The history and meaning of sugar skull tattoos
Sugar Skulls are often used to decorate the ofrendas on Dia de los Muertos which is November 1st and 2nd. Smaller skulls are placed on the ofrenda on November 1st, All Saints Day, to represent the children who have deceased. On November 2nd, All Souls Day, they are replaced by larger, more ornate skulls which represent the adults. These decorative skulls have the name of the deceased on the forehead and are decorated with stripes, dots and swirls of icing to enhance the features of the skulls. These designs are usually whimsical and brightly colored, not morbid or scary. Feathers, beads or colored foils are "glued" on with the icing to create highly ornate skulls.
To fully understand the history and meaning of sugar skull tattoos, we need to go back to the culture in where it come from. The Sugar Skull is one of the main symbols or images seen during the Day of the Dead festivities and represents the past ancestors of Mexico. The reason they are called "sugar skulls" is because the authentic sugar skulls were made out of clay molded sugar. The Mexicans would also add the name of a departed soul to the forehead of the sugar skull and then "placed on the gravestone" of the departed loved one to encourage the return of that soul on the Day of the Dead (according to Wikipedia).Skulls were powerful symbols in both Spanish and Mexican Aztec culture in the Middle Ages.
For the Aztecs skulls were a positive symbol, not only of death but also of rebirth.