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Postures in prayer take many different forms across the world – and through time – often varying within a single religion. Early Christian drawings or paintings of persons engaged in the act of prayer do not show them with their hands, palms together, raised slightly in front of them.
Our only real clue, as faint and threadbare as it may be, is the following line from the Annals of the Kingdom of Franks, likely written by a scribe named Einhard (c. Marie de’ Medici Assumes the Traditional Position of Vassal in a Commendation Ceremony (Peter Paul Reubens). By the 15th century, this method of prayer was securely part of western Christian iconography.
Albrecht Durer was a German painter and printmaker from Nuremberg whose artistic talent flourished at an early age – his first self-portrait was done when he was thirteen – and he was famous by his mid-twenties.
Spiritual tattoos like praying hands seem amazing with rosary patterns and meticulous details. If you liked our selection, perhaps these other posts will interest you too, Boondock Saints Tattoos, Scripture Tattoos, Chest Tattoos For Men, and Cover Up Tattoos.
Keep praying and reciting the holy name and there shall be no hardship hard enough to break you. Prayers and the God’s token of protection, the Cross, will always guide you to the right path. Your loved ones may leave you one day, but be assured that they always stay in the God’s hands. Kaylee Smith is the owner of a tattoo parlor in Chicago and loves writing about tattoo designs and other design topics.

As an outward sign of inward thoughts, they naturally express a variety of messages that can range from humility to ecstasy and even intercession. In the San Marco monastery of Florence, Fra Angelico (a Dominican friar and painter) was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici to paint a series of 43 frescoes that acted as a guide to the spiritual life.
Eventually he would journey to Italy (twice) and his reputation spread quickly throughout Europe.
I think that is mostly because it is motivated by suffering a great loss or something like that and the need to pay tribute to that loss, whatever it may have been, makes for an easy motivation to get that first tattoo.
In the Christian wall paintings of the Roman catacombs, the dominant form of prayer shown is that of the orans position, standing with the hands spread in front and the palms facing up. The vassal would kneel before the lord in submission, with his hands, palms together, stretched out to the lord in front of him.
Not surprisingly, prayer figures largely, but in particular we see that Saint Dominic is painted kneeling in front of the crucifix, with his palms together in front, in a codified gesture of prostration meant to invoke an attitude of humility. Holy quotes, God’s portraits and angelic figures give another dimension to the beauty of praying hands tattoos. One still has to realize that they will probably have the tattoo for life so it better be something they will never regret, because it won’t mater if you do regret it. It is a position still widespread in the iconography of the Eastern Christian churches and it was also described in Greek and Aramaic texts referring to Jewish prayer. The lord would then place his hands over the vassals hands, between his own, to indicate not only his acceptance of the vassal but also his dominance over him.
In theory and in practice, this particular gesture had become an expected part of the ritual repertoire.

Durer typically made large numbers of preparatory drawings, engravings, and paintings as studies for large commissioned works, and such was the case for the Heller Altarpiece, a triptych originally commissioned by a textile merchant in Frankfurt named Jakob Heller. This guy appears to have his very large praying hands tattoo right in the center of his back, so unless he walks around a lot without a shirt on, chances are most people he works with and socializes with have never seen it.
As used in the catacombs, it has been interpreted both as a prayer position that suggested thanksgiving for being delivered from death and an earnest supplication to God for merciful judgement of the departed soul.
As marvelous as these frescoes are, we must turn to another artist of this period for the exact image in our tattoo design. Although the original painting was destroyed by fire, the praying hands are one such study (for an apostle in the finished piece). You feel proud of your tattoo and love to be in the state of praying in the form of this lifetime creative mark of respect for Him.
That would mean it is a very private thing between him and his God and he does not care if anyone else sees it. However, if this shared position of prayer was so widespread and in use so early, where and when does the version in our tattoo become prevalent, at least in western Christianity? Now reproduced on religious medallions, in devotional documents, and Christian tattoos worldwide, it is difficult to capture in words the appeal of this image but the painstaking attention to detail and the meticulous proportions of something so familiar as human hands make it difficult to see how it could be changed without detracting from its beauty.

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