Meanings of Tattoos


Authored by John Watson in Body Arts 
Published on 03-15-2009

Look closely enough at people who are tattooed, and you will begin to notice a common bond between a lot of the designs. Shapes and symbols that are shared by a large cross-section of inked people, a phenomenon that may appear to be a sign of a lack of originality within that group, and although that may often be the case, you should also know that a large number of those designs actually do hold a very symbolic meaning.

For many, particularly the heavily tattooed, tradition and tattooing history play a large part in the symbols they choose. Nautical stars have gained resurgence in popularity, but were originally the choice of many a superstitious sailor that relied on the stars for safe navigation home. Dragons and koi fish, also very popular, are viewed by many as homage to the early Chinese and Japanese tattoo styles that have been around for centuries.

Spirituality is also a very common theme in modern tattoo art, a theme that is captured with the use of angels, crosses and wings. These symbols are often combined in a memorial piece to pay respect to a loved one who has passed. Dragons also fall into the mythical and magical category along with fairies, as well as lions and sun tattoos, both of which are symbols of strength and power.

Another popular set of designs are those which pay respect to a person’s heritage; Celtic knots and crosses are popular among those of Scottish or Irish descent. These designs are an intricate pattern of interwoven lines that make for a very beautiful look. Kanji symbols (Japanese calligraphic letters) are among the most popular tattoo designs going around at this point, the symbols for strength and friendship being among the most popular of the designs.

Tattooing is becoming increasingly popular among females, and with that has come a rise in popularity of flower designs. There are all sorts of different flowers to choose from, each with its own significance; life, death and rebirth are common themes represented by flower tattoos, the most popular of which is the rose and the lotus. Hearts are another symbol that is popular among women, but is also one that has crossed gender boundaries as men often use hearts when getting a tribute tattoo, most commonly done for mom.

There is no right or wrong when choosing any of these designs as it is a very personal choice and each of these symbols will hold a uniquely special meaning for the person getting tattooed.


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