King, Queen, Jack, Joker: What Do Playing Card Tattoos Represent?

The King, Queen, Jack, and Joker cards from a regular deck of playing cards are becoming a trendy choice of tattoo for everyone from the young to the old, but why are they so popular, and what do playing cards tattoos represent? For some, they represent luck and good fortune, and for others, they are a symbol of risk-taking or gambling. It is even said to denote death if a playing card is being held by a skeletal hand!

The meaning behind each card can vary somewhat, and people will tell you different reasons for why they had, for example, the Queen of Hearts or the Jack of Spades tattooed on their body. Some people will have more deep and meaningful reasons for getting a tattoo, and others may tell you they got their playing card tattoo simply because they liked the look of it.

A brief history of playing cards

According to mainstream historians, playing cards date back as far as the 9th century AD. They were supposedly invented during the Tang Dynasty in ancient China based on historical texts that spoke about playing cards. The cards back then were very different from the cards most people are familiar with today. Eventually, a new variation of cards appeared in ancient Persia, Arabia, and Egypt, before even more varieties spread to Europe and beyond. Even to this day, German, French, Italian, and Swiss-German playing cards are noticeably different. 

In modern times, most people from Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom will recognize the traditional deck of 52 playing cards and the four suits in each deck: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and Clubs. In each suit, there is an Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King, plus you normally have two jokers in a deck. These two jokers can be used as spare cards if you lose any of the other cards from the deck, and they are the same playing cards used at every land-based casino, poker hall, and online casino in the western world.

A brief history of tattoos

Tattoos are not a new thing in the slightest. In fact, they have been around since neolithic times. For those of you who never studied history at school, the Neolithic period lasted from around 4,300 BC to 2000 BC, which means roughly 4,000 to 6,300 years ago, and so means tattoos are older than most people think. The word ‘Neolithic’ actually means ‘New Stone,’ which is why this period in human history is also often referred to as the New Stone Age.

Archaeologists have found perfectly preserved mummies covered in tattoos from as far back as this time period and onwards. Ancient tattooed bodies have now been found on almost every major continent, and the tattooing of the body has been practiced by almost every major culture and civilization since those early days. According to popular belief, tattoos were traditionally used to remember relatives that have passed, to represent how they understand the world around them, for decorative reasons, and to represent certain other important beliefs.

Does it hurt getting a tattoo?

Depending on which part of the body you are getting tattooed will often tell you how much it’s going to hurt. For example, the armpits, rib cage, ankles and shins, nipples and breasts, groin area, elbows, and kneecaps, behind the knees, and the hips are said to hurt the most when being tattooed. However, some people feel pain a lot more than others, so don’t let this worry you too much if you’re about to get an inking.

The places where tattoos are said to hurt the least when they’re being done are the outer arm, buttocks, calf, and outer shoulder, so remember that when you next get a tattoo of a playing card or any other design for that matter. Age restrictions apply in most countries, although, in Costa Rica, you can get a tattoo from as young as 12! In some European countries, you only need to be 16, whereas, in most other countries, you must be at least 18.