Skull with Top Hat Tattoo
Although there are over 200 bones in a human body, there is one skeletal segment above all others which is immediately recognized as uniquely representative of all humankind: the skull. But it is not simply a symbol of humanity, it is instead a direct symbol of human death. Many organizations have used skulls in their symbolism, conveying a sense of fearlessness, fierceness, and even intimidation. Many cultures have actually worshipped skulls as sources of power, displayed them as war trophies, and even used them as chalices for sacred drinks. Many religious figures are linked with the symbolism of the skull as well including the Hindu gods Kali and her husband Shiva who are both adorned with garlands of skulls.
In Christianity, the site of the crucifixion is known as Golgotha, the Aramaic word for skull. On a lighter note, however, it is Shakespeare who has Hamlet banter with the skull of “poor Yorick”, who although a “fellow of infinite jest” seems no longer to be able to even “mock your own grinning.” It is a lighter tone as well that the top hat seems to add in this classic tattoo design. Although the gleaming, silky, and deeply black formal headgear has sometimes been worn by stylish morticians, it is irony in the extreme when contrasted with the blinding white bareness of a skull. There is something conspicuously swanky and disdainfully dressed-up when the most plain of human likenesses is paired with a top hat, also known as a high hat. Other tattoo symbols of memento mori (Latin for “remember you must die) may convey the same reminder of our mortality but few others manage to lay on the same sense of cool, cavalier, contempt as the skull with top hat.