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Plague Doctor Tattoo Meaning Complete Guide!

As you may know, Plague Doctors are one of the most iconic figures for the Middle Ages and, moreover, it has a huge trend between 2020 and 2022, mostly because COVID pandemia.

In this guide, we want show you:

Table of Contents


Realistic Plague Doctor Tattoo

This first example is maybe one of the most classical tattoos for a plague doctor one.

As you can see, it’s done in a realistic tattoo style (and with a very good performance), a lot of detail, and in black and gray ink.

Later on this list you are going to see that black and gray are the most used colors for this kind of tattoo.

The tattoo is done by APSO Tattoo, based in Seoul but with some spots in other countries, like Australia.

What Was a Plague Doctor?

We have to move out into the 14th century.

Back in those days, there was a plague in Europe, it was the bubonic plague time, also known as the Black Plague.

Between 1347 until 1490, this plague killed about 200 million people in the entire world, causing death for one of each three European people.

Yes, 200 million deaths in 150 years. Wow.

But, moreover, in just four years (from 1347 to 1351), 75 million people were killed by this Black Plague.

In this time, Plague Doctors were like an icon all across Europe.

Plague Doctor Outfit

In that ages, full of superstition and with not much science running in the continent, Plague Doctors use to wear:

Long bird-like masks, because they fill the beak with aromatic substances to protect them from the plague (yes, really).

They use gloves so they can touch the ill or dead ones (they do spread the disease too, you know).

And, moreover, they used to wear a black long cloak so they covered their entire body.


Dark Steampunk-like Plague Doctor Tattoo

This design is in black and gray and realistic style too, but it’s just another kind of art completely different, isn’t it?

This time is darker, more between drawing and comic style and, moreover, with this organic and steampunk touch that makes it just perfect.

We do love it.

The tattoo is made by Iper, working at 48920 Tattoo Shop in Bilbao, Spain, but traveling all around Spain.

He is focused on this dark illustration style, and we think you should follow the Instagram account now.

The Meaning for the Plague Doctor Tattoo

Because of this halo between something medical, esoteric, and dark, plague doctor tattoos has some different meaning, and we are going to explain to you the main ones:

Disease and, of course, dead

Well, you know, plague doctors are the one to check the disease, the illness and the dead bodies form the bubonic plague, so the first meaning is about that.

And, moreover, is a reminder of the fragility of life.

But Plague Doctors are for Resilience too!

You know, plague doctors used to be in direct contact with the dead day by day, with a very contagious disease, but they continue with their tasks about taking care of the others and to investigate something they didn’t know about.

And yes, this is resilience. A lot.

Plague Doctors and COVID’19

A trend about plague doctor tattoos always were about some medical tribute to someone who takes care of others, or to remind a lost person but, with COVID’19 pandemic situation, plague doctors were from 2020 until now a huge trend to remind it.


Neo Traditional Plague Doctor Tattoo

Let’s move out from realistic ones to Neo Traditional tattoo style.

As you can see, a lot of black ink, very bold lines, not much detail but a perfect linework.

This is just another technically perfect Neotrad tattoo for the head of a plague doctor everyone has in their minds.

This tattoo is made by Dead Drift Tattoo, in Denver, Colorado.

This tattoo studio has nearly 10 different tattoo artists, but this one is made by David Mendieta, another very talented tattoo artist.

Protection, Protection, Protection

Well, plague doctor’s outfits were not good enough to control the disease, and we now know it, but they do think they were doing all correct to protect themself.

Because of this, and because of the iconography of being the guardian of life, they have a protection meaning too.

Very Steampunk Reference

I cannot imagine something more steampunk than a plague doctor tattoo.

It just has everything to be the perfect steampunk, but about 500 years before.

Just because of this, these kinds of tattoos are fantastic.

Something Mysterious

And, moreover, the outfit for a plague doctor is very mysterious and a little gothic, indeed.

And this darkness is very related with arts, and with tattoos, of course.


Plague Doctor with Webspider Detail

Another nice tattoo for a Plague Doctor, this time in a very cute and delicate illustration in black and gray ink, with two details:

On one hand, a moon and, on the other, some webspiders.

We do like the detail level for the bird-like mask and all this design can transmit.

The tattoo is done by Frangoth, from the Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective, in Roterham, England and, if you like very detailed and delicate tattoos with a perfect linework, you should follow her.

A Little More About Plague Doctor’s Job

Well, we are moving to 1350 again to tell you something more about the main task for the plague doctors, so you can learn more about this figure:

Of course, the main task or job for plague doctors was trying to give medical treatment to the bubonic plague contagious people.

Yes, these treatments do not work at all, but you know, they try hard.

Did you think bureaucracy was invented by us in 1950? Not at all.

Plague doctors record and report the number of cases, deaths and recoveries for the bubonic plague, and this information is gold to understand the epidemic.

Plague Doctors usually were the ones to tell the families that one person has passed away during the bubonic plague.

Moreover, burial practices were adapted to minimize spreading the disease.

Plague Doctors were responsible too for taking care and isolating the patients, something like quarantine areas.

The cloak, gloves, hat and long beak mask were their protective measures, because they thought the Black Plague was contagious by the “bad air”.

Some plague doctors try to develop and optimize these protective measures.

Some more designs for you!

And now, a lot of designs for you so you can get inspired.



NeoTrad With Some Color Plague Doctor Tattoo

Yes, another Neo Traditional Plague Doctor Tattoo but, this time, totally different.

We do love the blackwork in the hat, the shadowing and, moreover, the touch of colors in the eyes, hands and lamp.

Just perfect.

This tattoo is done by Kyle Behr, owner of Royal Hearts Collective, in Spring City, Pennsylvania, and we can say he mixes black and gray with colors very, very well.


Simple Plague Doctor Tattoo

This is the perfect example to illustrate that a simple and cute tattoo can be fantastic too!

As you can see, the drawing is simple, and the black and gray covering is perfect.

We do love this illustration design, like in the old cartoons, with the rat detail.

This tattoo is done by Aly Sidgwick, tattooist at Tool Cross Tattoo Club, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and we can say she is a master in this tattoo style.


Plague Doctor Mask Hyper Realistic Style

And, from simple and cute to hyper realistic.

Nice mix, isn’t it?

What can we say about this tattoo, we do love the detail level for the entire composition, from the hat to the bird-like mask or the eyes.

It’s just another art level.

The tattoo is done by Onur Zafer, working at Flash Ink Gallery, in Istanbul, Turkey, and he is very focused on this very complicated tattoo style.


Colorful Plague Doctor Tattoo

One more time, something simple, cute and… colorful!

The first colorful Doctor Plague tattoo in this list because, you know, the main trend is in black and gray, but you can always be an outsider.

We do love the color palette for this one, bringing the tattoo something different and vibrant.

The tattoo is done by Shannon Laing, working at Devil Town Tattoo, in Glasgow, Scotland and, if you like cute and nice things, you should follow her account.


(Very) Minimalist Plague Doctor Tattoo

Yes, very, very minimalist, completely different and a little bit surrealistic, but we do love it.

We think the linework is fantastic, and the idea itself for mixing a plague doctor with an umbrella, very cool!

The tattoo is done by Kamil Burski, from Good Tattoo Studio in Nottingham, UK, and he is very focused on this kind of simple and very beautiful tattoos.


Illustration Purple Plague Doctor

We do like this nice illustration tattoo for plague doctor because of the different approach, you know, a profile section, simple illustration design but with a very nice shadowing and color palette choice.

This fantastic work is done by Raro Tatuajes, in Santiago de Chile, a tattoo studio with 10 different tattoo artists.


Skeleton Plague Doctor Tattoo

Another different tattoo for plague doctors, this time, something like a negative space one.

We do like it because the blackwork inside is not easy and, moreover, the skeleton detail gives the composition a very strong feeling.

The tattoo is done by Kate Morris, from Staffordshire, in the UK, and we do love it.


Undead Plague Doctor

Let’s move on again into the hyper realistic style, but, instead of the regular plague doctor, this is an undead one.

As you can see, the detail level for the bones, hand and the cup is fantastic.

Yes, this is not a tattoo for everyone, but we do love it more for this darkness.

The tattoo is done by Demiurg Tattoo, in Cracow, Poland, another very talented tattoo artist and illustrator you may follow.


Hyper Realistic and Dotwork Plague Doctor Tattoo

And now, in Hyper Realistic style too but, this time, we want you to keep and eye, not only in the perfect lines for this artwork, but for the dotwork in all the shadowing of this tattoo.

We are just speechless.

This art tattoo is done by Bruno Santos, from Sanctorum Tattoo Studio, in Dublin, Ireland, and we think you should follow him.


Cute Walking Plague Doctor

Another nice, cute and colorful plague doctor tattoo for you!

This time, a walking one (and it seems very happy), in purple, pink and green tones.

We do love it.

This tattoo is done by Mandi Johnson, working at Unkindness Art, in Richmond, Virginia and, if you like this Neotrad tattoo with a nerd point, she is the one.

We do hope you have enjoyed that list about Plague Doctor Tattoos!

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