman doesn’t need physical eyes to see because she’s able to see into the supernatural realm.
Alternative To Traditional Gypsy Tattoo Images
Images of a Gypsy woman aren’t the only form a Gypsy tattoo can take. There are a few alternative tattoo designs,
- “Opre Roma,” which is “Arise Roma” in English: This is the slogan of the Roma people and some people have it done as a script tattoo.
- The Roma Flag: This flag symbol was adopted by the Roma in 1933 and formally approved nearly 40 years later at the First World Romani Congress held in 1971.
- The Chakra Wheel: This became the official symbol of the Roma people in 1971, also at the First World Romani Conference. It honors the Indian heritage of the Roma and it’s the red symbol shown on the Romani flag.
Gypsy Tattoo Styles
Gypsy tattoos are usually very colorful tattoo designs, although they can be quite beautiful when done by a tattooist who is skilled in blackwork or black and grey realism. The colors help set the tone of your tattoo’s meaning, so a discussion with your tattooist will determine what tattoo style is best for you.
Traditional/Old School: In this style, a Gypsy woman will be drawn in an art deco, pin-up, or cartoon style. The colors will reflect the period feel of the tattoo image.
Black and Gray Realism: Gypsy tattoos created in black and gray realism have a mysterious and moody feel to them. If the Gypsy in the tattoo represents the wearer herself or a woman who is important to the wearer, the Gypsy may be drawn in a realistic likeness of that woman.
Color Realism: This style creates complex images of the Gypsy woman, who may or may not be an image of a real woman the wearer knows.
Bold colors for the tattoo convey a sense of being strong-natured, independent, and unconventional. Muted colors and elements of nature within the tattoo image emphasize a spiritual connection with nature and the mystical.
Gypsy Tattoo Considerations
There don’t seem to be any negative considerations, like gang affiliation, to take into account if you’re interested in getting a Gypsy tattoo.
Gypsy Tattoo Placement
Gypsies are tattoos that people seem to like displaying, so they tend to be placed on arms (forearm as well as shoulder) and legs (often the calf). Larger tattoos will typically be placed on the back.
A Gypsy is often used as part of a larger, complex sleeve tattoo.
Gypsy Tattoo Examples
Here are some images to inspire your own Gypsy tattoo.
Black Ink Images
Example 1: An old school art style in black and grey.
Example 2: A contemporary depiction of a Gypsy woman.
Example 3: Another contemporary image of a Gypsy woman.
Example 4: Sometimes a Gypsy woman is shown with an animal instead of the traditional scarf on her head.
Color Ink Images
Example 1: A classic tattoo design of a Gypsy woman in profile.
Example 2: An image of Gypsy woman inspired by traditional tattoos with contemporary elements in the design.
Example 3: Another image of Gypsy woman with an old school tattoo feel.
Example 4: A modern depiction of a Gypsy fortune teller.
Example 5: The Sugar Skull version of the Gypsy woman.
Final Words On the Gypsy Tattoo
Gypsy tattoos are surprisingly popular tattoos that both men and women can wear. The Gypsy woman can be depicted any number of ways, but she’s almost always shown as a beautiful and mysterious figure. Gypsy tattoos often have meanings about being free-spirited or adventurous, or they have meanings tied to the supernatural, or they can be about a bold and confident woman.
If you have a Gypsy spirit or there’s an important woman in your life who has that Gypsy nature about her, then this might be a tattoo that’s right for you.
Have you ever wondered what other tattoos mean? Click here for blog posts about other tattoo images.