The gas mask first came into use during World War I when chemical warfare was being used. Chemical attacks were becoming commonplace. When we think of the gas mask, we think of all the negative associations that come attached to the image. This includes chemical warfare and people dying.
The gas mask is also used in scary imagery whether it be art or movies, The gas mask is a creepy-looking item.
However, people love creepy things. The symbolism of the gas mask has been adopted by different subcultures that stem from gothic to steampunk. This being said, they make for really cool tattoos and people love to get them. Not only do they love to get gas mask tattoos for the imagery but there are some popular characters that wear gas masks. So, when factor in all the fans of these different video games and TV shows, there are a lot of reasons to get a gas mask tattoo.
Below you will find information about the gas mask and how it first came into use. From there we will talk about the gas mask tattoo meaning and what it symbolizes for those wearing the tattoo. There are many variations and we won’t be able to touch on all of them but combined with the symbolism of the gas mask and some of the famous characters that wear them, you should feel pretty informed on the reasons why someone would want a gas mask tattoo.
History of the Gas Mask
According to the publication Popular Mechanics, the Greeks used a common sponge as a gas mask. The people of Iraq created a version of a gas mask in the 9th century for those who worked in polluted wells.
The first respirator was invented in 1785 by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. These respirators were used by miners. From there you might have seen the strange bird-beak-looking mask that plagues doctors would fill with herbs. The leader of the most modern gas mask was created by Lewis P. Haslett in 1847. His creation allowed the person wearing it to breathe through a nose and mouthpiece. They would also be able to take in air by way of a bulb-shaped filter and exhale through a vent out of the mask.
Gas Mask Tattoo Meaning
The gas mask tattoo can have many meanings and much of it will depend on who you are talking to. Many famous characters wore gas masks which led to many fan tattoos.
The most obvious meaning deals with death and the end of the world type themes. They can be a symbol of death, destruction and warfare. They might also symbolize revolution. This could be a positive or negative symbol. The point of the gas mask is to keep you alive if there are toxic fumes around. This doesn’t help with the symbolism, but you can at least get a feel for the direction we’re heading in
Most of the symbolism surrounding the gas mask will be solely left up to the person with the tattoo. It can mean so many different things that we feel it would be hard for us to tell you exactly what it symbolizes.
Gas Mask Tattoo Variations
This is where the story will be told. Depending on how the gas mask tattoo is portrayed will let us know what it means to the person wearing it. Below are a few examples of styles and variations of the gas mask tattoo and what it means in our eyes or people who are far more trained than us.
Trash Polka Gas Mask Tattoo
This is more about the style of trash polka and the gas mask being used in it. The creators of the trash polka style are Simone Plaff and Volko Merschky in Germany. Their description of this style says that trash polka is a mix of trash and realism; the abstract and nature; humanity and technology. This doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the symbolism of the trash polka gas mask tattoo, but we sure do see it around a lot.
Gas Mask with Flowers Tattoo
The gas mask tattoo with flowers is an image that pulls us in both directions. While the gas mask symbolizes death and destruction, the flower symbolizes peace and happiness. This image is symbolic of the struggle that we all go through. We try to be good people, but we might be engulfed with rage.
This symbol might also represent a stance against war. Many anti-war artists will combine the imagery of innocence with death as a protest against violence. This was very prevalent during the Vietnam War when the hippy movement really started getting some traction.
Banksy Gas Mask Boy
Banksy’s Gas Mask Boy piece was created in 2010. Like most of Banksy’s work, it revolves around anti-war themes and revolution. In this case, the artwork depicts a child wearing a gas mask painting a picture of an island and palm tree with what looks to be a Sharpie. It is a reminder that not only are soldiers dying in these wars, but innocent people as well.
H.U.N.K. Gas Mask Tattoo
H.U.N.K. is a character from the Resident Evil series. He is a commando of the Umbrella Security Service who was the team leader of the Alpha Team that recovered the G-Virus. His image is one of a soldier wearing a helmet and gas mask with glowing red eyes. For fans and onlookers alike, this is a cool image that makes for a great tattoo.
Psycho Mantis Gas Mask Tattoo
Psycho Mantis is a character that appears in the Metal Gear Solid video game series. Psycho Mantis is a member of the group FOXHOUND and is a powerful medium and psychic. The boss fight against Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid put Hideo Kojima on the map as one of the most creative and unconventional game developers of his time. The Psycho Mantis tattoo is memorable and would make a great piece for any fan of the Metal Gear Solid game.