Handshake Tattoo Meaning, Design & Ideas

From movies and TV shows to our family and friends; we learned a long time ago that a handshake was a symbol of peace and friendship. I’m sure we can all remember times when we were excited and shook our friend’s hand (or gave them a high five) to show our satisfaction with a situation.

You watched businessmen make a deal in the movies and shake on it. The handshake used to be your word of honor. It might not be as rigid of a meaning today, but many people still believe in the power of a handshake.

The handshake is a powerful symbol. So much so that we see many people get it tattooed on their bodies. Whether it’s tattoo filler or the main focus, the handshake tattoo has been around for a long time.

We usually associate good things with the handshake, but we often see symbols, especially in tattooing, that make us realize that not all handshakes are of a positive sort or have happy meanings. Depending on what the tattoo is depicting; it might change the feeling of the image.

In this post, we are going to talk about the relevance of the handshake and why people started doing it. Then we will move into the symbolic meaning of the handshake tattoo and what it means to those that have it inked on their body. The variation of the handshake tattoo tells a story that might only be answered by the person with the tattoo. However, we are going to give it a whirl and we hope you feel more informed on the subject afterwards.

History of Handshakes

A handshake is a ritual in which two people clasp their hands together and briefly move them up and down. There are different customs with handshakes depending on the culture. Some may participate in the act more than others.

The ancient Greeks partook in handshaking and we saw evidence of this act going all the way back to the 5th century BC. There is a depiction of two soldiers shaking hands on a funerary stele in the Pergamon Museum.

The handshake is known to be one of the highest forms of symbolic currency. It is able to unite, broker peace, seal deals and divide. This gesture that is so simple can be more powerful than a host of speeches. They stick with us. We know we did it and no matter if the result that was supposed to come from that handshake happened, we don’t forget about it.

Handshakes can be traced back to the kiss of peace during the Middle Ages when peace treaties and agreements were not written down very often. They had to use other methods to lock in the deal. In most cases, they would swear an oath and then offer the kiss of peace. The handshake is another way of making your word known.

One famous handshake occurred in Jamaica at a peace concert in 1978. Bob Marley persuaded Michael Manley, who was the Prime Minister, and opposition party leader Edward Seaga to shake hands while they were on stage. This was a big symbol as these two parties were involved in heavy fighting at the time.

However, this didn’t stop the violence and it was more of an achievement of Bob Marley’s. This goes to show that not all handshakes are solid oaths and you have to be aware of who you are shaking hands with.

This leads us to the symbolism that a handshake can be used for good purposes and it can be used in deceit.

Handshake Tattoo Variations

As we spoke about, the meaning of the handshake tattoo can represent many feelings. Below are some of the variations of the tattoo that we have seen and what we feel is the meaning behind them based on our research. This is by no means all of the ways it can be done but they are some examples.

Snake Biting Handshake Tattoo

The snake handshake tattoo is one we see around a lot. It embodies a very important lesson that many need to learn in life. This lesson is that trusting others can have serious consequences. While the normal handshake tattoo represents trust, agreement and peace, this tattoo represents deception in some way.

When you trust someone, you let your guard down and make it easier for someone to lie, cheat or steal. It is unfortunate that people do this, but you have to be careful of who you trust, and this tattoo is a testament to that sentiment.

Handshake Tattoo with Peace Symbols

The handshake with peace symbols is a self-explanatory tattoo. Most people think of a handshake as an agreement of peace. You might see other symbols that represent peace as well like the olive branch, doves or even a heart. These are all positive symbols that represent a peaceful resolution or friendship that has lasted. We hope that most people get to experience the handshake in this fashion as opposed to the snake that bites the hand.

Handshake Tattoo with Devil Hand

The handshake with the devil tattoo is one that symbolizes a darker part of the life of the person with this tattoo. Since many handshakes represent that a deal has been made, the handshake tattoo with the devil might represent the same thing. There is a saying that talks about making a deal with the devil. This usually revolves around somebody accomplishing something that nobody thought they could do. If you make a deal with the devil, you usually get your wish but when you pass, the devil will most likely get your soul.

Handshake Tattoo with Horseshoe

We often see the handshake tattoo with a horseshoe in the background. This image might represent a friendship that they hope to have continued good luck with. It might also represent a deal made and both parties hope everything goes well.

Family First Handshake Tattoo

The family’s first handshake tattoo is one that speaks to making sure your family comes before everything else. We sometimes get lost in the shuffle of life and work, but we need to remember what got us there. More than likely your family played a big role in that, so the family’s first handshake is a reminder.

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