- Tattoo meanings
- Color tattoos
- Japanese tattos
- Shape tattos
- Tribal tattos
- Tattoos on scars and burns
- History of tattoo
- Permanent makeup
- Men as well as women
- Busy people with little time to apply makeup
- People with allergies to conventional makeup
- Anyone who desires freedom from daily makeup application
- Those who are physically incapable of applying makeup
- Those who are active in sports
- Those with oily skin who tend to shed makeup easily
- Burn survivors and people with flaws in their skin
- Those suffering from alopecia and vitiligo
- Men and women who seek correction of asymmetrical facial features
- Entertainers, actresses, and models – such as Elizabeth Taylor, Dolly Parton, Raquel Welch, Cher, and others
- Men and women who wish to look their best all of the time!
Alligator — stealth, survival
Ant — diligence, industry, community, remarkable strength, hard working, success, patience
Antelope — action
Armadillo — boundaries, self protection
Badger — aggressiveness, passion and drive
Bat — rebirth, longevity, joy, good luck
Bear — gentle strength, dreaming, introspection, power, protection
Beaver — builder, accomplishing goals
Bee — divine messenger, love, service, gathering, community
Bird — enlightenment, perspective, swiftness, vision, prophetic knowledge
Boar — nature-based wealth, prosperity, success, protection, courage
Buffalo — prayer, abundance, survival needs met, good fortune, healing
Bulls horns — a good symbol in meditation for motivation
Butterfly — rebirth, the soul, transformation, the three phases of life
Cat — feminine energy, mystical power, used to keep the wearer safe in travel, wholeness
Chameleons — ever-changing future, inconsistency
Cheetah — speed, focus
Cougar — power, swiftness, balance
Cows — red cows are a symbol of hope, inspiring symbol for nurturing efforts
Coyote — trickster
Crane — longevity. A pair of cranes symbolizes «Long Marriage»
Cricket — good luck charm, singing, Spring, fertility
Crow — sacred law, gateway to supernatural, shape shifting, illusion
Deer — graceful gentleness, sensitivity, compassion, kindness
Dog — companionship, health, service, loyalty, protection, future prosperity
Dolphin — manna, joy, childlike play, helpfulness, breath of life, harmony, intelligence, self connection
Donkey — fertility, easy childbirth, efficiency, health, well-being, and luck
Dove — peace, innocence, fidelity, love, gentleness, kindnes
Dragonfly — good fortune, magic, vision, dreams, luck, and ancient knowledge, illusion
Dragon — wisdom due to long lives and potent magic, royalty, Emperor, eternity, courage, strength, rain, Spring Eagle — courage, spirit, bravery, strength
Elephant — commitment, strength, astuteness
Elk — stamina, pride, power, majesty
Fish — miracles, providence, sea/water magic, good luck and prosperity, foresight, fortune, salmon in particular, are associated with knowledge
Fox — camouflage, adaptability, integration, tricksters, shape shifters, and possessors of great magic
Frog — healing, cleansing, messages, health, honesty, fluidity, purification
Gazelle — awareness
Giraffe — grounded vision
Goat — tenacity, diligence, can help to achieve goals, endure criticism, and stay safe. Goat’s fur or foot — an anti-evil talisman.
Goose — safe return, love of home
Grasshopper — nobility, prosperity
Hawk — nessenger, strength, foresight, truth
Hippopotamus — emotional depths
Horses — power, stamina, speed, transportation and communication — A black horse with a white marking on its forehead is lucky
Hummingbird — joy, pure love, celebration of life
Ladybug — delight, trust
Lamb — filial piety (dutiful respect or regard for parents).
Lion (baby) cubs — inspire mercy and gentleness.
Lion (grown) — inspire strength, courage
Lions — pride, nobility, cunning, courage, just laws, fairness, the sun, images can protect sacred ground. Lizard — dreaming, foresight, ancient secrets
Lynx — secrets
Monkey — benevolence, drives away evil
Moose — self-esteem, assertiveness
Mountain Lion — wisdom, leadership
Mouse — frugality, rebirth, scrutiny
Opossum — strategy, diversion
Otter — medicine (woman), balanced feminine energy
Owl — deception, wisdom, clairvoyance, magic
Ox — evil spirits that disturb lakes, rivers, and seas
Peacock — wholeness, dignity, beauty, recognition, self assurance, pride
Pig — rebirth and rejuvenation
Porcupine — innocence
Rabbit — fear, fertility, moon magic, speed, swiftness, longevity, courage, strength
Raccoon — dexterity, disguise
Raven — magic
Robin — growth, renewal
Rooster — courageous, warlike disposition, warmth and life of the Universe
Scorpion — the «fire within» that often needs careful tending
Seal — inner voice
Sheep — sacrifice
Snake — cunning, evil, supernatural power
Spider — destiny, fate, weaving
Squirrel — gathering
Swan — grace
Tiger — courage, bravery, fierceness, strength, being in the now
Turtle — mother earth
Weasel — stealth
Whale — record keeper
Wolf — teacher, A Guide to the Sacred
Zebra — Individuality
Animal tattoo meanings and what it could represent:
ALLIGATOR tattoos can mean spiritual aspects that are self-serving, can denote a person who attacks out of nowhere, people who lie in wait and then attack, a person with vicious speech which is destructive
ANT tattoos can mean cooperation with others
APE tattoos can mean cautions against loss of individuality, pretending to be someone who you are not, aping someone, being a copycat instead of your true self. A symbol of malice and ugliness. The ape was a holy animal in ancient India, the god Hanuman, as in the epic Ramayana. He is a symbol of strength, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. In the Chinese Zodiac, the ape is the ninth sign. The ape is the calendar symbol in ancient Mexican cultures, lending its name (in Aztec Ozomatli, in Mayan Ba’tz) to the the day of the month. The ape was a god of dance, and those born under this sign were expected to become jugglers, pranksters, dancers, or singers. In ancient mexico, the ape represents the wind. In the ancient Mexican myth of periodic «ends of the world», the second era or «sun,» the wind-sun, was ended by devastating tornadoes, and the humans of this era were transformed into apes. Apes in chains represent the «devil» vanquished. It is a symbol of insecurity and doubt about one’s own role in life as well as immodesty.
BABOON tattoos can mean immaturity or lack of individuality. Thoth, the god of wisdom, though sometimes appearing with the head of an ibis, frequently appears as an old, white caped baboon.
BADGER tattoos can mean a person with a ‘nagging’ personality, usually one who interferes with another’s life. It is a symbol of vice, afraid of the light, and lives in the dark. The badger represents avarice because it lives on it’s own body fat.
BAT tattoos can mean the use of spiritual intuition in all aspects of life
BEAGLE tattoos can mean refers to a sympathy seeking friend
BEAR tattoos can mean an overbearing personality of a friend or situation, someone who can crush another with just a look or a word This negative creature is used in the business world also to denote a negative situation. Fighting and winning a battle with a bear denotes the triumph of Christ over the devil. In China, the bear symbolizes strength, Dreaming of a bear sometimes foretells the birth of a son.
BEAST tattoos can mean crude or unacceptable behavior
BEAVER tattoos can mean the ability to recognize one’s spiritual aspects at «home» while balancing and utilizing«life’s» opportunities, industrious
BEE tattoos can mean industrious and cooperative teamwork and denotes diligence and a sense of order. A beeswarm suggests an overwhelming situation Being stung by a bee can represent a negative situation. Dreaming of a bee flying away can symbolize death as the bee is the soul, but if the bee flies into the mouth of the dead person, that person will come back to life. In the mediterranean civilizations, the bee was seen to be brave, chaste, industrious, clean and lives harmoniously. The Christians looked upon the bee hive as the church and the bees as the parishioners, who collected only the best from all the flowers. They were symbols of purity and abstinence. In the secular world, the bee was a royal symbol and the queen bee was long regarded as a King. The sweetness symbolised Christ and his mercy. The sting was felt to be the last judgment.
BEETLE tattoos can mean negative interference’s in one’s life situations
BIGFOOT tattoos can mean aspects of reality that are not accepted
BIRD tattoos can mean personality characteristics, usually high characteristics of beauty, joy and love that transcendent quality that lifts man from his lower self to his higher self, from the material world to the spiritual world — see specific bird type for other connotations A dark, ugly bird can denote a person’s state of love in the negative context. To see a bird fly can symbolize the desire to fly free or to reach heaven like the angels.
BIRD OF PARADISE tattoos can mean extravagant and elaborate thoughts. On the positive side, it can symbolize lightness, closeness to God, and removal from worldly concerns as well as the Virgin Mary.
BLACKBIRD tattoos can mean an omen
BLUEBIRD tattoos can mean spiritual joy and contentedness, foretells happy conditions in one’s life
BLUEJAY tattoos can mean spiritual joy and contentedness
BOAR tattoos can mean a haughty personality, or a bore to others, an aggressive animal, It has a reputation as a symbol of unflinching courage and ferocity. In christian iconology, the boar is a symbol of Christ. It is however primarily of diabolical forces as in the case of tyrants. To the celts it symbolised military courage and strength.
BOOKWORM tattoos can mean a tendency to accumulate knowledge without applying it
BUFFALO tattoos can mean gullibility, or perseverance
BUG tattoos can mean irritations in daily life.
BULL tattoos can mean a tendency toward narrow-mindedness, in the business world however, denotes a positive situation, a driving force,a rapidly rising market. Seeing a bull with a distorted head means stubbornness and ‘bullheadedness’. It generally symbolizes vitality and masculine strength. Bulls were worshipped in many religions especially as symbols of potency and for their horns which resemble the lunar crescent. The bull Taurus is the second sign of the Zodiac. (April 21 to May 21) an earth sign. Those born under the sign are said to be clumsy earthbound, tenacious, and powerful. This sign is ruled by the planet Venus which connects the love goddess to the bull.
BUTTERFLY tattoos can mean renewal and rejuvenation, the ability to bounce back from setbacks or disappointments, a transformation of spirituality. They stand for beauty and metamorphosis. It symbolizes the human soul. In Japan, the butterfly symbolizes young womanhood. Two butterflies dancing about one another symbolize marital happiness. In China, the butterfly symbolizes long life and beauty.
CAMEL tattoos can mean stubborn and stupid beast of burden. They have very bad attitudes. Can denote arrogance and haughtiness. They denote negative reactions. It also denotes obedience, tenacity and perseverance on the good side.
CANARY tattoos can mean either a joyful emotion or on the negative side a gossip situation.
CAT tattoos can mean an independent nature, or can denote negative personality or situations. It can mean uncooperativeness and isolation as well. To see a black cat denotes bad luck. To see oneself petting a cat can mean you get pleasure from negative emotions. Concern over the health of a cat can mean concern over a destruction habit. Seeing the death of a cat can mean the death of a negative aspect of oneself which is spiritual progress. Seeing black and white cats denotes seeing the good and bad sides of oneself, both the constructive and destructive side. To have a cat disappear represents shows the power of good intentions to succeed.
CATERPILLAR tattoos can mean stage of life prior to transition into next phase of life and a need to prepare oneself To see a caterpillar eating leaves denotes the destructive activity to destroy one’s spiritual life.
CATTLE tattoos can mean a lack of self-confidence or individuality
CHICKEN tattoos can mean a feeling of fear or reluctance to face situation in life Seeing a chicken with it’s head cut off signifies hysterical futility because the person is not using their head. It can be a symbol for timidity or lack of courage.
CHIHUAHUA tattoos can mean that you do not underestimate the power or abilities of the other person in a situation
CHIMPANZEE tattoos can mean immaturity or lack of individuality
CICADA tattoos can mean ‘elevated’ poetry, immortality or life after death. A stylized cicada form represents«loyalty to one’s principles.
COCKERSPANIEL tattoos can mean companionship, a faithful friend, good associations
COCKROACH tattoos can mean major irritations or disruptions in one’s physical, mental, or spiritual life.
COLLIE tattoos can mean a faithful friend, to see one blocking ones way, however, means that something is blocking your spiritual path.
COUGAR tattoos can mean quiet strength and wisdom
COW tattoos can mean compassion and expression of that emotion It stands for the maternal nurturing powers of the earth. It is a universally positive force. In India the sacred cow symbolizes fertility and abundance. Slow moving cows denote inner reluctance to do something in daily life
CRAB tattoos can mean a negative personality or situation, if multiple crabs are seen, it might denote a sexual disease. Crabs move backwards so denotes misfortune. In Christian symbology, the crab sheds its shell refers to«casting off the old Adam» and resurrection from the confines of the grave. It can symbolize ‘great flooding’. The fourth sign of the Zodiac, (June 23 to July 22) Cancer is a water sign, and ‘feminine’. Cancer is the house of the Moon and it’s metal is silver. Astrologers associate Cancer with pregnancy, imprisonment, baptism, and rebirth and the awakening of the consciousness.
CRANE tattoos can mean a sense of inquisitiveness. This is a symbol of renewal and of Christ resurrected. In China, it is a symbol of longevity, also for wisdom. A crane soaring toward the sun denotes desire for ‘social elevation’. In the legends of India, however, it denotes deceit and knavery. It has also been denoted as a symbol of vigilance. See the other dream symbols to see if this symbol is positive or negative.
CRAYFISH tattoos can mean withdrawal from a responsibility or situation
CROW tattoos can mean clear messages or straight talk
DACHSHUND tattoos can mean caution against the tendency to make physical aspects of oneself too important, a high interest in materialism
DALMATIAN tattoos can mean a traveling companion, since they are black and white can represent the right and wrong of a situation, the positive and negative sides, the faithful and unfaithful.
DEER tattoos can mean rejuvenation, rebirth, and the passage of time. The deer’s antlers represent the sun’s rays. In China, the deer symbolizes wealth and filial piety. In heraldry, the deer represents gentleness and mildness and long life. In Christianity, the deer striving to reach a spring denotes the desire of purification through baptism. The term ‘stag’ refers to a gentlemen attending a social party without a female at his side, such as a ‘stag party’.
DINOSAUR tattoos can mean an overwhelming situation or a highly demanding, manipulative individual. The dinosaur represents one’s own primitive state of being. Killing the beast represents overcoming one’s own lower nature.
DOBERMAN PINCHER tattoos can mean a person who represents the law-abiding factor in one’s life.
DOE — Despite the gentle appearance of a doe, it has a demonic attribute according to mythological legends.
DOG tattoos can mean The first primary symbol is one of loyalty, vigilance and intelligence. Dogs are said to be able to see ‘ghosts’ and thus warn us of invisible dangers. A dark dog can denote negative aspects in one’s life, a black dog were thought to be companions to witches. Hell-hounds are said to accompany Satan. In the Muslim world, the dog is considered to be unclean, but a watchdog is tolerated. In ancient Mexico, a dog was sacrificed and buried with a dead person to guide it’s soul to the afterlife. In China, the dog is the 11th sign of the Chinese Zodiac with both positive and negative symbolisms. A white dog can denote a spiritual aspect and guidance that needs to be followed ; a sleeping dog shows one is unaware of what is going on, a dog pulling a sled is a helpful friend, In a dream, first look at the behavior of the dog to see whether it is positive or negative because a dark colored dog can be a sign of depression or ferocity as well. A snappy little dog can mean a bad temper. Washing a white dog represents a need to cleanse oneself of a bad aspect of oneself. -Also see separate article on wolf/dogs.
DOLPHIN tattoos can mean dolphins are intelligent and human-friendly. They have been noted to save lives. In Estruscan art, the dolphin carries the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
DONKEY tattoos can mean an independent personality — perhaps stubborn. It represents procreation and fertility. It is also looked upon as a ridiculous character. In Christianity, it symbolizes the Gentiles. It was used in both the ‘birth’ and ‘riding into Jerusalem’ scenes of Christ. In the doubting Thomas scene, the donkey represents insufficient faith as donkey’s accompanied him.
DOVE tattoos can mean a peaceful nature or condition — may be a religious or spiritual sign from God or a spiritual guide. It represents love and tenderness. It can mean an ‘inner’ initiation, such as the descent of the Holy Ghost as in Matthew 3::16 when Jesus Christ was baptized In the Bible, the dove was used to symbolize the end of the Flood, and represents the Holy Spirit. It was used at Jesus Baptism, the Annunciation, the Holy Trinity, and divine inspiration. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are represented by seven doves, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Doves also stand for the newly baptized. Doves are also shown flying out of the mouths of dying martyrs. The dove is the symbol for the soul in India. In China, it stands for marital fidelity and longevity. It is also a sign of fertility. The cooing of a dove is preferable to a ‘booing’. We should speak with a ‘coo’ rather than with harshness.
DRAGON tattoos can mean the untamed natural world, a violent primeval creature. It represents the bestial element which must be defeated with strength and discipline. The Satanic element. However, in the Occidental world, the dragon is associated with happiness, produces the potion of immortality, and represents the primal essence ‘yang’. It stands for procreation, fertility, activity, and wards off evil spirits. It is the 5th sign of the Chinese zodiac a symbol of the East and the rising sun. However, the white dragon represents the West and death. In Japan, it represents the rain-divinity.
DUCK tattoos can mean spiritual vulnerability, inner strength perhaps not quite strong enough to handle situations yet
EAGLE tattoos can mean self-confidence, intellectual freedom, pursuing unconventional concepts or issues The eagle can symbolize the thymus center of the body which is related to love. In America the eagle stands for freedom with responsibility. It is also the symbol of Mexico. The eagle also represents baptism and high flying is seen as Christ’s ascension. It is the symbol of triumph of light over the darker forces.It represents energy, renewal, contemplation, acuity of vision, royal bearing, justice. In Freemasonry, the double headed eagle stands for the 33rd Degree of the Scottish Rite. Until the early 20th Century, it also was used in the symbols of Russia, Servia, Austria, the Roman emporer and Germany. In China, the eagle represents strength and power.
ELEPHANT tattoos can mean great, long lasting memory or memories, can also mean a generous and gregarious nature It has an image of great strength. It denotes intelligence. A white elephant announced the birth of Gautama Buddha. The white elephant brings salvation from worldly entanglements. In Hinduism, Ganesha, God of wiring and wisdom in general, has an elephant’s head with with one tusk and rides a mouse. The elephant is the chief of attendants on the God Shiva. It is a symbol of victory of life over death.
FALCON tattoos can mean a spiritual relationship with higher forces A trained bird of prey. The falcon generally has the same symbolism as the Eagle and Hawk. Negatively, it can represent preying on others to benefit oneself. See other details in the dream for analysis
FIREFLY tattoos can mean moments of intense spiritual illumination
FISH tattoos can mean spiritual aspects or people in one’s life, and spiritual achievements. It was the early Christian sign or symbol which separated the hostile unbelievers from the believers.It also represented the Age of Pisces which began in the year 7 A.D. Fishing represents the spiritual purposes of life and man’s search for the higher consciousness. It also represents fertility and the life giving principles of the maternal. To catch a fish suggests growth of the divine self. To catch an ugly fish my imply spiritual weakness. To have an ugly fish appear denotes seeing spiritual weakness in a situation. To see a frozen fish denotes that one’s spiritual life is frozen and not used as it should be. To see beautiful multicolored fish represents the joy and peace in one’s spiritual life. The fish represents Christian principles. Showing a fish to someone denotes showing the Christian principles to others. Saving a fishes life represents the need to save those principles in oneself. In China, the fish represents happiness and plenty. It also stands for courage, strength, and endurance. Pisces is the last sign of the Zodiac.
FLEA tattoos can mean irritations in one’s life, usually in juvenile relationships
FLY tattoos can mean an irritation in a life situation. To swat the flies denotes needing to kill or stop the negative irritations. If one concentrates too hard on the negative irritations, one misses the important or beautiful aspects of life. Beezelbub is the Lord of the Flies is associated with swarming flies. Invincible swarms of flies were seen as embodiments of demonic powers. Swarms of flies of harbingers of disaster, Isaiah 7:18. Flies are predominantly symbols of satanic beings.
FOX tattoos can mean a cunning, trickery, malice, or shrewd person. It’s reddish coat symbolizes Fire and was seen as one of the devil’s followers. In ancient times, the fox was seen as very seductive and a symbol of eroticism. A white fox was the was ridden by the rice god Inari.
FROG tattoos can mean an impaired mental or physical condition. In Revelations 16:13, the frog is seen as uncleanliness as the spirits of evil. It could represent unintelligent and ugly speech. However, to a young boy, dreaming of frogs could show an interest in the study of nature to better understand life. Exodus 8:3 shows frogs as a plague upon one’s house. On the positive side, the frog represents fertility, genesis, and reproductive life. In the Fairy Tale, the kissed frog turns into a Prince, a great transformation. The frog croaking in the mud for sheer joy is croaking a hymn of praise to God for the simple gift of life and is a lesson for humanity.
GEESE tattoos can mean of a personal desire to escape problems
GERBIL tattoos can mean aspects of life that are small comforts
GERMAN SHEPHERD tattoos can mean a helpful friend or condition; except if dog is threatening
GIRAFFE tattoos can mean a situation where one is meddling into the affairs of others, can denote a distortion of the image of self, too much distance between heart and head, too much emotion and not enough reason.
GOAT tattoos can means lust and vitality. It is impure, and stinking creature. He has most of the devils physical traits. It also was ridden by witches through the air. The goat also represents «idol Baphomet» of the heretical Knights Templar. It is the ‘scapegoat’ driven into the wilderness as the bearer of all the sinful impurity of children of Israel. Greeks associate the goat with Pan. The female goat represents the nurturing nature. It stands alongside the sheep in the nativity depictions. In Medieval bestiaries, the goat climbs tall mountains.
GOLDEN CALF tattoos can mean negative goals and misplaced priorities
GOLDFISH tattoos can mean a spiritually confining situation, or belief
GOOSE tattoos can mean a need for more seriousness in life Usually stands for foolish behavior or being ‘silly’. It is a symbol for talkative ‘old people’. Gray geese area like devout Christians who keep their distance from the bustle of the world and wear grey sackcloth. White geese resemble town-dwellers giving themselves over to chatter and gossip.
GORILLA tattoos can mean a docile and peaceful nature though low mental state which might bright troublesome activities or conditions. Could stand for emotional dysfunction or gregariousness depending on the surround details of the dream.
HARE tattoos can mean a symbol of longevity, vigilance, easily frightened, cowardice, self-sacrifice, a trickster figure,passionate sexuality and lust, though the ‘white’ hare seen at the Virgin Mary’s feet is a symbol of the triumph over the flesh.
HAWK tattoos can mean acute perceptions, an ability for quick discernment — also see eagle.
HEDGEHOG tattoos can mean shrewd, miserly in ways of seeking wealth, loving of it’s young, always has two ways out of situations.
HEN tattoos can mean protective, patience, intellectually impoverished, highly susceptible to outside influences, panic over nothing. Also the hen sitting on eggs symbolizes supernatural forces guarding treasures.
HERON tattoos can mean it’s appearance is a good omen. contented, it’s high flying serves as a warning of impending bad weather. A symbol for the souls of the world, ash-grey is the color of penitence, white the color of innocence. It is a symbol of Christ on the mount of olives. It is also curious, also discretion.
HIPPOPOTAMUS tattoos can mean the positive symbol is that of protection in childbirth, in the negative a destroyer of crops, expected to return as a hostile, satanic beast in the last days of the earth.
HOG tattoos can mean a tendency to take more than one needs
HORNET tattoos can mean a situation where one might get ‘stung’. Swatting at one can represent can denote trying to stop the negative situation.
HORSE tattoos can mean a ‘wild’ nature, can be sexual connotations involved In ancient lore horses sometimes see visions, hear voices and speak. The horse is capable of quick starts but panics easily. The horse has tempestuous emotions. Dreams of horses striking out blindly are often interpreted as a longing for integration. In the book of Revelations there are a series of horses in Chapter 6. The white horse can represent qualities necessary to master, balance, and control the sex life. Fear of riding a white horse an ambivalence of feelings. Seeing four white horses represents the purification of the four lower centers. To see seven white horses swimming, means that when the spiritual quest is finished would come power and life. When balanced, this energy brings courage, persistence, drive, energy, and patience. On the negative side, the red horse usually represents dangerous, negative emotions for ‘red’ usually means «stop». The black horse in the book of Revelations relates to a necessary balance of the male and female qualities of the soul. Riding a black horse represents a need to control the energies of the body, usually sexual. The pale horse represents the thymus gland and represents the affections of love. Being halted by horses denotes a necessity to control and redirect the emotions. Falling off a horse shows rejection of some of the dream warnings. To follow a horses foottracks represents following Christ’s footsteps.
HUMMINGBIRD tattoos can mean messenger, timelessness
HUMMINGBIRD — the tiniest of all birds — brings special messages for us. It is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full speed. It can hover, or can go forward, backward, up or down. It lives on nectar and searches for the sweetness of life. Its long tongue lets it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden treasures underneath. Hummingbird is loved by the flowers and plants, for as it sucks the nectar from the flower, the plant reproduces and more of its kind are created. In many traditions, Hummingbird feathers have been prized for their almost magical qualities. It is said that Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can, and its presence brings joy to the observer.
HYENA tattoos can mean a lack of seriousness or vicious nature, avarice, one who waits for the leftovers instead of being aggressive in a situation. An unclean scavenger. Jeremiah 12:9 say that you should likewise not be like the hyena, loving now the male, now the female nature (a warning against homosexual tendencies). In the olden days, the appearance of the hyena in a dream portended the birth of a sexually malformed child. The head of the hyena is one of the seven headed beast in the Book of Revelations, one of the seven vices.
KANGAROO tattoos can mean overprotectiveness, or jumpiness, can also denote long endurance
KITTEN tattoos can mean an innocence of character, may indicate a feeling of helplessness with others in a situation
LADYBUG tattoos can mean an irritating situation in one’s life
LAMB tattoos can mean a reference to Jesus Christ or God, sacrificed by the Israelites to escape the tenth plague that God meted out to Egypt for refusing to let Moses and his people go. (Exodus 11-12) Christ, seeks lambs who have gone astray. John 1:29 quotes John the Baptist calling Christ…the lamb of God. Rev: 14:1 refers to the triumphant lamb. The Easter Lamb is the flag of victory over death.
LEECH tattoos can mean a freeloader, one who lacks self-respect and responsibility
LICE tattoos can mean lack of cleanliness of the person, or emotional or mental or spiritual negativity
LION tattoos can mean a strength of character, military valor, tremendous energy, effortlessly masterful, and dominion, may indicate the «Lion» of God,. It can represent the victory of human intellect over it’s animal nature. It can also be negative and denote a braggart, a roaring lion can denote anger and temper — However, the golden color can represent the good side of the individual. Being eaten by a lion represents being eaten alive by one’s own bad temper. see dream situation surrounding the animal. In Astrology..it symbolizes Leo, (July 23 — Aug 23), the fifth sign of the Zodiac, it’s planet is the Sun. People born under Leo are thus solar in nature. People born under Leo are said to be natural leaders, intelligent, magnanimous. A lion can be one extreme or the other, either a symbol of the devil whom Christ overcomes, or a model for a hero.
LIZARD tattoos can mean a lack of scruples. symbolizes death followed by resurrection. It also symbolizes safety and welfare because it can lose it’s tail and regenerate it.
LOCUST tattoos can mean seen as a feared plague, the embodiment of divine retribution. The locust is Christ’s comrade in the battle against the heathen. It symbolizes Christ resurrected. Swarms of them are taken as an indication that the order of the cosmos had been disturbed.
MAGGOT tattoos can mean a self-serving personality who gains from the efforts of others
MAGPIE tattoos can mean talkativeness, ‘chatterbox’. In China the magpie is considered ‘good luck.’ It’s cry is believed to announce ‘good news’. It is the embodiment of ‘yang’, the bird of happiness and good fortune, marital bliss.
MOCKINGBIRD tattoos can mean a lack of individualized expression associated with mockery, such a person committing adultery make a mockery of their marriage vows. Seeing a mockingbird may denote a rebuke in the form of this bird.
MOLE tattoos can mean indicates a lack of communication; fearing reality. I lives in the dark and is afraid of light. It represents avarice because it lives on it’s own body fat.
MONKEY tattoos can mean immaturity or lack of individuality. Asian sculptures of three monkeys show them with their hands over their mouth, eyes, and ears which is a sign of ‘evil’. In Japan, these same three monkeys are denoted by the word «saru», which means both ‘monkey’ and ‘not do’ thus symbolizing conscious abstinence from evil.
MOSQUITO tattoos can mean temporary irritations in one’s daily life
MOUSE tattoos can mean a negative aspect in one’s life. Mice can represent the little irritations in life. Seeing dead mice but not cleaning them up can denote refusal to let negative emotions go. They are said to have demonic and prophetic powers. Their squeaking and footsteps are taken as portents of storms. In dreams a mouse could embody the soul of the dreamer and as such leave the body and then return to it. The worst thing they do is spread pestilence. They are associated symbolically with satanic demons and with all powers hostile to humanity. In dreams, the mouse sometimes represents the female sex organ to young men. In the positive aspect, the mouse is seen as though of as analogous to the soul. See the Mouse story article for a positive aspect of the mouse
OCTOPUS tattoos can mean the spirits of the Underworld and mysterious otherworldly forces.
OSTRICH tattoos — It’s feather symbolizes the Egyptian Goddess Maat. The eggs symbolize the virginity of Mary. It is however, a symbol of religious hypocrisy, who give the appearance of holiness, but do not act holy.
OWL tattoos can mean wisdom, a symbol of knowledge, heightened observational skills, introspective, brooding, can see in the dark, developed awareness, high spiritual enlightenment It can also mean to use more judgment in a life situation. In the negative, it represents nocturnal «furtive’ habits, solitude, silent flight, a plaintive ‘harbinger of death’ cry, and symbolize a turning away from spiritual light. In China the owl is a harbinger of misfortune, but it is the sacred animal of the rain-god it symbolizes a demonic nightcreature and considered an evil omen.
OYSTER tattoos can mean inner fears or anything new, withdrawing from interaction with others
PANTHER tattoos can mean caution is necessary. A savage and cunning animal. has superior fighting courage of the female. In the positive, it has a beautiful voice, it symbolizes Christ. The Panther is said to keep the diabolical dragon away. A black panther is considered especially dangerous.
PARAKEET tattoos can mean a lack of analytical spiritual thinking, denoting the ‘love’ bird could mean a relationship that is caged in and needs to be freed.
PARROT tattoos can mean the inability to think for oneself, repeats only what others say. It is a symbol of babbling humans.
PEACOCK tattoos can mean arrogance of behavior Stands for self-love. It is a positive symbol of the Sun. In the Mid-east, the Kurds view the bird as a messenger of the God. For Muslims, it symbolizes the cosmos or the sun and the moon. He symbolizes renewal and resurrection. It represents spiritual rebirth. The negative symbols are that is struts about, prides himself on his appearance and gazes haughtily about. See Proverbs 16:18, «Pride goeth before destruction.»
PELICAN tattoos can mean the sacrificial death of Christ, selfless striving for purification. It is associated with the Rosicrucian degree of the Scottish system of Free-masonry.
PHOENIX tattoos can mean the utmost examples of spirituality, a personality who bounces back from adversity, refuses to be defeated In Mythology, the bird had a life of 500 years.Because it is consumed in fire only to rise from the ashes, it represents resurrection and immortality. It can mean the harbinger of spiritual rebirth. In the American Indian tradition, the Phoenix is starting to rise now for the destruction/recreation process of the earth.
PIG tattoos can mean one who takes more than one needs. Primarily a symbol of uncleanliness. But it represents fertility and prosperity in cultures of antiquity. In China, the pig is the 12th and last sign of the Zodiac, symbolizing manly strength. Pigs are considered unclean by the Egyptians, but not as strenuously as the Jews and Muslims. The pig is a symbol of ignorance and voracious appetitite, as well as an emblem used in mockery of Judaism. The pig is usually the ‘booby’ prize for coming in last in contests. Dreaming of a pig usually denotes good fortune coming one’s way.
PORCUPINE tattoos can mean a a tendency to unconsciously defend oneself in obtaining one’s personally goals. This person irritates others, instinctively defending against new ideas, relationships, or situations
PORPOISE tattoos can mean spiritual guidance, or humanitarian nature
PRAYING MANTIS tattoos can mean one who is a spiritual hypocrite
PYTHON tattoos can mean a suffocating personality or situation
RABBIT tattoos can mean physical or sexual obsessive preoccupation which leaves no room for spiritual development. A rabbit also denotes quiet endurance of one’s pain. A white rabbit can symbolize the awakening of spirit or a symbol for Easter and resurrection. A prolific rabbit can symbolize the power of the sexual feelings. See dream surroundings for analysis
RACCOON tattoos can mean an industrious personality
RACEHORSE tattoos can mean competitiveness, a desire to be better or faster than others, a desire to get ahead of others.
RAM — The male sheep is the first of the 12 signs of the Zodiac and stands for Aries (March 21 — April 20) A Fire sign. Those born under Aries are said to be aggressive, strong oriented toward progress, but to squander love and energy. It is a wild symbol of the creative forces of nature, but more linked with problems of the intellect. In the Bible, the ram was the substitute for ‘human’ sacrifice.
RAT tattoos can mean a negative personality, or diseased element in one’s life Think the word ‘dis-ease’ when seeing a rat. Feeling fear of rats in a dream can symbolize acknowledging negative aspects of oneself. It frequently represents Satan, the tempter and captor of souls. The rat is the mount of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of learning. In Japan, the rat is the companion of the god of good fortune. In China, a miser is called a ‘money rat’.
RAVEN tattoos can mean watchfulness and recognition of spiritual lies A reminder of God’s love and the ability of God to meet all of man’s emergencies. See Kings 17:4 where Elijah was fed by the ravens. To an Englishman, the raven can stand for self-survival or the British Empire and the continuity of the United Kingdom. However in Edgar Allen Poe’s novel, the raven stood for fatalism and despair. The raven represents those who are so caught up in worldly pleasures that they keep putting off their conversion. It is a harbinger of misfortune, disease, war, and death.
ROBIN tattoos can mean a rebirth of ideas or spirit Denotes the coming of Spring, a new beginning, a new opportunity, or a new birth of self. It also relates to patience such as when he waits for the worm to emerge from the ground for his food.
ROOSTER tattoos can mean an awakening of ideas or spirituality. Negatively, the rooster is cocky and suggests aggressiveness. See other dream details for analysis.
SAINT BERNARD tattoos can mean a helpful friend and guide
SALMON tattoos can meanone is going against the flow of spiritual life, or a spiritual search that is in error for one’s personal path
SCORPION tattoos can mean a person who will retaliate if crossed. In a negative situations, one can also sting oneself in the aftermath.In the Bible it denotes demonic powers. In Astrology, the scorpion is the eight sign of the zodiac, (October 23 — November 21). It’s sign is governed by the planet Mars. Scorpio is associated with male sexuality, destruction, the occult, the mystical, illumination, healing, and resurrection. It is an ambivalent sign, a source of change, a symbol of the triumph of life over death.
SEA HORSE tattoos can mean a spiritual search or belief that is a fantasy rather than reality
SEAL tattoos can mean the use of spiritual beliefs in one’s daily life
SEASHELL tattoos can mean spiritual gifts. To see whole and broken seashells, one is looking at the good and bad situations in one’s life.
SEA SLUG tattoos can mean spiritual laziness
SEA TURTLE tattoos can mean cautious spiritual search or path
SHEEP tattoos can mean lack of individuality. See Ram and Ewe. The ewe is seen as stupid and harmless. The ram is seen as strength, vitality, and unwavering determination. In the lamb, the symbolism is innocence
SKUNK tattoos can mean a person with a strong desiree for justice to prevail
SLOTH tattoos can mean a lazy individual, warns against procrastination
SLUG tattoos can mean a slow moving, perhaps not doing all one can in a situation, lazy
SNAIL tattoos can mean a slow, cautious attitude. It represents the resurrection of Christ and it’s harmonically formed spiral shell. They are considered self-sufficient because they carry around their own houses and has all it’s own belongings with it every moment.
SNAKE — a non-poisonous snake denotes cleverness, proceeding with discernment, see mythology for further definitions
SNAKE — a poisonous snake can relate to a person who will attack or retaliate with vengeance, can relate to temptation or evil, though as in India, it can also represent wisdom, it can represent sneakiness or treachery such as a ‘snake in the grass’, being bitten by a snake can represent dangerous emotions or situations where one holds or expresses poisonous thoughts or emotions. The serpent denotes the right or wrong thoughts, the wisdom of knowing the difference.
SPARROW tattoos can mean a gentle nature of an intellectual person
SPIDER tattoos can mean a conniving individual, or a personal protective measure. Can denote weaving a web or trap oneself is falling into. It may relate to a recent indiscretion, a warning against a temptation or habit. See the other aspects of the dream to see the situation one is dealing with. See also mythology for the positive characteristics
SQUIRREL tattoos can mean negative connotation — scurries back and forth telling stories, elusive.
STALLION HORSE tattoos can mean uncontrolled strength, usually sexual excess, a need to contain and direct one’s energies
SWALLOW tattoos can mean punctuality, a harbinger of spring, and resurrection. However, it has the speech of a barbarian. It is the attribute of the love goddess Aphrodite. It also represents the relationship between an older and younger brother.
SWAN tattoos can mean a personal spiritual nature of grace, inherent spiritual essence, purity, and resulting gifts. It supposedly foresees impending death and emits extraordinary cries at it’s own death. The death of the swan in the ballet «Swan Lake» symbolizes the loss of the woman’s gracious qualities to jealousy. Because it has black flesh it is also a symbol of hypocrisy.
TIGER tattoos can mean an aggressive nature, emotionally erratic, an overly severe nature. denotes one’s own shortcomings and a need to re-evaluate oneself. It is the third sign of the Zodiac in China. It has vitality and energy. In China it is equated with a quarrelsome woman. However, it has great maternal instincts.
TURTLE tattoos can mean the negative aspect is a fear of facing responsibility or reality. Can represent long life because turtles live a long time. Quiet strength,. In China it carries the world on it’s back. It is a symbol of fertility and unwavering vitality, and great patience.
VULTURE tattoos can mean greedy and aggressive individuals, usually with overeating. They are considered prophetic because they followed marching armies and appeared always three days before a great battle. It symbolizes the Virgin Mary because it does not sit on it’s own eggs.
WALRUS tattoos can mean spiritual righteousness
WOLF tattoos can mean a dark, negative impression denotes a clever and evasive person, infers self-interest. A white wolf indicates a spiritual guide. It is an omen of victory, but represents the forces of Satan. In China it stands for greed and cruelty. It represents the diabolical enemy that threatens the flock of the faithful. It pretends to be lame before it attacks. They pretend to be utterly innocent and harmless but their hearts are full of deceit. A human ‘wolf’ relentlessly pursues large numbers of women for sexual gratification. It symbolizes cunning, treachery and gratification. In a dream it symbolizes prowling the landscape of the psyche, representing untamed external energies. It can, however, be trained to co-exist with humans. It represents alert caution. See separate article for more details of the wolf’s traits.
WORM tattoos can mean an interference forcing one’s way into affairs of daily life. To see a worm in some kind of food is a warning against that type of food or the diet in general. Relate it to something you just ate the day before.
ZEBRA tattoos can mean the duality of good/evil, right/wrong polarity of life’s events.
Flower tattoos are increasingly common these days. In the West, flower tattoos were traditionally thought of as being for women. Odds are, if you think about flower tattoos there’s a good chance you are imaging them on women. Over time, as appreciation for the meaning of flower tattoos has grown, these tattoos are increasingly common on men as well. Of all of the native tattoo traditions, Japanese flower tattoos are among the oldest and most prominent. Like many things in Japanese culture, flower tattoos are imbued with meaning which is a major contributor to their resurgence in popularity.
Flower Tattoos: Defining Their Meaning
Before we dive into revealing the traditional meaning behind many of these tattoos, we should note that the meaning can vary from culture to culture. A flower tattoo’s meaning in Japanese tattoo art may be quite different from its meaning in Mexican tattoo art. We’re going to try to cover all of our bases, but we highly recommend doing your own research to make sure that you get the tattoo you want, the meaning you want, and are ok with any possible additional connotations a certain flower may have.
The Most Popular Flower Tattoos:
There are almost as many meanings and symbols represented by flowers as there are flowers in the world. For you non-horticulturists out there, that’s a whole hell of a lot. We couldn’t possibly list all of these meanings here. What we can do instead is give you the meanings behind a number of the most commonly used flowers in tattoo art. We hope this will give you some insight into creating your own tattoo ideas or designs and that you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which flowers you decide to have tattooed on you and their meaning.
These are among the most popular flower tattoos not just for what they symbolize, but for the cultures to which they are tied. The lotus represents knowledge, understanding, enlightenment, and life. The meaning of lotus tattoos goes a lot deeper. So much deeper, in fact, that we had to give it a dedicated page. If you want to learn more about the history and meaning of lotus tattoos, read up on our lotus tattoos page.
Cherry Blossom Tattoos:
The cherry blossom tattoo is common in Japanese style tattooing. Often depicted as falling petals being carried by the wind, the cherry blossom reflects a vary unique trait of Japanese culture. They call it «Mono no aware» – the pathos of things, or more literally, an empathy towards things. Another way to put it would be to say «a sensitivity toward ephemera». What does that mean? The cherry blossoms are quite beautiful and delicate, but are not in bloom long. The blossoms are blown from the trees with the slightest wind. This means that their beauty fades rapidly. The Japanese people see this as a metaphor for life which echoes their own mortality.
For a better understanding of the significance of the cherry blossom tattoo, read the story of Jirohei and the Samurai. In tattoo art, the cherry blossom represents the fleetingness of life and of beauty, as well as representing mortality, life, and beauty themselves. The blossoms are often depicted as being carried away by wind or water. It is also common to see the blossoms represented as whole, or just the petals. Of all the flower tattoos we’ll discuss, the cherry blossom is the smallest.
Chrysanthemum or Mum Tattoos:
This is another particularly popular flower tattoo that is most commonly associated with Japanese art. In Japan, the chrysanthemum is associated with royalty–namely the emperor, who sits on what the Japanese have titled the Chrysanthemum Throne. It represents perfection and, in some interpretations, deity.
The chrysanthemum is also symbolic of happiness or joy, as well as longevity. In China, the Chrysanthemum is associated with Taoism and represents simplicity and perfection.
Due to the fact that it blooms in autumn, there is also a symbolic representation of transitioning from life to death, or being between life and death. In Chinese culture, the chrysanthemum is given in congratulations, good will, or wishes for long life.
The rose tattoo is another popular flower tattoo. While it is less common in Eastern tattoo art, the rose tattoo is a staple of traditional American tattoo culture. The rose tattoo is generally regarded as meaning love, or beauty, due to these same qualities being associated with the flower itself. But the rose tattoo has much deeper meaning and a very long history in tattoo art.
The rose tattoo is also believed to mean balance, symbolize an undying love, hope, and new beginnings. Adding the stem with thorns can provide additional, contrasting meaning such as defense, loss, and thoughtlessness.
The peony flower tattoo is another common staple of the Japanese style of tattooing. In Japan, they are referred to as the «King of Flowers». This flower tattoo symbolizes elegance and wealth. Though often colored red in tattoo art, the peony tattoo can be a wide range of colors.
The orchid holds a broad range of meaning in numerous cultures. To the Japanese, the orchid was said to represent bravery to warriors. It’s associated with power and strength in ancient Aztec culture.In China, the meaning of the orchid flower is tied to prosperity, fertility, and refinement.
The best part of orchid flower tattoos is the sheer number of options. There are over 25,000 kinds of orchid flowers, which means that your odds of finding one that suits your purpose may be easier (or harder) than you might expect. Keep in mind that the meaning of an orchid flower tattoo can be tied to the type of orchid you choose and the part of the world in which that orchid naturally grows because the meaning is usually defined by the culture that lives closest to the flower.
Hibiscus Flower Tattoos:
The hibiscus flower is another popular flower tattoo. In Japanese culture the hibiscus flower has one of the simplest meanings of all flowers in Japan. It holds just a singular meaning: gentle. In Hawaiian culture the hibiscus flower symbolizes royalty, power, and respect. Often worn by the old kings and queens of the Hawaiian islands, the hibiscus became associated with the ruling class. The hibiscus flower tattoo can simultaneously hold all of these meanings, but interpretations can be influenced by the context of the tattoo. For example, a hibiscus appearing in a Japanese sleeve would be more likely to be considered to mean «gentle», rather than power or respect. A hibiscus tattoo that stands alone may have a less restrictive interpretation of its meaning.
The lily is a popular flower worldwide and appears in many cultures for many purposes. For this reason, it has some of the most varied meaning of any flower tattoo.
The meaning of lilies is traced back to ancient Greece and the Madonna lily, a white lily native to the area. They believed it sprang from the milk of Hera, Queen of the Gods. For that reason the lily in Greece was understood to represent the Divine Feminine. It also commonly means virtue, perfection, and purity. Compassion, understanding, and mourning are also associated with lily flowers.
A lily flower tattoo can be completely open to interpretation, or, if you choose, other design elements can help assign the flower to a culture to direct the meaning of the lily flower tattoo to something you specific wish to symbolize.
Poppy Flower Tattoos:
Poppies are another flower that grow in all different parts of the world. Despite this, and unlike other flowers with broad geographic origins, the poppy flower does not have a widely varied meaning. Its meaning is surprisingly limited.
In the Greek and Roman tradition, the poppy flower is associated with death in the form of eternal sleep. Sleep is a universal meaning for the poppy flower, but it can also mean peace. Both meanings make subtle reference to death. Another, more modern meaning assigned to the poppy is remembrance for those who have died in war. This meaning comes from the poem by John McCrae «In Flanders’ Fields», a WWII era poem about the war and those lost to it.
Dogwood Flower Tattoo:
The meaning of the dogwood flower varies from culture to culture. A commonly accepted meaning of dogwood flower tattoos is «love undiminished by adversity», meaning the wearer’s love can withstand anything. Dogwood flowers are often confused with cherry blossoms in tattoo art due to their striking resemblance to one another.
Another traditionally accepted meaning of the dogwood flower is pity or empathy. This stems from Christian folklore. The story goes that the dogwood once was a large tree like an oak tree and as such, it was the tree chosen to make the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The dogwood didn’t want this to happen and felt great pity for Jesus. As a reward, God made the dogwood grow small so that it couldn’t be used for such a cruel act ever again.
The dogwood can also symbolize rebirth, or rejuvenation, as it blooms in the spring.
Color in tattoos if used right, can add extra layers of depth to the tattoo design. Color tattoos can not only look amazing but also have deeper meaning to them and add to the overall theme of the tattoo.
Red: Think fire and blood — Red rushes to us with messages of passion, primal urges, action, pleasure, vibrance, radiance, and love.
Zodiac:Aries. Boosts energy, protection, enhances libido I am ignited
Orange: A nice subdued blend between the aggressive red and the high-pitch of yellow — Orange is about harmony, aspiration, sociability, contentment, and intelligence.
Zodiac:Gemini. Aids decision making, enhances cheer, confidence and assurance I am satisfied
Yellow: Worshipped in the form of the sun — Yellow is all about radiating creativity, protection, intellect, positivity and clarity.
Zodiac:Leo. Helps vision, enhances confidence and communication I am centered
Green: The fresh start of spring brings waves of Green and with it comes attributes of youth, sentimentality, nature, adventure, growth and health.
Celestial: Venus and Earth
Zodiac:Libra and Taurus. Promotes compassion and overall physical health I am accepted
Blue: Look to the sky for the meanings of Blue — open spaces, freedom, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity.
Zodiac:Sagittarius. Heals the sense organs, aids in balance and self-expression I am expansive
Indigo: Similar to the attributes of blue, but Indigo’s energy runs very deep — consider the unknown depths of the sea along with emotion, strength, fluidity, persuasiveness, expressiveness, and pervasiveness. Saturn and
Zodiac:Capricorn and Pisces. Provides clarity of purpose, aids spiritual healing I am deep
Violet: The hue of fragile flowers and sleepy sunsets, Violet reminds us of spirituality, communion, grandeur, high-ideals, devotion, and peace.
Celestial:Uranus and Moon
Zodiac:Aquarius and Cancer. Enhances nurturing, balances sensitivity I am revolutionary
Black: Black is required for all other colors to have depth and variation of hue — it’s a forceful feature and represents formality, dignity, force, convention, stability, and zero-tolerance.
Celestial:Saturn and Pluto
Zodiac:Capricorn and Scorpio. Promotes stability and protection, heals misunderstanding I am endless
White: Contemplate the brilliance of a new white snow and how it pulls a blanket of peace over everthing it touches — White stands for peace, cleansing, illumination, purity, innocence and the highest kind of understanding.
Celestial:Mercury and Moon
Zodiac:Virgo. Promotes cleansing, order and establishes clarity I am illumined
Japanese tattoos are one of the most popular styles in tattoo art, but were you aware that every image used in Japanese tattoos has a meaning and purpose? This is one of the reasons that the Japanese tattooing tradition has persisted for so long and has appealed to so many outside of Japanese culture. If you’re thinking about getting a Japanese tattoo, then we recommend reading this guide to get acquainted with the meaning of traditional Japanese tattoos and their meaning. There’s a lot to learn and if you’re going to put something on your body that lasts forever, you should at least understand its meaning.
Japanese Tattoos: History and Culture
Traditionally, Japanese tattoos began as a means of conveying societal status as well as serving as spiritual symbols that were often used as a sort of charm for protection as well as symbolizing devotion, not unlike modern religious tattoos. Over time, tattoos in Japanese culture developed as a form of punishment similar to what was seen in Rome where it was common practice to tattoo prisoners of war, criminals, and slaves as a means of making their status in society instantly recognizable. Eventually the practice faded and tattoos returned as a status symbol among the merchant class who were, interestingly enough, banned from flaunting their wealth.
Following World War II, tattoos were outlawed by the Emperor of Japan in an effort to improve Japan’s image in the west. Tattoos in Japan then took on a criminal element, but this didn’t stop foreigners from being so intrigued as to seek out the skills of Japanese tattoo artists–a practice that helped keep Japanese style tattoos alive. The modern association between Japanese traditional tattoos and the criminal element is said to have led to the adoption of tattoos by the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. This has also served to promote the «cool» aesthetic of Japanese traditional tattoos.
Today many people proudly wear Japanese style tattoos for their beautiful artistic merits, flowing composition, and the deep meaning associated with the many aspects of Japanese tattoo designs.
The Meaning of Traditional Japanese Tattoos
There are a number of images and symbols used in the Japanese style of tattooing to convey specific meanings. These images are used to convey a person’s beliefs, aspirations, or character traits. Called«motifs», these design elements are intended to have the same meaning wherever they are used so that meaning is not unique to the individual. That means that anyone that sees the tattoo can instantly recognize the meaning and what they wearer wants to have conveyed, be it personality traits, character attributes, or association with a criminal organization.
Japanese Dragon Tattoos:
Tattoo Meaning: wisdom, strength, force for good, wind/water
Dragons in the West traditionally symbolize strength, ferocity, and wealth. They are a destructive force, but are also considered guardians. The Japanese, and the East in general, see dragons differently. In Japanese traditional tattoo art, dragons are generous, benevolent forces that use their strength to do good for mankind. Wisdom is another trait attributed to dragons. These positive connotations have made dragon tattoos among the most popular of Japanese style tattoos.
Tattoo Meaning: determination, strength, courage, desire for success, water
Japanese tattoos of koi fish are another of the most popular tattoo designs in traditional Japanese tattoo art. Koi are a specially bred type of carp, a fish native to China, where the Koi actually originates. Koi are given masculine qualities in traditional Eastern folklore such as strength and bravery. The Koi in China were known to attempt to swim upstream in the Yellow River, but very few could swim past a point known as «Dragon’s Gate». Koi who did were said to be rewarded by turning into dragons. For this reason, Koi also symbolize determination and a strong desire to succeed and become «something more».
Tattoo Meaning: rebirth, triumph, fire
This tattoo, like many other Japanese tattoos, has a shared background with other cultures. Most of us are familiar with the story of the Phoenix, a bird that is consumed by fire and then rises from its own ashes. Many are not aware that the story exists in many cultures and at many times throughout history including Greek and Roman mythology, Middle Eastern folklore, and even the Americas. The Japanese phoenix story draws its source from the story that’s indigenous to mainland China. Regardless of origin, phoenix tattoos are meant to symbolize rebirth and triumph, as well a renewal and rebuilding of one’s self.
Tattoo Meaning: strength, courage, protector against bad luck, evil spirits, and disease, wind
The Japanese tiger tattoo carries with it the same traits we attribute to the real animal–strength and courage, but also long life. The tiger tattoo is also used to ward off evil spirits and bad luck, as well as disease. The tiger is a symbol for both the North and for autumn, they are said to control the wind, and they are one of the four sacred animals.
Lion or Fu-Dog tattoos:
Tattoo Meaning: protective, strong, courageous, good luck, heroism
This tattoo resembles both a lion and a dog. More specifically, it looks like a lion with pointed ears. They are said to be protective, strong, and courageous. As statues they serve to keep evil out, as tattoos they serve as protectors and often indicate a courageous person with heroic aspirations.
Japanese Snake Tattoo:
Tattoo Meaning: protection, wisdom, good luck, strength, and change
In traditional Japanese tattoos, the snake holds a wide range of meanings and performs a number of important functions. Among its many attributes are protection from illness, disaster, and bad fortune. Snake tattoos also represent wisdom and protection, particularly from the results of bad decisions. The snake can also embody regeneration, healing, and medicine as it was revered in Japanese culture in association with medicinal rites and remedies. As a symbol of good luck, it was also though to bring good health.
The Japanese snake tattoo also represents the Divine Feminine, or the holy female attributes. It was thought that much in the same way a snake sheds its skin, a woman could take on the positive attributes of a man. Seems a little sexist, but it was ancient Japan, after all.
Japanese Skull Tattoos:
Tattoo Meaning: life, death, change, reverence for dead/ ancestors
Though the image of the human skull in much of tattoo culture and art in general has come to have a negative connotation (such as death, danger, and an ill fate), the skull used in Japanese tattoos was intended to be a positive representation of the natural life cycle.
Traditionally, the Japanese skull tattoo represents change, which makes sense as death is the greatest change man can experience.
Japanese Flower Tattoos:
Japanese flower tattoos have a wide variety of meaning and are a very important and highly valued design in traditional Japanese tattoo art.
Oni/ Oni Mask/ Demon Mask Tattoo:
Tattoo Meaning: good and evil, protectors, tricksters, demons
The Oni Mask tattoo in Japanese tattoos is extremely common and refers to the belief in a spirit world in which demons carry out their roles of punishing the unjust and evil, as well as spreading disease (seems like a random thing to be responsible for, but I guess it fits in with the whole evil-doing business).
While Oni are known for being evil, some Oni are good and are seen as protectors. One instance of this would include a monk who becomes an Oni after death to protect his temple. In English, the word Oni is best translated as ogre or troll (theJapanese word for «demon» is actually «yokai»). Oni, in traditional Japanese folklore, we marauding ogres known for terrorizing villages and tormenting villagers. Their association with demons in Japanese tattoo art has more to do with ogres being grouped into the realm of supernatural creatures(along with yokai) than anything else. Still, the symbolism holds as the imagery of the marauding ogre isn’t far from the idea of the evil spirit which the tattoo aims to convey.
Water/ Wave Tattoos:
Tattoo Meaning: movement, strength, fluidity, life
Many Japanese tattoos feature water. Specifically, waves are an element of Japanese tattoo art that are perhaps among the most recognizable (Think traditional Japanese artists, like Hokusai). The image of water in Japanese traditional tattoos is often combined with Koi, Dragons, or Oni. In addition to symbolizing strength and life, water tattoos convey the belief that life, like water, ebbs and flows. It is strong and swift when necessary, but can be gentle and calm as well.
Basic shapes can have great value when designing a tattoo. Your tattoo will have more meaning when the use of shapes is used right. Find below the different shape tattoo meanings and symbols.
Circle Symbol Tattoo Meaning
Depending upon era, culture, region and your perspective circles may represent:
Cross Symbol Tattoo Meaning Cross Symbolism
Cross symbolism offers us a powerful union of major faith-based concepts. Here are a few keywords for this symbol’s meaning:
Spiral Symbol Tattoo Meaning Spiral Symbolism
Spirals can offer tremendous fun and insight. They can also expand our awareness on a grand plane. Here are a few spiral keywords that might whirl into your awareness.
Square Symbol Tattoo Meaning Square Symbolism
Some conceptual insights into the stabilizing energy of the square include:
Triangle Symbol Meaning Triangle Symbolism
Triangle symbolism speaks to us of magic, and creativity. Here are some other attributes for this symbol
As soon as someone says «tribal tattoos» odds are most of you already have an image of that person in your mind. It’s also very likely that you don’t think highly of the mental image you’ve conjured at the mention of a tribal tattoo. There’s a reason for that and we’ll get into that shortly, but first we’d like to encourage you to take a moment and learn about the one of the oldest most misunderstood art forms in the tattoo world.
Tribal Tattoos and Their History
Tribal tattoos get their bad reputation due to their resurgence in popular culture thanks to the «back to nature» mindset that began in the late 80’s and became a trademark of Generation X. Gen X-ers, particularly in the late 80’s and early 90’s, delved deep into indigenous cultures around the world. They co-opted a number of cultural assets ranging from clothing styles to food and, eventually, body modification which included tattoos and «gauged» earrings or «plugs». The most important aspect of this cross-cultural adoption was the introduction of tribal tattooing to the modern American counter-culture that ultimately eliminated the historical and cultural ties between traditional tribal tattoos and the people choosing to have these designs tattooed on them.
The Origin and Tradition of Tattooing in Island Cultures
The style of tattooing commonly referred to as «tribal tattoos» has an incredibly long tradition reaching back over thousands of years. Many of the tattoo styles we are familiar with today were rooted in tribal tattooing in one form or another. Tribal tattooing began as a style of tattooing that is (or was, at least) unique to a particular culture or sub-culture, typically as a means of differentiating themselves from other local tribes or cultural groups.
The purpose of the tattoo in tribal culture
Of all the remaining primitive tribal tattoos left in the modern world, the styles we associate with the term are really a bastardized blend of traditional Maori, Polynesian, and Samoan tattoo styles. In their respective cultures, these tattoos were used to identify wearers as members of a specific tribe, displayed their social status, and in some cases were employed in medicinal and religious rituals. The figures and shapes used in these tribal tattoo styles were often representative of animals or other elements of nature and tribal life. Depending on the design elements used, these tattoos told a story. The tattoos of warriors often included animal and other nature-inspired designs that illustrated the warrior’s strength and prowess in battle. Images that represent the sea were also common as all of the cultures associated with tribal tattooing have traditionally lived near the ocean.
Tattoos before there were tattoo «guns»
The tattoos of indigenous cultures were typically created using only black ink and were implemented using a hollow needle made from local objects including bamboo, bone, porcupine quill, and other natural materials. Some cultures expanded their palates according to the availability of local pigments, often including red or yellow pigments, though most tribal decoration was done in black.
Traditional tribal tattoos: distinct styles
Most of us are familiar with the modern tribal tattoo, but you might be surprised to see how little the modern tattoo style resembles the traditional artwork. While modern tribal tattoos adhere to a barbed, flowing, and often«tangled» looking design, traditional artwork in the tribal style was incredibly varied. The variety of styles from one tribe to another and from culture to culture were necessary to serve their original intended purpose: to help give the wearer a distinct physical appearance that could quickly and easily associate them to a specific tribe.
Tribal styles often included short line elements, circles, patterns utilizing lines and/or chevrons, and in some cases large sections of solid black bands akin to the modern tattoo style called «blackwork». All of these elements could be employed or just a single element depending on the tribe. Placement on the body was also of importance and could symbolize the wearer’s status within the tribe. It was very common to see patterns that formed a sort of «woven» look using a combination of patterns that set wearers apart not unlike the tartan plaids of Scottish clans.
Modern tribal tattoo designs
By and large, the tribal tattoo in modern culture is purely aesthetic. In addition to losing their original symbolism, modern tribal tattoos often incorporate modern images, designs, and subject matter, but employ the flowing shapes common to the traditional tribal tattoo style. There are a growing number of people who choose to wear these tattoos to celebrate their own cultural heritage, as well. The wearing of these tattoos by people who are not culturally or historically tied to them has tainted the art in the eyes of the general public, though those within tribal communities still respect them for their original purposes. In tattoo cultural at large, the modern tribal tattoo is mostly considered trite, a tired trope for the artistically ignorant or unimaginative. It’s not necessarily true for all tribal tattoo wearers, but its a common enough occurrence to warrant its widespread belief.
Tattoo is not only an art, not only a great way of self-expression, it is sometimes the only one possibility to hide a variety of skin imperfections from prying eyes: scars, stretches and burns. Unfortunately, large scars are very visible and their complete removal is often not possible, as well as many scars from burns, and a tattoo on them looks organically and does not harm the skin.
Of course, the tattoo on the scars — it is a way to solve the problem for strong and confident individuals. Everyone can be stylish and attractive, even one who has quite not beautiful scars. The main thing is not to do self-abasement, but solve this problem.
If you want to mask defect by beautiful picture, you will need to wait for the complete healing of the scar. Completely healed scar becomes white and non-convex. Practice shows that you can get a tattoo on the scar only after at least one year since its formation. If the scar is too wide or deep, you may need to pre-grinding.
Before making a final decision on getting a tattoo on the scar, discuss everything with tattoo master and with your doctor. Don’t be upset if your doctor will not allow you to get a tattoo on the scar — in such cases tattoo master usually draws an individual sketch and tattoo is located around the scar; in this case, a scar or burn is a part of the tattoo and almost not visible.
Don’t worry about the pain — it is exactly the same as during getting a tattoo on a perfectly healthy part of the skin.
The tattoo on scars will be organic and will look like a work of art if you will be patient and go through several sessions. First, tattoo master will make black contours of future tattoo, and when the skin will be completely restored he will add a desired colors. Professional tattoo master will make a tattoo that scar or burn will become a part of the composition and gracefully complete the whole picture.
The etymological origin of the word ‘tattoo’ is believed to have two major derivations; the first is from the Polynesian word ta which means striking something and the second is the Tahitian word tatau which means ‘to mark something’. The use of tattoos is recorded to have begun thousands of years ago and its history is as varied, colorful and diverse as the people who carry them. From a simple scientific standpoint – tattoos are created the insertion of colored materials beneath the skins’ surface or epidermis. The first tattoos were most likely created unintentionally. Someone with a small wound or gash happened to rub it with a dirty hand that was covered with soot or ash. Once the wound had healed, they realized that the skin had healed over the ash and that the mark became a permanent addition.
Our knowledge of tattooing in Europe really begins with the Ancient Greek and Roman historians. The only sources of information before this are archeological finds which are scare and, above all, open to interpretations. It is possible that tattooing cultures already existed in Europe before the last Great Ice Ace, 12,000 years ago. Bowls with traces of black and red pigments along with sharpened flint instruments were discovered in the Grotte des Fees (Fairy Grotto) in Chatelperron – France, 1867, and in caves in Portugal and Scandinavia. The shape and size of the tools suggest that they have been used for tattooing.
Images of people decorated with what appear to be four tattooed horizontal lines on both sides of their noses have been found on prehistoric stone pillars in Aveyron and Tarn, France. Clay Cucuteni figures dating from 5,000 BC showing traces of tattoos have been found in the Romanian Danube region. Drawings and figurines discovered in a Thracian burial mound near Philippopolis may depict tattooed people, but considering the complexity of the decorations it is more likely that these represent body painting or finely worked figurines.
The main reason for the disappearance of ancient traditions in many places was the ending of their almost total isolation. After centuries of living as more or less equivalent cultures indigenous populations were overwhelmed by the dominant European seafaring nations. The technological and militarily superior Europeans introduced their own value systems based on Christian beliefs. Like the Greeks and the Chinese before them the Europeans disdained the practices of the inhabitants of the newly discovered regions. It could not have escaped the notice of the natives that many of the mainly male adventurers found the permanent body decorations of the ‘otherwise so attractive’ women disdainful. Similarly, many Greenland Inuit women rejected the traditional facial tattoos, fearing that mainland men would find them unattractive.
In 1991, ‘Otzi the Ice Man’ made the headlines of newspapers all over the world when his frozen body was discovered on a mountain between Austria and Italy. This is the best preserved corpse of that period ever found. The skin bears 57 tattoos: a cross on the inside of the left knee, six straight lines 15 centimeters long above the kidneys and numerous parallel lines on the ankles. For centuries the Berbers in mountainous regions of North Africa used this kind of therapeutic tattoo to treat rheumatic pains. Anthropologists believe a traditional healer made incisions in Otzi’s skin on the afflicted areas, placing medicinal herbs in the wound which were burnede with the point of a heated metal instrument. The charred residue was incorporated in the resulting scar. An examination of Otzi’s tattooed skin tissue revealed that the scares to contain carbon particles. Probably a shepherd or hunter, he was middle aged at the time of his death. The copper ace found with him suggests he was a man of some distinction. Otzi, named after the Oztal where he was found, lived 5,300 years ago. He was probably murdered as an arrowhead was found in his back and his body shows traces of cuts and deep bruising. Encased in ice for thousands of years, Otzi and the objext found with him are remarkably well preserved.
In 1948 – just over 200 kilometers North of the borders between Russia and China – Russian archeologist Sergei Rudenko began excavating a group of tombs, or Kurgans, in the high Altai mountains. At this site mummies, that date from around 2,400 years ago, were excavated. On their bodies were a wide array of tattoos said to represent various indigenous and mythological animals. Amongst them were griffins and monsters that were thought to have a magical significance yet some of these kinds of elements are believed to be purely aesthetic, decorative or ornamental. The tattoos of these mummies, when viewed together or as a whole piece, were believed to reflect the status of the individual bearing them.
Various written manuscripts, actual physical remains and works of tattoo art pertaining to the Egyptian period had mostly been ignored by earlier Egyptologyists. Today however, we know that there were numerous bodies recovered dating back to as early Xi era that exhibited tattoos. In 1891, archaeologists discovered the mummified remains of Amunet, a priestess of the goddess Hathor, at Thebes who lived some time between 2160 BCE and 1994 BCE. This female mummy displayed several lines and dots tattooed about her body. The arrangement of these dots or dashes were aligned into abstract geometric patterns. This particular art form is believed to have been restricted to females and usually these women were associated with some kind of ritualistic practice. The Egyptians then carried the practice of tattooing throughout the then known world. The pyramid-building Third and Fourth dynasties of Egypt developed international nations with Crete, Greece, Persia, and Arabia. And by 2,000 BCE the art of tattooing had been extended all the way to Southeast Asia. The Ainu (Western Asian nomads) brought the practice of tattooing with them as they moved over to Japan. It is a sad fact that many tattoos’ original meaning are lost, not least due to the new generation’s lack of interest in their own traditions, a result of the advance of Western influences.
The earliest evidence of tattooing in Japan is found in clay figurines with painted or engraved faces representing tattoos. The oldest of these clay figurines have been recovered from tombs dated to 3,000 BCE or indeed before this time. Numerous other such figurines have been found in various tombs dating from the 2nd and 3rd millennia BCE. These figurines served as ‘stand-ins’ or substitutes for living individuals who symbolically accompanied the dead on their journey into the afterlife. It is commonly held that these tattooed marking held strong spiritual significance. The very first written record of the Japanese practicing the art of tattooing is found within a Chinese dynastic history compiled around 297 CE. The Japanese were interested in he art mostly for aesthetic or decorative uses – in contrast to their earlier spiritual significance. The Horis – the Japanese tattoo masters – were the undisputed experts of tattooing in their time. Their use of colors, perspective and imaginative designs moved the practice in a completely different direction. The classic Japanese tattoo is a full body suit.
From Southern China the practice spread along the silk-route. There have been a few periods in the history of the Far East when tattoos were accepted. Tattooing was mostly associated with the lower classes or the underworld. Though practiced in China for thousands of years, civilized and sophisticated Chinese showed nothing but disdain for it throughout this period. The practice become completely discredited after the Communist takeover in 1949. It was also held in contempt in Japan then greatly influenced by China in this regard.
This changed in the 18’th century when artists became interested in the art of tattooing. For a period tattoos were very fashionable particularly among workers. The Japanese tattoo style even became the international trendsetter. Prominent Westerners were attracted to the Japanese style and even traveled to Japan to receive the artwork. The introduction of the Japanese style to the west contributed greatly to the short-lived vogue of tattooing among the Western elite at the end of the 19’th century.
There are many parallels in the histories of tattooing in China and Japan. Firstly, both countries included peoples with rich tattoo traditions living beyond the direct influence of the center of power. In the 3’rd century CE, Chinese sources mentioned the Wa people who tattooed their bodies to ward off evil dragons.
Until recently, the women of the Ainu people who still live on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan, had remarkable mouth tattoos. Tribes with their own tattoo culture have also long been a feature on the margins of the Chinese empire. Secondly, the practice of punitive tattooing, the public humiliation of offenders, occurred both in China and Japan. This punishment was essentially a life sentence as people marked in this way were condemned to a life on the margins of society. Thus a vigourous tattoo culture gradually developed within society’s underbelly. The third common factor was the boost that the art of tattooing received in both countries generated by the immense popularity of the novel Suikoden, in which the most important characters are tattooed.
In ancient China people lived according to strict Confucian moral codes. 500 years before the birth of Christ, Confucius preached that civilized people should honor and respect their parents and ancestors. Any mutilation of the body, a parental gift, conflicted with these basic tenets and brought shame upon the family and the community. Cultivated Chinese viewed tattooing, like eating raw meat and shaving body hair, as barbarous. These activities characterized wild, uncivilized tribes living beyond or on the borders of the Chinese empire. The first report of a tattooing culture appears in Chinese writings dating from around 200 BCE. It describes the Yue people who decorated themselves with mythical figures to protect themselves from dragons and sea monsters when fishing.
In pacific cultures tattooing has a huge historic significance. Polynesian tattooing is considered the most intricate and skillful tattooing of the ancient world. Polynesian peoples, believe that a person’s mana, their spiritual power or life force, is displayed through their tattoo. The vast majority of what we know today about these ancient arts has been passed down through legends, songs, and ritual ceremonies. Elaborate geometrical designs which were often added to, renewed, and embellished throughout the life of the individual until they covered the entire body. In Samoa, the tradition of applying tattoo, or ‘tatau’, by hand, has long been defined by rank and title, with chiefs and their assistants, descending from notable families in the proper birth order. The tattooing ceremonies for young chiefs, typically conducted at the onset of puberty, were elaborate affairs and were a key part of their ascendance to a leadership role. The permanent marks left by the tattoo artists would forever celebrate their endurance and dedication to cultural traditions. The first Europeans who set foot on Samoan soil were members of a 1787 French expedition. They got a closer look at the natives and reported that ‘the men have their thighs painted or tattooed in such a way that one would think them clothed, although they are almost naked’. the mythological origins of Samoan tattooing and the extraordinary cross-cultural history of tatau has been transported to the migrant communities of New Zealand, and later disseminated into various international subcultures from Auckland to the Netherlands. The Hawaiian people had their traditional tattoo art, known as ‘kakau’. it served them not only for ornamentation and distinction, but to guard their health and spiritual well-being. Intricate patterns, mimicking woven reeds or other natural forms, graced mens arms, legs, torso and faces. Women were generally tattooed on the hand, fingers, wrists and sometimes on their tongue. The arrival of western missionaries forced this unique art form into decline as tattooing has been discouraged or forbidden by most Christian churches throughout history.
The Maori of New Zealand had created one of the most impressive tattoo cultures of all those in Polynesia. Their distinctive style of tattooing, known as moko, reflected a refined artistry. The Maori tattoos used their woodcarving skills to transfer this craft into the carving of skin. The full-face moko was amongst the highest marks of distinction and communicated their status, lines of descent and tribal affiliations. The tattoos also recalled the wearer’s exploits in war and other major life events.
Borneo is a rare example of where traditional tribal tattooing is still practiced in just the same way as it has been for thousands of years. Indeed up until modern times, many of the inland tribes had little to no contact with the outside world. As a result, many aspects of their traditional way of life, including tattooing, have been exquisitely preserved. Borneo designs have seen an enormous surge in popularity – today they are most commonly referred to as ‘tribal’ and assimilated into a staggering array of tattoo designs.
India / Thailand
Hanuman in India was a popular symbol of strength on arms and legs. The mythical monk is still today one of the most popular creations in Thailand and Myanmar. They are put on the human body by monks who incorporate magical powers to the design while tattooing. Women are excluded because monks are not allowed to be touched by them and because Thais believe women do not need the extra boost as they are already strong enough on their own.
In Africa, where people have dark skin, it is difficult to make coloured tattoos as we know them. But they want to be tattooed anyway, so they have developed another technique – they make scarifications(this is not really tattooing, but it is related to tattooing) made by lifting the skin a little, and making a cut with a knife or some other sharp thing special sands or ashes were rubbed in to make raised scars in patterns on the body, it can be felt like braille lettering… These patterns often follow local traditions.
Ancient Greece & Rome
The Roman tattoo culture derived from that of the Greeks, a pattern common to many aspects of Roman culture. Despite the widespread decorative tattooing among neighboring peoples, the Greeks did not adopt the practice. They viewed their neighbors as barbarians whose customs were to be eschewed. However the Persians introduced the Greeks to an alternative use for tattoos. In 512 BCE King Darius led the Persians into Thrace. Herodotus informs us that the Persians marked their slaves, convicts and prisoners of war by tattooing letters onto their foreheads. We can assume that the Greeks adopted this practice from them since they also tattooed their slaves’ faces, making it impossible for a runaway to go unnoticed. In his dialogue on Greek law, Plato refers to the marking of desecrators caught plundering treasure from the temples. In their writings, the Greeks use the word stigma for tattoos.
Roman writers such as Virgil, Seneca, and Galenus reported that many slaves and criminals were tattooed. Tattooing specific groups with clearly visible signs made monitoring their movements easier. A legal inscription from Ephesus indicates that during the early Roman empire all slaves exported to Asia were tattooed with the words ‘tax paid’. Greeks and Romans also used tattooing as a punishment. Early in the fourth century, when Constantine became roman emperor and rescinded the prohibition on Christianity, he also banned tattooing on face, which was common for convicts, soldiers, and gladiators. Constantine believed that the human face was a representation of the image of god and should not be disfigured or defiled.
Were a tribal people who moved across Western Europe in times around 1200 and 700 B.C. They reached the British Isles around 400 B.C. and most of what has survived from their culture is in the areas now known as Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Celtic culture had a long history of body art. Permanent body painting was done with woad, which left a blue design on the skin. spirals are very common, and they can be single, doubled or tripled. Knotwork is probably the most recognized form of Celtic art, with lines forming complex braids which then weave across themselves. These symbolize the connection of all life. Step or key patterns, like those found in early labyrinth designs, are seen both in simple borders and full complex mazes. Much in the way that labyrinths are walked, these designs are symbolic of the various paths that life’s journey can take.
When Julias Caesar invaded southern Britannia in 55 BCE he wrote that the Britons colored their bodies blue in order to appear more fearsome on the battlefield. Based on this story, the 19’th century Irish historian William Betham has concluded that the name Britannia was actually derived from an ancient Celtic word meaning ‘land of the painted people’.
After Caeser landed on British soil the Romans conducted many campaigns against the northern tribes that raided their empire in the ensuing centuries.
With ancient roots, tattooing in Europe has a fascinating history. It is a tale of uneven development. The continent was repeatedly affected by influences that washed like waves over the land and then retreated, sometimes leaving pools behind. From a social perspective the meaning of tattoos has varied. At times a decorative tattoo was a status symbol of the upper classes while at others, it was a stigma associated with convicts and deserters.
Christianity deplored the decorative tattoo as bodily mutilation and prohibited it. Yet the Middle Ages saw the emergence of the pilgrim tattoo that proudly proclaimed the completion of a pilgrimage. These polarized reactions are doubtlessly related to the severity of the act of tattooing itself. Europe has always been influenced by cultures beyond its borders.
Central & South America
In Peru, tattooed Inca mummies dating to the 11th century have been found. 16th century Spanish accounts of Mayan tattooing in Mexico and Central America reveal tattoos to be a sign of courage. When Cortez and his conquistadors arrived on the coast of Mexico in 1519 they were horrified to discover that the natives not only worshipped devils in the form of statues and idols, but had somehow managed to imprint indelible images of these idols on their skin. The Spaniards, who had never heard of tattooing, recognized it at once as the work of satan. The sixteenth century Spanish historians who chronicled the adventures of Cortez and his conquistadors reported that tattooing was widely practiced by the natives of Central America.
Early Jesuit accounts testify to the widespread practice of tattooing among Native Americans. Among the Chickasaw, outstanding warriors were recognised by their tattoos. among the Ontario Iroquoians, elaborate tattoos reflected high status. In North-West America, Inuit women’s chins were tattooed to indicate marital status and group identity. The first permanent tattoo shop in new york city was settled up in 1846 and began a tradition by tattooing military servicemen from both sides of the civil war. Samuel O’reilly invented the electric tattooing machine in 1891.
During the time of the old testament, much of the Pagan world was practicing the art of tattooing as a means of deity worship. A passage in Leviticus reads: ‘ye shall not make any cuttings on your flesh for the dead nor print any marks upon you’. (19:28) This has been cited as biblical authority to support the church’s position. Biblical scholar M.W. Thomson suggests, however, that Moses favored tattoos. Moses introduced tattoos as a way to commemorate the deliverance of the jews from slavery in Egypt.
It is very likely that the vikings were tattooed. At around year 1100 the Arab Ibn Fadlan described a meeting with some vikings. He thought them very rude, dirty – and covered with pictures.
Explorers returned home with tattooed Polynesians to exhibit at fairs, in lecture halls and in dime museums, to demonstrate the height of European civilization compared to the ‘primitive natives’. After Captain Cook returned from his voyage to Polynesia tattooing became a tradition in the British navy. By the middle of the 18th century most British ports had at least one professional tattoo artist in residence. In 1862, the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, received his first tattoo – a Jerusalem cross – on his arm. He started a tattoo fad among the aristocracy when he was tattooed before ascending to the throne. In 1882, his sons, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York were tattooed by the Japanese Master tattooist, Hori Chiyo.
In the 18’th century, many French sailors returning from travels to the South Pacific often arrived back in port tattooed. By 1861 a French naval surgeon, Maurice Berchon, published a study on the medical / health complications said to arise from the receipt of a tattoo. After this paper, the navy and army temporarily banned tattooing.
Stereotypical and Sensationalized Association of Tattoo Design:
Sailors often returned to port with tattoos they received during their voyage. These usually consisted of a extremely basic or primitive styles that used minimum amounts of detail thus making the tattoos look 2 dimensional or ‘flat’. These flat tattoos, today known as ‘flash tattoos’ often give a cartoon feel. The typical motifs would consist of flowers, hearts, mermaids, ships, anchors, snakes, birds, and names or script
For hundreds of years the practice of tattooing was believed to be reserved for sailors, cultural outcasts, the marginalized and criminals. Prison tattoos can be quite professionally done with homemade or improvised materials. These convey an inmates autonomy and, in many cases, identity. A commonly known symbol for gang members are their tattoos. Receiving permanent markings on the body is a sign of absolute loyalty. These gang tattoos often speak volumes about the wearer, what gang they are in, what their ideologies or beliefs might be, what they have done, where they have been incarcerated or lived as well as details up to and including how many individuals the member is said to have killed. Known Western gang tattoo symbols include teardrops under the eye as well as spider webs on the elbows – these are said to symbolize that the wearer has killed. Japanese yakuza tattoos often have a body suit with varied iconography being used. Whereas the Chinese triads use a specific set of archetypal images in varying arrangements.
The prevalence of tattooing during the late 19’th and early 20’th century owed much to the once popular circus. When these traveling carnivals were prevalent tattooing, in turn, prospered. For nearly 100 years all major circus acts hired numerous individuals who were completely covered in tattoos. Some of these tattooed men and women were exhibited in ‘sideshows’ whilst others performed in traditional circus acts like juggling and sword-swallowing.
As with other artistic mediums and cultural developments, vocabulary continually evolves. The term ‘tattoo flash’ is commonly used to juxtapose it’s position against tattoo art. This comparison is reflective if the depth and potential of body art as well as the contemporary imagination. In recent years tattooing has emerged to the forefront of popular consciousness. Today tattoo ‘flash’, is a folder of tattoo designs completed by tattoo artists. For those who receive a tattoo based on flash it is much like the selection of a sticker from an album. The individual simply chooses a pre-made design from a book of stencils and has a tattooist trace it onto their body. Tattoo art today is defined as the commissioning of a tattoo artist for the creation of a unique, single use piece.
What is Permanent Makeup?
Permanent makeup, also known as Intradermal Pigmentation, is a revolutionary method of applying natural pigments into the dermal layer of skin. This state-of-the-art technique is medically proven and specifically designed to be completely safe.
Permanent makeup is used for a variety of cosmetic enhancements such as permanent eyebrows, eye liner, and lip liner/color. Other permanent makeup procedures include vitiligo, scar camouflage, areola restoration, hairline enhancement, and more. Permanent makeup has also been used to cover-up stretchmarks, birthmarks, freckles/age spots, and uneven skin discolorations.
Let’s explain a few popular procedures.
The Intradermal Pigmentation procedure for lip color is beautiful. It can appear to change the size and shape of the lips as well as the color. This procedure helps prevent lipstick from bleeding into the surrounding skin. Many people request a soft pink, similar to the lip color to that of an infant, for those who want a natural look. Others may desire a dramatic effect.
The Intradermal Pigmentation procedure for eyebrows can mimic the appearance of hair in the brow line. Anyone who desires more fullness of the brows will love the procedure (and the time saved not applying makeup!) Those who used to apply pencil can go swimming, play tennis, or wipe their forehead without the embarrassment of losing their eyebrows. Those suffering from alopecia (hair loss) are pleasantly surprised at how natural it looks.
A subtle, natural look, mimicking thousands of tiny eyelashes with the implantation of pigments in the lash line is popular with both male and female clients. Additional shadowing of color can be added for a soft natural liner or a more bold, definite line can be achieved. Ophthalmologists recommend Intradermal Cosmetic procedures for those who are allergic to conventional makeup and for those wearing contact lenses.
Who Benefits from Permanent Makeup?
– Whats the difference between the Tradional Tattooing process and Permanent Makeup?
Where both procedures involve tattooing the skin, in traditional tattooing, pigment is added to the third layer of the skin, where in permanent makeup pigment is added to the second layer of the skin, called the Dermis, creating a final result of a soft blend of color to the tattooed area.
– Is this procedure painful?
Topical anesthetics are used to minimize discomfort.
– Do I have a choice of colors?
Definitely! There’s a wide spectrum of colors you may choose from.
– Do I have a choice in the placement of pigments?
Of course. During your consultation, design and pigment placement will be determined.
– What is involved in recovery?
There will be slight swelling and redness in the skin, which will subside quickly. You may resume normal activities immediately after the procedure. Complete healing takes one to six weeks while the pigmentation matures and reaches its final color.