A Chicano is a person of Mexican decent and usually a man or boy. As with most cultures, the people of Mexico have a big sense of pride when it comes to where they are from and their culture. So much so, they brought into the United States to stay. The Mexican culture has impacted the United States in a big way and many people that live here can’t tell the difference of what Mexican culture is or not because it is just a part of life now. Chicanos are extremely prideful and get many tattoos that represent them, their family and where they are from.
These tattoos are done in black and many of them have specific designs based on the culture Chicanos experience. You will often see portraits, murals, religious themes and different fonts tattooed on the body. Every Chicano tattoo can be different and much of it depends on the experiences of the person getting the tattoo. There is a lot of history behind this style of tattooing and a lot of meaning as well.
In this post, we are going to talk about those Chicano tattoos and what they mean to the people getting them. We will also dive into the history of Chicano tattoos and talk about where they came from. We will also talk about some of the more popular variations of the Chicano tattoo and what those symbolize for that person. By the time you finish reading this we hope you have a better understanding of Chicano tattoos and the rich and important history behind them.
History of Chicano Tattooing
The term Chicano or Chicana is a term that was created to classify a group of people of Mexican descent that live in the United States. It wasn’t a term of endearment until the Mexican people took it to be their identity during the 1960’s Chicano movement. Before World War II, the Chicanos were discriminated against but there was an overall acceptance, for the most part, when the men of the Chicano community fought side by side, next to Caucasian men in the war. However, the price of living in the big cities had the Mexican people moving into the suburbs and starting their own communities better known as the “barrios.” From there, a brand new style was born in the Mexican community. The youth of the area created their own style wearing things like disk caps and plumes, large clothes and big chains as part of a way to reflect their economic status. In the 1960’s, one of the ways the Chicano fought back against oppression was with art and they would cover the walls with giant murals that reflected the way they felt at the time. These murals consisted of many ideas which are still used in Chicano tattoos today.
The Chicano tattoo is said to be originated with the Pachuco gang in the 1940’s and they were prevalent in New Mexico, Texas and California. At first, these tattoos were inked by hand and usually with a sewing needle of some sort. Many of the classic themes were skulls, religious figures, women, flowers and text of all kinds possibly naming family members or people they have lost.
Chicano Tattoo Variations
We mentioned it above but there many styles and subjects for Chicano tattooing. We want to dive in a little deeper into the some of the more popular variations of this style of tattooing to give you an idea of some of the options you have if you are going to get a Chicano tattoo yourself. If you are indeed getting a Chicano tattoo, you probably already have an idea of some of your options so below will get into the meaning behind the images.
Religions Chicano Tattoos
It only makes sense that a large number of people of Mexican descent get religious tattoos if they are going to get a Chicano tattoo. The reason why this is the case is because as of 2010, 83% of the total Mexican population are Catholic. This leads us to believe that religion had been passed down generations and so you get many Chicano tattoos of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and crosses amongst other religious symbols. We also see the sacred heart tattoo as well as other religious symbols and they are all in black and grey.
Clown Chicano Tattoo
Whether it’s the jester or the smile now, cry later faces, the face of the clown has long been a subject for Chicano tattooing. The clown Chicano tattoo meaning revolves around the idea of not showing weakness. Smile now and cry later and this is an attitude that had be taken on when times were tough in the neighborhood. The Chicano people also viewed the clown as a symbol of playing games or potentially gambling with your life.
Bandida Chicano Tattoo
The Bandida, or the women that are tattooed on a Chicano’s body is a big part of the Chicano culture. American icons like Marilyn Monroe or general Mexican women are usually chosen because of their beauty. You might even see the above women with gang tattoos adorning their body. Often the Bandida tattoo is accompanied by dollars, skulls and guns to symbolize the frailty of life.
Low Rider Chicano Tattoo
In Chicano culture and art, cars are very important. Much of is an art form but it is also a status symbol. In most cases you will see the car in a low rider form where the suspension is lowered on the car so it is barely above the ground.
Chicano Font Tattoos
The Chicano tattoos are well known for their elegant letters that form whatever message they are trying to portray. In many cases these are tattooed in memorial or a family member or friend and they might be coupled with a portrait as well.
Whatever you decide, make sure you are happy with the artist you are seeing because you only get one shot at this tattoo and you want to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.