Dice and dice games have been around for centuries. A 5000 year old board game, backgammon, was found in Iran, and included the original die. Seemingly originating in Asia, dice games and gambling are mentioned in the Bible and were popular in Ancient Greece. Ancient dice discovered have been made from bone, ivory, wood, metal and stone. Most commonly, though, they were made from human ankle bones or the hooves of animals.
Since these ancient times, a dice is synonymous with gambling and games of chance. Rolling dice involves no great skill and no amount of talent is likely to alter the outcome of a fair dice. For this reason, dice tattoos often represents luck, an uncertain future, or risk taking.
Gambling, by design, involves a great amount of luck. People who enjoy gambling, who view themselves as particularly luck, or who want a tattoo that brings them luck might get a dice tattoo with a lucky or good outcome, like seven.
Flaming dice designs that show these good numbers, like the example of seven, usually mean a great amount of luck or an intense love of gambling. Contrastingly, a pair of snake eyes, or two dice that both show ones, is a tattoo design that is very unlucky, and could symbolize the dangers of gambling. In the same way, a burning pair of snake eyes would mean that the person is either incredibly unlucky or wishes to illustrate how intensely perilous gambling is.
Taking chances is the same as taking risks. Those who take risks or who feel life is an uncertain gamble are also drawn to dice tattoos. It is impossible to predict the outcome of a roll of dice, unless weighted or crooked dice are used. Dice tattoos can symbolize that it is still important or worth taking those chances.
Sometimes, dice will be incorporated into a larger design of the luck motif. Dice often appear as part of Lady Luck, the personification and bringer of good fortune, or surrounded by other lucky symbols, like clovers, horseshoes, and lucky numbers.
Interestingly, dice are frequently used in tattoos that show the perils of taking unwarranted chances. Tattoos like this often include symbols like seductive women, alcohol, drugs, playing cards, skulls, and flames, along with banners stating the risks of vices and bad luck.
Dice tattoos are also found as one of the myriad of symbols in prison or gang tattoos. While a dice tattoo might be an obvious symbol for a gambler, it can also be used to represent more abstracted ideas. Snake eyes tattoos can represent a personal loss while a dice showing the number five can illustrate isolation, because the single dot in the center is trapped within the other four and is all alone.
It is remarkable that a simple dice tattoo can represent such a drastic and differing range of meanings. Oftentimes, the style and additional design information can help to explain the specific meaning of each individual dice tattoo. Those considering dice tattoos might also contemplate adding a banner or motto to the design which could explicitly explain the purpose of the tattoo.
Thousands of dice or chance quotations, like “the die is cast” by Julius Caesar or “not only does God play dice, He throws them where we cannot see” by Steven Hawking, can be used to emphasize the meaning of a dice tattoo.