Walk into any biker bar in the US, and you're guaranteed to see skulls everywhere. Whether it's skull rings, bracelets, or tattoos, skull paraphernalia has always been popular in biker culture.
We see rogue characters wearing them on TV shows like Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead. We also see famous musicians and movie stars wearing them.
But the use of skulls in jewelry began long before Keith Richards wore his famous skull ring. Throughout history, cultures from all over the world have used the human skull in art, ceremonies, and celebrations.
Why the fascination with skulls? And what attracts bikers in particular to the imagery of a skull?
Read on to learn more about skull rings and why they continue to be so popular among bikers.
The Beginning of Biker Culture
Do you know how biker culture got started in the US?
It began just after World War II when over 500,000 veterans returned from battle.
The term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder didn't exist then, but these young soldiers knew the symptoms well. They'd just experienced the horrors of war first-hand and now had no idea how to integrate back into "normal" American life.
At the same time, the US Army was offloading thousands of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Now that the war was over, the army had no further use for them.
Discarded by society, the surplus men and machines formed an unbreakable bond. These young veterans yearned for freedom and peace of mind, and motorcycles provided exactly that.
The ideals of freedom, loyalty, and nonconformity soon drew men and women from all walks of life. As clubs formed around the country, these groups needed different ways to identify and express themselves.
The skull, which represents so many different things, was a perfect choice. Each biker would view the skull in a unique way, based on his or her personal feelings and life experiences.
What Do Skulls Symbolize?
The skull is a universally recognized symbol, but it means different things in different cultures. What are some of the most common ideas associated with skulls?
Throughout all cultures, skulls are a depiction of death. They remind us of our mortality and, for that reason, they're one of the most powerful symbols on earth.
For some, skulls can represent life. The image of a skull may invoke thoughts of an afterlife or the memory of dead loved one.
Skulls are often combined with other elements to convey a certain message. Consider a few popular skull art combinations:
- A skull and crossbones symbolize danger or poison.
- Skulls and crosses often symbolize man's beginning.
- Skulls and butterflies symbolize life's ever-changing nature.
- Skulls and snakes depict immortality or knowledge of the afterlife.
- Skulls and wings depict the freedom associated with death's release from a physical form into a spiritual one.
We've established that skulls have universal meaning and appeal. But what is it about them that's so appealing to biker culture?
Why Skull Rings Remain So Popular
Here are five reasons why skull rings always have been (and always will be) popular for bikers.
1. Mortality...or Immortality?
Many view the skull only as a symbol of death and mortality.
In reality, though, the skull can be a symbol of immortality. It's sometimes all that remains of us after our flesh and the rest of our body is gone.
Even when our bodies and the memory of us is gone, very often our skulls remain intact. No matter how long ago a person died, when we see a skull, we instantly recognize it as human.
2. Acknowledging Fate
All those miles on the road gives bikers a lot of time to think about life. For some of us, skulls rings are a visual acknowledgment of fate.
It's not that we hope we (or anyone else) will die. It has nothing to do with being morbid, reckless, or violent. It's simply recognizing and accepting that death is a part of life.
For some, it may also be a reminder to ride safely. We know that Death rides with us, but we don't want to see it today.
3. Attract (or Repel) People
You'll never meet anyone who has no opinion about a skull. Good or bad, skulls evoke some sort of imagery and emotion in all of us.
When you wear a skull, you're making a statement about yourself. Everyone who sees it will instantly form an opinion about the ring - and you.
For some, they'll feel drawn to the image. Others will feel turned off or even offended by it. Without saying a word, your ring can filter your surroundings and attract the type of people you want as friends.
4. Human Equality
Sometimes we all need a reminder that we're created equal. Skulls and the imagery associated with them have a way of leveling the playing field.
It doesn't matter how rich or powerful you were in life. You're no greater in death than anyone else.
And even though each of our skulls is unique, you can't recognize someone simply by seeing their skull. A hundred years from now, your skull will look exactly the same as everyone else's.
5. Total Commitment
Loyalty and commitment are perhaps the two biggest ideals in biker culture. What better way to symbolize that than with a skull?
Skull rings are a visual reminder of our commitment to our club and to our brothers and sisters. It's also a commitment to our motorcycles, to the open road, and to our entire way of life.
Another reason bikers love skull rings? They're the perfect way to honor the memory of all who came before us.
Skull rings are as much a part of biker culture as the motorcycles we ride. It's a way to express our individuality and, at the same time, our commitment to our lifestyle.
It's a trend that isn't going to change anytime soon.
Are you in the market for a new skull ring for yourself or a friend? Check out our collection of unique skull rings to find the perfect one.