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Tattoo designs - K >> Kali

Kali Kali Hindu Tattoos - In India, many myths and legends have evolved over the centuries to explain the forces of nature and the workings of the universe and their impact on human existence. Kali, a terrifying and gruesome-looking Mother Goddess, came to symbolize death, destruction and dissolution. In the Hindu pantheon of deities, she is also the 'Terrible Mother', the one whose power threatens to upset the balance of the universe.

No surprise that Kali became associated with danger and the collapse of order, and that she also came to be associated with criminals and other elements that threatened social stability.

Kali is depicted in sculpture and paintings as jet-black - symbolic of the night that 'swallows all of existence'. She is shown naked except for a snake coiled around her, and wearing a 'garland' of skulls. Her most recognizable feature may be her blood-red tongue sticking out aggressively through sharp fangs. With four arms, she has hands enough to hold a sword and the head of a demon, while making gestures of fearlessness and also of conferring benefits. Sometimes children dangle from her ears as ornaments, while on her wrists, serpents serve as bracelets. 

Goddess KaliHer name means 'time', suggesting transience, or time's ultimate power over all life. In the end, all life on earth is finite. Kali reminds us that we cannot wish away or ignore this simple fact.

Kali is also beyond fear. As such, she is invoked by those seeking freedom from fear. Unlike other mother goddesses who give life, Kali is symbolic of one who dissolves or destroys life. She is shown at funeral pyres with jackals and goblins. Sects that revere Kali claim that by acknowledging all aspects of existence including death, fear, and destruction - rather than avoiding them - believers are liberated from existential angst and the bonds that keep them in ignorance.

Kali sculptureToday, many Westerners interpret Kali as the destroyer of the ego, viewing that as a step towards living a life free of the ego's limitations. For many, she is also a powerful symbol of the feminine aspect, which, when ignored or denied, becomes ferocious, leading to an imbalance of cosmic energy. Entrenching this point of view into one's character can be a lifelong challenge, requiring just the kind of support that a Kali tattoo might offer.

In the nationalist movement of the late 19th century, Kali represented the Mother Goddess, the symbol of India.

The Goddess KaliKali appeared in the world - according to some ancient stories - as the personification of the wrath of other deities. Kali provoked Lord Shiva to such violence and destruction that the earth shook, and their dance became so wild and crazy that the very stability of the cosmos was threatened. One legend tells us that Kali sprouted from Shiva's brow so immediately blood-thirsty and out of control that Shiva had to lie at her feet to bring her to a standstill. Some Kali-worshipping sects revere her as the victor over Shiva, whereas those who revere Shiva hold him to be the only one able to calm Kali's ferocity. The balanced view is that cosmic harmony is achieved through the union of both Shiva and Kali.

Kali Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!Kali is responsible for a dark history of human sacrifice in parts of India, which ended under British rule. Another cult, the 'Thuggies', murdered and robbed in her name, and they, too, were banned by the British in the early 19th century.

Kali is particularly popular in Bengal where many beautiful temples exist to honour this terrifying deity.

Get inspired by some really amazing images and photos in our Kali Inspiration Gallery

See also: Religious Tattoos, Krishna Tattoos, Brahma, Hindu Tattoos, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, Religious Tattoo Index

Tattoo designs - K >> Kali

Tattoo Symbol Index - A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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