Daggers have existed for centuries in various cultures and thus hold strong symbolism. Personally, I love dagger tattoos so much that I have one tattooed on the side of my face!
So I decided to delve into what makes dagger tattoos unique and interesting to other people.
What is the meaning of a dagger tattoo?
Dagger tattoos can represent danger and betrayal as well as protection and bravery, so the meaning will be unique to its wearer.
In American Traditional tattooing, daggers are very common and are paired with many different subjects, such as butterflies, snakes, hearts, and flowers. Whatever the dagger is paired with will determine the meaning of the tattoo. For example, if it’s piercing through a heart, this could symbolize a lost love.
Daggers can be shaped to fit the flow of the body, but my favorite spot for them is the calf or forearm. Let’s take a look at my top 20 dagger tattoos:
1. Six daggers piercing a face
The stomach is an extremely difficult area to tattoo, but this artist got extremely clean and straight lines on all of the daggers and the background!
I love the teardrops on the lady’s face and the facial expression they used for her. She doesn’t look bothered that she has six daggers piercing through her face.
2. Glittery butterfly
The glitter effect on tattoos is usually hit or miss for me, and this one is a hit! I absolutely adore the color palette the artist chose – greens, blues, and purples are used together to create such a calming feeling.
I really like the antennas on the butterfly and the subdued use of leaves.
3. Softest pink flower dagger
This is a beautifully simple tattoo. The light peach tones in the flowers, the soft grey in the blade, and the muted yellow in the handle all work beautifully together to make a weapon into a gentle tattoo.
4. Etched dagger through an eye
This tattoo is an interesting spin on a classic design. The precision and attention to detail on this tattoo is phenomenal! I like the very subtle light source on the handle and the almost perfect line work in the eye.
This artist is incredibly talented, and I draw a fair amount of inspiration from their work
5. Vintage dotwork dagger
This tattoo looks like it was taken straight out of a victorian picture book. I love the intricate detail in the handle, with the more organic and simple blade.
This tattoo is also placed on the calf which is one of my favorite placements for dagger tattoos.
6. Crystal blade dagger
This tattoo is so unique I just had to include it! Not only does it look like a bug has been set in resin in the handle, but the artist has also added a raw crystal as a blade.
From afar, this tattoo looks super soft and girly, but on closer inspection, imagine getting stabbed by a raw crystal. That’s hardcore.
7. Foo Dog dagger
This artist has taken a cool spin on a traditional Japanese foo dog. It’s a very effective design to do a dotwork/Japanese mash-up! I especially love all of the detail in the face and the tassels on the handle of the dagger
8. Realistic dagger
I am not generally a fan of realism, but I absolutely love the artist’s take on realism for this tattoo. They have used interesting textures to achieve the final finish – it looks like it is resting right on top of the client’s arm!
9. Yellow sun with eye
This artist used such a limited color palette, and it works! I might be biased because yellow is my favorite color, but even so, the interesting combination of a sun and an eye makes it look like this dagger is piercing through a freaky creature.
10. Bent floral dagger
This artist is well-known for her color palette and her strong, clean outlines. I really enjoy this tattoo because of the bent blade and the bold decision to add a lot of flowers around it. Sometimes it can look very cluttered, but this artist knows composition so well! I also love the extra detail on the blade
11. Mystical dagger
This dagger looks like it could have been taken straight out of a fairy tale book. I love the use of very soft shading in the handle, as well as the curls and the jewel addition. The small sparkles at the bottom of the blade really give it a mystical feel
12. Triple threat
Not only do I adore the color palette of this tattoo, but the clever use of grey tones in the hair of the lady really brings the daggers forward.
This is one of my favorite tattoos so far because of the creativity, and how beautiful the lady’s face is
13. Sliced up frog
This tattoo in its description sounds so gory, but the artist took the liberty to make the frog very comical. I love how they illustrated the frog’s feet and the addition of the blood on the blade
14. Rose wrapping a dagger
This artist took a tough dagger and made it so elegant and soft by wrapping a rose around it. I love the placement of it being in the middle of the chest, and the leafs they chose for the rose are very natural and flowing
15. Fantasy dagger
Daggers are usually a very badass tattoo, but this artist managed to create a very fun and playful tattoo! I really like the use of the glittery effect in parts of this tattoo, and the color palette is beautiful!
16. Bat handles
The cool thing about dagger tattoos is that you can basically use anything as the handle and this artist was extremely creative by using bats!
Bats are often used in Traditional tattoo imagery, but I’ve never seen them as handles for a dagger and I absolutely love it
17. Anime eyes
The concept of a face on a dagger blade is quite common, but this artist put their own spin on it by using an anime face. I love that they included a little Hello Kitty charm as a personal touch to the client!
18. Sacred heart
This is one of my absolute favorite single-needle tattoos! The artist created such a clean tattoo on the ribs which is a tricky spot!
There is such attention to detail on the thorns and the shadow cast onto the heart. The handles of the daggers are beautifully executed
19. Optical illusion
The artist achieved an interesting optical illusion using line and form to make you think the smoke is warping and twisting through the dagger. I really like the organic feel that this tattoo has
20. Double daggers
I love how the artist used a painterly texture on the blood coming off of the daggers and how detailed the blades are – they look like they were carved out of chunks of stone
And finally, here’s a bonus tattoo – one of my own! My client saw this on one of my flash sheets and she chose it to represent her and her 2 sisters. To this day, it is one of my favorite tattoos I have ever done and I got to make a friend for life!