If you’ve ever spent time watching the sand pass through an hourglass then you know just how hypnotizing it can be. As one of the first timers ever invented, the hourglass has long outlived its usefulness. But that doesn’t mean they are any less fascinating. The only hourglass you’ve ever handled was probably made of plastic and came in a board game, but once upon a time, they were as common as a watch or iPhone.
When it comes to tattoos, timepieces are always popular design choices. While we tend to see a lot more pocket watches, there’s definitely no shortage of hourglass tattoos floating around out there, and for good reason. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the best and most well-executed examples of hourglass tattoos in existence. We hope you enjoy this article, and don’t forget to share and save your favorites!
This gorgeous feminine design.
This stunning sketch style hourglass tattoo.
Hourglasses are sometimes referred to as the sand timers, sand watches, sandglasses, or sand clocks. I know, creative huh? While the exact origin of the hourglass isn’t definitively known, scholars believe it most likely originated somewhere in India or perhaps ancient Alexandria. The hourglass was predated by the waterglass, basically the same concept as the hourglass but with water instead of sand. The oldest known reference to the hourglass was a painting on the top of an ancient sarcophagus discovered in the 18th century in Rome.
This ornamental hourglass tattoo.
This cute hourglass tattoo with hanging stars.
This cosmic watercolor design.
Is that really sand inside?
The short answer is yes. Many hourglasses did use sand and still do to this day. However, many experiments were conducted to find a medium that offered the most consistent flow, especially during the time that hourglasses were relied upon for scientific and day-to-day tasks. Aside from sand, the hourglass was filled with crushed marble, tin and lead oxides, and even crushed eggshells. Experts soon found out that in order to achieve the most ideal and consistent flow, a ratio of granular bead to neck width should be 1/12 but not greater than 1/2 the width of the neck of the bulb.
This sketch style design.
This subtle hourglass tattoo.
This romantic design.
This geometric hourglass tattoo.
In use today.
Today the hourglass is used mainly for traditional and novelty purposes. Many board games, such as Boggle and Pictionary, include an hourglass to time turns. In a more official capacity, the Australian government keeps a few hourglasses to time procedural hearings. You can also find hourglasses in many home goods stores sold as egg timers.
This watercolor back shoulder piece.
This landscape design.
This tiny hourglass tattoo on back.
This large halftone abstract design.
This soft dotwork design.
This tiny wrist tat.
This beautiful floral design.
This cool forearm piece.
This neo traditional hourglass tattoo.
This colorful dotwork design.
At one point in time, the hourglass was considered cutting edge technology. From churches to homes, hourglasses were a common sight for anyone who could afford one. But no where were hourglassess as important as on the sea. Mariners used them to calculate longitude and latitude and were by far the most reliable way to measure time at sea.
The popularity of the hourglass started to decline during the 15th century. Thanks in most part to technological advances in mechanical clocks which allowed them to be made smaller, more people were ditching their hourglasses for clocks.
This awesome watercolor style.
This large chest piece.
This creative design.
This delightful design.
This wonderful watercolor design.
This breathtaking dotwork design.
Geometric and watercolor.
This surreal thigh piece.
This blackwork hourglass.
These matching hand tats.
Throughout history, the hourglass has come to represent the passage of time. The difference between the past and the future. In centuries past, many cultures placed an hourglass symbol on coffins and gravestones to represent the sands of time.
In more recent times, most people probably remember the hourglass for its omnious role in modern-day computing. Remember when your pointer use to turn into an hourglass to tell you to wait patiently while your computer loads? While that feature is no longer used, it’s pretty safe to say that the hourglass will forever be remembered as a downer to more recent generations.
This wacky sketched hourglass.
This elegant back shoulder tat.
This shattered watercolor hourglass.
This cool wrist tat.
This naturalistic hourglass tattoo.
This black and grey ink hourglass.
This pixellated piece.
This pretty hourglass design.
This gold hourglass tattoo.
This worldly hourglass.
This elegant dotwork hourglass.
This London hourglass tattoo.
This mini hourglass tattoo.
This bicep tat.
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