Chess Tattoo Meaning, Design & Ideas

The chess tattoo is almost as old as tattoos have been around. In addition, the game is extremely old so you as you guess, there is a lot meaning depending on the opinion of the person with the tattoo and which chess piece you choose.

In this article we will try to give you a little look into the history of chess and the different meanings for the different chess tattoos. Most people have an idea about the game of chess. One thing we know is when someone gets a chess tattoo, it’s not necessarily for the game but for the symbolism.

Back between 280 and 550, the game of chess was thought to have been created in Eastern India. Back then it was known as chaturanga. This meant ‘four divisions’, which was in reference to the military divisions of elephants, cavalry, infantry and chariots. These sections represented the current versions of the today’s bishop, knight, pawn and knights.

From there, the game spread far east and west on the Silk Road. At around 600, there was evidence of chess by Sassanid Persia. Here is where it became known as chatrang. The Muslim world began playing the game at this time and renamed it shatranj.

The game had different names depending on where it was being played but eventually ending up being known as chess in Europe.

If you notice when looking at people with a chess tattoo, they will have all variations of the game from the board to all the pieces. Below we will go over some of the meanings behind the chess pieces available on the board. Keep in mind, the person wearing the tattoo may have a different meaning but through our research, this is what we’ve come up with.

King Piece

The King is the most important piece on the board. If you lose your king, you’ve lost the contest. Therefore, it is a strong piece and carries much meaning to those with the king chess piece tattoo. Someone with the king tattooed on their body might want to let people know of their importance. Because the king is such a powerful piece in the game of chess, it can carry the same meaning in life. In chess, the king can’t move far, but he doesn’t have to.

He has soldiers to do that for him. By donning this tattoo, you’re letting the world know you are the man (or woman) and you run things.

Queen Piece

The Queen commands the soldiers on the field. She is the most powerful attacker on the chess board and can move almost anywhere she wants. Because of her strength on the battlefield, she is also burdened with the responsibility of attacking too much. When she dies, the rest aren’t far behind. Every man needs a good woman behind them (as the saying goes).

Knight Piece

The knight has a unique skill set. It may not be the fastest or the most powerful, but it has a place in the world and a very distinct skill. Those wearing the knight chess piece tattoo know they are good at one thing and can often pass up others who may be more versatile. The knight can also be looked at as representing Divine Law meaning we must take all our actions into account. The movement of the knight creates an ‘L’. It is the only piece in the game that can leap over others.

Rook Piece

The rook is essentially the protector of the more important pieces. The watch and observe the inner world. It moves linear left and right or back and forth. They can move far and fast. In society, they might be known as a bodyguard or a henchman. They are great soldiers and are very loyal.

Bishop Piece

The bishop tattoo symbolizes an erotic force. It can move diagonally across the board both ways which forms and ‘X’. This symbol of the ‘X’ or cross tells us to rid our wishes based in ego. If one feels they are an erotic force, they might get the bishop tattoo. If you look closely, it has a resembles a phallic symbol as well.


The pawn tattoo represents the first step in the process. They represent the beginners on the road. These are warriors that throw themselves into battle before anyone else. They can only take one step forward or diagonally if they are going to conquer and enemy. The pawns are sacrificial souls who are taken for the cause of the greater good. Someone might get a pawn tattoo to remember to take things one step as a time. There is no rushing the process.

King and Queen Couple Tattoo

The king and queen couples tattoo might represent something completely different than that of those pieces on their own. You tend to see couples get one of each. The are the rulers of their own domain and nobody has the right to come in and tell them what to do. The king and queen push all distractions aside and focus on each other. It is a strong relationship that should stand the test of time. On the other hand, you could look at these individually and make your own assumptions.

We hope that by reading the above post, you are a little surer on the direction you want to go with your chess tattoo. In addition, these pieces can be construed however the person being tattooed wants to. We’ve asked people on the meaning of their chess tattoos and there are usually a wide range of meanings for the people that have these tattoos. At least with the knowledge from above, your choice can be narrowed down.

The next step is finding a shop or artist that you feel comfortable with to complete your vision. This is a touch choice for a lot of people and we hope you take your time in conducting the research needed for this important decision. If you have read this post and still aren’t sure what to do, let us know so we can refer you to someone qualified.

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