Handshake Tattoo Meaning: A Symbol of Unbreakable Bonds and Lifelong Pacts

Imagine a humble, everyday action transformed into a piece of permanent art. Imagine the handshake — an act so ordinary, yet brimming with symbolism — etched on the skin.

Seems intriguing?

Indeed, it is! Welcome, dear reader, to the world of handshake tattoos. If you’re furrowing your brows, musing over why anyone would inscribe such a seemingly mundane gesture on their body, stick with me.

By the end of this exploration, not only will you understand its profound significance, but you might find yourself smitten by its charm!

Origins and Cultural Associations of Handshake Tattoos

The art of tattooing has been embedded in human culture for millennia, serving as unique identifiers, status symbols, or expressions of personal beliefs.

When we delve into the handshake’s origins — a gesture you’ve probably offered countless times without a second thought — we unearth a treasure trove of cultural associations and symbolism.

The ancient Greeks, for instance, commonly depicted handshakes on their art and coins, symbolizing unity or a pact between two entities.

Fast forward a few centuries, the Freemasons, a fraternity shrouded in mystery, embraced the handshake as an emblem of brotherhood and mutual recognition.

Different Meanings of Handshake Tattoos

Handshake Tattoos meaning

Handshake tattoos can represent various meanings and symbolize different things depending on the cultural context, personal experiences, or even the artistic style they are portrayed in.

It’s important to note that these meanings can be subjective, and the same tattoo may hold different meanings to different people. That being said, here are some of the common interpretations of handshake tattoos:

Friendship and Unity: A handshake is a common gesture of friendship, agreement, or unity between two people. Hence, a handshake tattoo could symbolize a deep and meaningful friendship, a sense of unity, or a bond between two individuals. It could represent a pact or agreement that holds a significant place in a person’s life.

Trust and Respect: In many cultures, a handshake is a sign of trust and respect. A handshake tattoo could, therefore, symbolize trustworthiness, reliability, and respect for others.

Reconciliation: Handshakes can also symbolize peace, reconciliation, and coming to terms. A handshake tattoo could signify resolving past issues, moving past a conflict, or finding peace in a previously tumultuous relationship.

Partnership: Handshakes often signify a deal or partnership, and in business contexts, they may symbolize a successful negotiation or agreement. Thus, a handshake tattoo could represent a significant partnership or deal in a person’s life, whether in a business context or otherwise.

Memory: Handshake tattoos could also serve as memorials for a particular moment, person, or group of people. For example, it could symbolize a momentous handshake with a significant individual or a representation of a group that one is part of or respects.

Cultural or Group Symbol: In some instances, the handshake may symbolize affiliation to a particular group or culture. For instance, in Freemasonry, the handshake, or “grip,” is a symbol of recognition between Freemasons.

Popular Variations and Creative Interpretations of Handshake Tattoos

Much like the unique stories they represent, handshake tattoos come in a multitude of designs. Some individuals prefer a minimalist approach, capturing the essence of the act with two hands intertwined.

Others lean towards more elaborate designs, incorporating elements like flowers, globes, or hearts, each addition further enriching the symbolic narrative.

Particularly compelling are those tattoos that portray a human hand shaking with a non-human entity — an alien, a skeletal hand, or a robotic hand, to name a few.

These designs drive home the concept of universal connection, a connection that transcends the confines of our human world.

Who Can Go for a Handshake Tattoo?

Who is the ideal bearer of a handshake tattoo? The short answer is: anyone and everyone who finds meaning in the symbol.

Whether you’re a person who deeply cherishes friendships, values commitments, or simply appreciates the aesthetics of the handshake design, this tattoo is a fitting choice.

It’s more than just ink on skin; it’s a tangible homage to the power of human connection, a constant, vivid reminder of our shared humanity.

Why is the Handshake Tattoo Popular?

The allure of the handshake tattoo stems from its uniqueness. It’s not as mainstream as, say, a heart or a butterfly, which adds to its appeal. Its popularity is hinged on the universality of the symbol and the diverse interpretations it accommodates.

It’s not just a tattoo; it’s a conversation starter, a thoughtful nod to the power of connection and unity.

Different Body Parts Ideal for Showcasing Handshake Tattoos

Depending on the design’s complexity and personal preference, a handshake tattoo can be etched on various body parts. The forearm, offering a wide, relatively flat canvas, is a favorite location.

Other body parts such as the chest, back, and calf are also popular choices for showcasing this symbol of unity and agreement.

FAQs: Unraveling the Intricacies

Diving into the world of tattoos, particularly the handshake tattoo, you’re bound to have a few questions. Here, I’ve collated some common queries that arise and endeavored to shed light on these intriguing topics.

Do handshake tattoos have specific cultural significance?

While handshakes generally signify agreement, trust, and unity across many cultures, they can have specific meanings within certain groups. For example, in Freemasonry, different types of handshakes, or “grips,” are used as symbols of recognition between members. However, a handshake tattoo will likely have a personal meaning for the individual who has it.

Is it necessary to have two people in a handshake tattoo?

Not necessarily. While the typical image of a handshake involves two hands coming together, a tattoo could be of a single hand extended outwards, signifying an offering of peace or friendship. The design is up to the individual and the tattoo artist.

Are handshake tattoos associated with any particular style of tattooing?

Handshake tattoos can be done in any style, from traditional to new school, realistic to abstract. The style often depends on the individual’s personal preferences and the tattoo artist’s expertise.

Can a handshake tattoo be a memorial tattoo?

Absolutely. Tattoos often commemorate important people, moments, or relationships in a person’s life. A handshake tattoo could commemorate a significant agreement, a meaningful relationship, or a personal milestone.

How painful is it to get a handshake tattoo?

The pain of getting a tattoo depends on several factors, including your pain tolerance, the location of the tattoo, the size and complexity of the design, and the technique of the tattoo artist. Generally, areas over bony prominences or near nerves tend to be more sensitive. It’s best to discuss any concerns about pain with your tattoo artist before getting the tattoo.

How should I care for my handshake tattoo after getting it?

Tattoo aftercare is crucial to ensure proper healing and longevity of the tattoo. This typically involves keeping the area clean, avoiding submerging it in water for prolonged periods, and using specific lotions or creams to help with healing. Your tattoo artist will provide detailed aftercare instructions after the session.

Can I customize my handshake tattoo?

Absolutely! The beauty of tattoos is their versatility. You can add personal elements to your handshake tattoo or combine it with other symbols to create a design that uniquely narrates your story. Consult with your tattoo artist to explore the various design possibilities.


As we wrap up this deep dive into handshake tattoos, I hope you’ve gained a new appreciation for this unique design. More than a mere depiction of an everyday gesture, the handshake tattoo carries a rich symbolism, intertwined with personal narratives and cultural connotations.

Whether you’re pondering your first tattoo, adding to your collection, or simply indulging in a curiosity about body art, remember — every tattoo has a story.

In the case of the handshake tattoo, it’s a powerful tale of connection, unity, and lifelong pacts, etched forever on the skin.

And who knows, maybe the next time you extend your hand for a shake, you’ll see it as more than just a polite gesture. After all, as we’ve discovered, it’s a symbol carrying centuries of history, potent symbolism, and personal significance. Happy inking!

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About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!