When you were young, your teacher told you that there are other ways to write numbers. There are Hindu-Arabic numerals and there are Roman numerals. At first, it was confusing to read Roman numerals simply because they were letters. But as you grow older you’ll notice that Roman numerals are not just some fancy way of depicting numbers.
History of Roman Numerals
Roman numerals have long since existed before anyone of us was born. Experts claim that the Roman numerals were created during the time of Ancient Rome. During this time, the ancient civilization was starting to erect large structures and to explore trade with neighboring territories. The Romans have noticed that their old counting system (such as the use of hands and adding lines on hand signs) was not enough to depict things in thousands and millions. Hence, the Roman numerals were born.
What Are The Roman Numerals And Where Did They Come From?
There are several theories as to where the Romans have taken the form of their numbers. The first theory was that the first few Roman numerals were based on hand counting. The “I” was based on the fingers while the “V” signified the V-shape that the thumb and index fingers create to show five counts.
On the other hand, there is also a theory that the Romans patterned the numerals to the sticks that shepherds use to tally their sheep or their produce. You will notice that there are also some similarities in both I and V.
Here are the 7 Roman numerals and their so-called origins.
- I – This is either based on the sticks that shepherds use to tally things. It can also be based on the fingers that a lot of tradesmen use when counting items for exchange and business.
- V – If you follow the first theory of Roman Numerals, then the V comes from the shape created by the thumb and the index finger.
- X – X was taken from the figure that two hands can make when they intersect each other. Others claim that two hands were used because 10 fingers (aka 2 hands) count up to 10. An X can also be created by crossing the two thumbs together.
- L – The value for 50 did not come as directly as the hand signals did in other numbers. Instead, the L was taken from the letter psi (Ψ) in the Greek alphabet which looks more like a “T” than an L. However, as time passed by, the symbol was converted to an L for easier writing.
- C – Speculation says that the C numeral came from the Greek alphabet theta. The “C” could have also come from the word centrum which is the Latin word to describe a hundred.
- D – Similar to other characters in the Roman numerals, the letter “D” could have come from any combination of C and I. However, its origins are unknown as well as the Greek alphabet that it could have come from.
- M – The Roman numeral to signify a thousand wasn’t always an M. In fact, it started out as CIƆ which was used to represent “phi” or Φ. And after time passed, the symbols looked a lot more like an “M” so people adopted the letter to depict a thousand in Roman numerals.
Other Things To Consider Before Getting Inked
Getting a tattoo is probably one of the bigger decisions you have to make in terms of body art. Like other things that require needles, you are expected to think long and hard about whether you want a tattoo or not. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind before you get inked.
Do you really want it?
Before you even look at tattoo designs, you should first ask yourself if you really want it and why you want it. Although there is nothing wrong in want a tattoo because it’s the trend, it might help you appreciate your tattoo for the long-term if your reason for getting it is sentimental.
The problem with people joining the bandwagon is that some end up regretting getting a tattoo because it does not look good on them as they age. To avoid situations like these, make sure that your want of a tattoo can stand the test of time.
Are you prepared for a huge commitment?
Aside from getting to choose your own design and attaching a meaning to your tattoo, another thing that is famous about this body art is its permanence. When it comes to tattoos, they are able to stand the test of time because once they’re applied into your skin, there’s no way of removing them unless you go through painful and lengthy surgeries.
This is not meant to scare you, but if you know that you are not ready for something as long-term as forever, maybe a permanent tattoo is not for you. To get a feel of what this entails, you can start by getting henna tattoos that last for a few weeks to a month.
How high is your pain tolerance?
Your pain tolerance is a factor in determining how painful and uncomfortable getting a tattoo is. If you’ve asked those who have had tattoos, you will get answers like “It’s not painful”, “It was awkward”, “It’s uncomfortable”. These varying answers are due to the many different levels of pain tolerance.
If you know that you easily get uncomfortable or scared when you see needles, then you might not be right for a tattoo. But if you still want to get one, make sure that you place your Roman numeral tattoo in a muscular body part so you won’t feel too much pain.
Are you ready to have one?
When you know that the permanence of a tattoo does not matter to you, then this is enough motivation to start picking designs and choosing the right tattoo artist. This is the exciting part because you get to be hyped on researching on the meaning of your tattoo and how it will look on a certain area on your body. However, don’t book that tattoo appointment yet when you know you aren’t ready.
When it comes to getting a tattoo, don’t go to your tattoo appointment (or don’t even book one yet) if you aren’t physically or mentally ready. If you know that you are still recovering from something or that you just came from an illness, then don’t get in a hurry to book your tattoo appointment.
Where will you put it?
Finally, you want to ask yourself where you want to put your Roman numeral tattoo. This is important because where you want to put it affects the amount of pain or discomfort you will feel. The more sensitive the area is, the more painful the tattoo will be. At the same time, areas that are close to the bones will feel more uncomfortable since there is a tendency that you feel the movement and buzzing of the needle.
The placement also affects the design of your Roman numeral tattoo. There are placements that are better to have small tattoo designs while there are some that are able to emphasize big tattoos well. In the section below, you will know more about where you can put your tattoo.
Body Placements For Your Roman Numeral Tattoo
Roman numeral tattoos can be placed anywhere simply because they can easily be scaled. Unlike other designs, Roman numeral tattoos look good when they’re small and also when they’re big. Because they’re characters, they also don’t have to be very detailed unless your design includes other elements to form a certain Roman numeral.
With that said, here are a few body placements for this tattoo.
Behind The Ear
The area behind the ear is starting to become a famous spot for small tattoos. Since this area is very close to the skull, it is a lot more painful and uncomfortable to have a tattoo here. However, a lot of people say that it is worth it since this place can be easily hidden by your ear and your hair.
The nape is not exactly a tiny space where you can put your tattoo. In reality, you can always make use of your whole neck for different tattoos. However, in the case of Roman numeral tattoos, they are better placed at the lower center of your nape. Why? Because the characters, when placed at the middle, show a certain symmetry to your neck.
Above The Elbow
Unlike the nape and the ear, the place just above your elbow is not a common tattoo placement. This is simply because the area is hard to hide since long sleeves aren’t always the best attire for a lot of occasions. Nonetheless, a Roman numeral tattoo here will still look simple and subtle especially when you only have a few numerals to place.
The inner wrist is another common place to put a small tattoo on. The inner wrist is a small area that you can easily hide using bangles and long sleeves. If you have a low pain tolerance, then you are not advised to put a tattoo here since there are nerves and bones in the area.
The shoulders are literally edgy canvasses that will surely emphasize your Roman numeral tattoo. Even if you choose to have a small tattoo in this area, it will still look beautiful because the shape of the shoulders adds an appeal to it. On the other hand, if you have medium- or large-sized tattoos, then you can always extend it to your back.
It was just mentioned that you can always extend large tattoos to the back if it doesn’t fit your shoulders (not that there’s any boundary between them). So, if you plan on having large tattoos, then your back is the perfect canvas. It’s wide and long and it can easily be hidden if you don’t want others to see.
But apart from the popular large tattoo designs that are placed at the very middle of your back, you can also just use a part of your back for medium-sized tattoos. You don’t need to fill your back with one large tattoo.
Just to the side of your back is your ribcage. This area is a good place for hidden tattoos because you barely expose your ribcage to the public. If you plan to have a medium-sized Roman numeral tattoo, then this area should definitely be something to consider. However, the skin above your ribcage is thin and close to your ribs so expect to have a little discomfort.
A not so unique placement for tattoos is the arms. The arms are famous for being a very exposed body part so those who want to flash their tattoo around can do it by placing the Roman numeral here. Another great thing about the arms is they’re not sensitive. The arms are relatively more muscular than your back and ribcage so there will be less pain in this area. You can also have more flexibility in placing a Roman numeral here because you can put it horizontally or vertically and it will not look out of place.
6 Elements That You Can Add To Your Roman Numeral Tattoo
Roman numerals are very straightforward. In fact, there are a lot of people who just choose to have plain Roman numeral tattoos on their body without any other element in the background. But if you’re looking for a different touch to your tattoo, then adding these elements can help.
Although Roman numerals aren’t the norm when it comes to depicting numbers, they are still often seen in clocks where the numbers used are in the form of Roman numerals. If you feel that plain Roman numerals are too boring, you can add more meaning and design to your tattoo by adding an old-fashioned clock.
A clock symbolizes a lot of things but most of them are associated with the element of time. Clock designs are not popular, yet they give a deep meaning to any other element beside it. If you haven’t figured it out yet, clocks are symbols of life, death, and understanding that everything takes its own time.
Even if it sounds feminine, a rose design can be as popular on men as it is on women. Depending on the color of the rose, its meaning also differs. However, roses often mean hope and life. Even as they are very fragile flowers, they are able to withstand struggles because of the thorns that protect them.
A Block Of Stone
No, you aren’t going to add a block of stone right beside your Roman numeral tattoo. Instead, you will make it look like the Roman numerals you want to add are engraved on a rock. In this way, your tattoo adds more context. It also makes the tattoo look more dimensional than just having them in plain and flat characters.
Quotes are another way of adding more character to Roman numerals. Roman numerals alone don’t give a straightforward meaning unless the person seeing your tattoo knows the significance of the number or date you have tattooed on your skin. So, if you want to easily add context so that people don’t ask you all the time, you can add a quote related to the Roman numerals you have.
The infinity symbol is often used to describe undying love or care for someone. If your Roman numerals signify a date that is special to you and your partner, then adding an infinity symbol can add a timeless meaning to your tattoo. You can also use the Roman numerals to form the infinity symbol itself.
A Different Font
If you want to keep the Roman numerals alone and you don’t want to add other elements, then you can simply change the font of the characters. Most people prefer the font Times New Roman because it suits Roman numerals well, but you can always use other fonts. There are fonts that are associated with Roman and Greek characters like Courier New, Papyrus, and Garamond. If you plan on adding quotes, then you can use a totally different font style, too.
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Taking Care Of Your Roman Numeral Tattoo
You’ve finally gotten a tattoo and you’re now ready to walk out of the studio and show off your body art. But wait! Getting a tattoo does not stop once the design is already on your skin. In fact, the tedious part is just starting. Here are a few things you should do to maintain your tattoo.
Listen to your tattoo artist.
Each tattoo artist has their own advice when it comes to taking care of a tattoo. Some simply apply moisturizing lotion on the tattoo once it’s done while others apply a transparent bandage so it’s kept safe from infection. Regardless of the difference, it is guaranteed that your tattoo artist knows the best way to take care of your tattoo so just follow his or her advice and your tattoo will remain in good quality.
Wash it after 6 hours.
You are only allowed to wash your tattoo after six hours. This is because the moisturizing lotion applied to your tattoo is meant to make the tattoo ink bond more to the molecules of your skin. Rinsing this off early on can damage the lasting effect of the tattoo and it might cause early discoloration.
There is a right way to wash a tattoo. First, use lukewarm water and pour it over the tattoo. Next, use fragrance-free soap because you want to avoid any unnecessary allergic reactions to the mixture of the ink and the soap. It would also be better if you use a soap that has a rich lather because you shouldn’t rub the soap against the tattoo. Gently put soap on your tattoo and rinse it off with lukewarm water again. After, pat it dry with a clean towel and avoid scrubbing the towel on your skin.
Moisturize it every day.
Every tattoo artist will tell you to keep your tattoo moisturized. Why? This is because the molecules of the lotion will reinforce your skin and the tattoo ink to bond so that the tattoo itself doesn’t get ruined and its quality will stay intact.
As much as possible, keep your tattoo moisturized every time you take a shower. If you don’t have moisturizing lotion, you can substitute it with petroleum jelly, too. Do this for at least two weeks to ensure that you get the best results for your Roman numeral tattoo.
Keep it out of the sun.
Another important reminder when it comes to taking care of your tattoo is to keep it out of the sun. Sun exposure for your tattoo is not only harmful but it can also cause discoloration especially during the early weeks of your tattoo. If you have plans to go to the beach, best postpone it or wear something that will cover your tattoo. This will avoid any harm that will come to it due to the sun’s UV rays.
Don’t soak it in water for a long time.
Aside from the sun, what you should also try to avoid is soaking your tattoo in water. This is because water holds a lot of bacteria even if you think it doesn’t. As much as possible, you want to keep your tattoo protected from these things because it might get infected.
After following these aftercare tips, you can now enjoy your new Roman numeral tattoo. Don’t forget that you can always go back to the tattoo artist if you want to give a retouch to your tattoo or if you plan on getting a new one.