Bert Grimm´s sun dancer

sun dancer by bert grimm

Another classic in the old school tattoo world is Bert Grimm´s sun dancer. In the original flash, as the native american girl raises her left knee, her right hand holds a spear. In her left hand she holds a shield with an eagle emblazoned on it. A red sun and traditional yellow roses are painted in the background.
Sindy has put all her heart in her own interpretation of Bert Grimm´s sun dancer.

The Ritual

As the title of the painting suggests, a sun dance is depicted. This ritual dance was usually performed mainly by male Indians from southern Canada to North America. In this ritual, a wooden stake, to which a cord was attached, was stung through the chest. On the other side the cord was attached to a pole that was danced for 4 days from sunrise to sunset without shade, food or water. Finally, they let themselves be hang against the ropes with all their weight until the pegs ripped out of their skin. In many tribes the pegs are pulled out by horses, or the dancer pulls a buffalo skull behind him until the skin tears, or he is hung from a tree for a certain time.


The purpose of the piercings is to give men an idea of the suffering that women experience during their fertility phase. A sun dancer learns to understand a woman’s pain when giving birth to a child, to sort out the mystery of blood and pain without having to go to war. However, piercings are not done in all tribes.

The goal of this trance dance is to achieve a “death-like” state through torture. During this other state of consciousness, dancers can have visions that give them answers to important life questions or that raise new ones.

Bert Grimm

Alongside Christian Warlich and Gus Wagner, Bert Grimm was one of the most influential tattoo pioneers. At the age of 11 he already tattooed in shops in Portland and at the age of 12 he bought his first tattoo machine. His life was an adventure. He was an important part of the Buffalo Bill’s show. During the 50s and 60s he tattooed in The Pike, an amusement zone in Long Beach, California. In addition to Bert Grimm´s sun dancer, his sun, tiger and crying heart are still extremely popular as well. Before he died in 1985, he worked in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Honolulu and China.

You can find a few classics by Bert Grimm and other tattoo pioneers in Sindy’s flash book.

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