1. Strength Tattoos - The searches for tattoo designs & symbols signifying "strength" have long been popular. This month, once again, "strength" is in the number one spot. A tattoo that would serve its wearer as a powerful amulet and talisman, a touchstone for personal virtue.
The popularity of searching for "tattoos designs meaning..." has never been greater. Many of the searches in the Top Ten Tattoo Designs & Symbols are all interested in the meanings and symbolism to be found in specific tattoo designs. And while people are very much interested in great tattoo designs, most people want their tattoos to stand for something as important to them as "Strength, Family and Friendship", and of course, "Love".
2. Star Tattoos - another top ten tattoo design favorite, seen on a growing constellation of celebrities. I'm a star, I'm a star - get it!
Stars with a specific design have taken on an explicit meaning and symbolism on their own. Among the most well-know of these are the Pentagram (five-pointed star), the Nautical Star (five-pointed star), the Hexagram or Star of David (six-pointed star), all the way to the nonagram (nine-pointed star).
3. Tribal / Maori Tattoos - as popular as ever. Tribal tattoo designs, especially Maori and Polynesian designs, continue to be all the rage. The term "tribal" of course covers an astonishing array of tattoo design possibilities, from the traditional tribal tattoos of indigenous and aboriginal cultures, to the latest in graphic design for the body.
Maori tattooing is a distinct school of patterns and graphic designs within Polynesian tattooing. While much of Polynesian tattooing is derived from straight-line geometric patterns (and thought to originate with patterns found on ancient Lapita pottery shards such as have been discovered in Samoa), a design fact which rose in part because the traditional Polynesian tattoo combs are best suited to linear designs, Maori tattooing is essentially curvilinear, and the mainstay of Maori designs are based on the spiral. It should be noted that renowned traditional Hawaiian artist Keone Nunes has demonstrated that it is possible to reproduce complex curved designs using traditional Polynesian tattooing implements.
4. Cross / Crosses Tattoo - A perennial top ten favorite. The cross is a profound symbol of faith, hope, belief and sacrifice. Also a favorite design choice when wishing to memorialize a family member, friend or fallen comrade. And who do we think of most often at this time of year than the people we love and have loved and lost. A memorial tattoo is a way to help keep the memory of someone we cherished with us always.
One of the most ancient, widespread, and important symbols, the vertical and horizontal lines of the cross represent Father and Mother Nature respectively. Some of the cross' forms are the ank or tau, swastika or Thor's Hammer, crux ansata or cross with a handle, denoting power over material nature. The four arms of the cross represent the four elements, and its central point their synthesis or laya-point.
See also Religious Tattoos
5. Angel/Wings - Angels are often used to evoke protection as potent symbols of God's presence and as an expression of one's faith.
As a tattoo design, an angel is a symbol of devotion, spirituality and faith and signifies a relationship with God. An angel can be intended as a figure of guidance and protection. An angel is often used as the centerpiece of a tattoo that is intended as a memorial.
Wings as a tattoo design can often have inspirational or spiritual symbolism. In many myths, wings often have to be earned by their wearer. Wings, often associated with birds, represent speed, elevation, freedom and aspiration.
Wings associated with angels are spiritual, symbolizing enlightenment, guidance and protection - to be taken under the wing - and inspirational.
Wings associated with butterflies, dragonflies, fairies, mythological winged creatures like dragons, griffins, and the winged-horse Pegasus, have an element of the magical about them. As in alchemy and magic, wings can be transformational, allowing an individual access to a previously unattainable state. The presence of wings allows the combination of different elements, earth and sky, wind and fire.
6. Butterfly Tattoo Designs - A perennial top ten tattoo design. Its ranking shows the influence that women have in tattoo culture, as butterfly designs are an overwhelmingly feminine tattoo choice.
The butterfly, because of its short life, its physical beauty, and its fluttering from flower to flower seeking nectar, has among many ancient peoples been regarded as an emblem of the impermanent, unstable characteristics of the lower human soul. The caterpillar lives its period, making for itself a chrysalis, which after a stage of dormancy is broken by the emerging butterfly. This suggests the idea of the less becoming the greater, of an earthy entity becoming aerial. These thoughts led the ancient Greeks to use the butterfly as a symbol of the human soul (psyche); and in their mythology Psyche was in consequence represented in art with butterfly wings.
8. Eternity - Is it love, life, relationships or what? What is forever? Eternity! You and your date will be able to talk about the deep, deep significance of your tattoo all night long before you finally fall into a hot and sweaty embrace, much like Ami and Kat Von D I suppose. No wait - they couldn't stand each other and now they have separate reality television shows about tattoo shops on opposite sides of the Excited States of America! Gotta love television! Not much real going on there...
9. Sun Tattoos - The Sun as a tattoo design is a reflection of the Sun's profound symbolic nature in most cultures around the world. The sun was worshipped as a personified, life-giving deity in Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and almost every other major civilizations of history. The Sun or Sun figure was almost always the predominant figure within the pantheon of those spiritual belief systems.
Nearly every culture has a creation myth that explains how the sun came into being, and often times an accompanying apocalypse myth that details the end of the world, as we know it, when the sun is destroyed or devoured in some manner. Many cultures have myths that explain the rising and the setting of the sun, and this repeating cycle of light and dark has come to symbolize life and death, regeneration and reincarnation.
10. Phoenix - the legendary mythological bird of fire, is probably the most popular of all the rebirth and resurrection symbols. There are stories and fables that touch on the Phoenix myth in the ancient Middle East, India, China and the Greek and Roman Empires.
Abyssinian Cat Tattoos - The Abyssinian is a breed of domesticated cat with a distinctive ticked coat. There are many stories about its origins, often revolving around Egypt, but the actual origins are uncertain. The Abyssinian has become one of the most popular breeds of shorthair cat in the USA... more
Acorn Tattoos - In ancient cultures, the acorn was taken as a talisman to ward off evil spirits. In Britain, to carry around an acorn meant long life, good luck, and guidance when lost. Old English folklore says that a woman who carried an acorn on her person kept wrinkles at bay. For Thor, the Norse god of thunder, the oak was sacred because it withstood lightning strikes... more
Alligator Tattoos - Alligators and crocodiles are both members of the 'crocodilian' family, one of the few species on earth that don't hesitate to treat humans as food. That puts them at the top of the food chain, challenging human supremacy... more
Alphabet Tattoos - This alphabet, the one we’re using to write and read these very words, is known either as the Latin alphabet or the Roman alphabet, and is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. Its origins can be traced back to the first primitive impressions painted on the walls of caves.... more
Ambigram Tattoos - An ambigram tattoo is a graphical figure that spells out a word not only in its form as presented, but also in another direction or orientation. The text can also consist of a few words, and the text spelled out in the other direction or orientation is often the same, but can also be a different text... more
American Shorthair Cat Tattoos - The American Shorthair is the 8th most popular breed of cat in the United States according the Cat Fancier's Association for 2006-2007. The breed is believed to be descended from English cats (the forebears of today's British Shorthairs) brought to North America by early British settlers to protect valuable cargo from mice and rats.... more
Anamorphosis Tattoos - Anamorphosis is an artistic technique that creates an optical illusion that tricks the eye and by which the artist may conceal messages or images within a design. When viewed straight-on, the hidden element appears unrecognizable. Only when the observer shifts position and views the drawing or painting from a specific angle is the distorted image reconstituted into its proper perspective... more
Anarchy Tattoos - The usual symbol for anarchy is a stylized "A" within a circle. As a tattoo symbol and design, the anarchy "A" has been very popular with groups whose members have considered themselves as being on the fringes of accepted society... more
Anchor Cross Tattoos - The traditional anchor cross appears in various forms. One variation manages to include three crosses-by 'crossing' the two barbs of the double hook. This symbolism may represent the Holy Trinity to some, or perhaps the three crosses on Calvary. ... more
Anchor Tattoo Designs - The Anchor tattoo is a design that has been a fixture of modern western tattooing for the better part of two centuries, and has even more ancient symbolic roots going back several millennia. The anchor is a favorite of individuals who are associated with marine or naval careers... more
Anemone Flower Tattoos - The Anemone is a flower often associated with death and sleep. The anemone, of course, has come to symbolize the memorial to fallen soldiers of the two World Wars in the form of a poppy. The Anemone is featured in the myth of Aphrodite mourning the death of Adonis -- the flower sprung from her tears. .... more
Angel Tattoos - An angel tattoo design is an overtly religious symbol. Angels are anthropomorphic - meaning in the shape of men - winged forms intended to transmit the word of God to humankind. Angels personify divine will and are the messengers of God... more
Ankle Tattoos - When we think of gender specific tattoos, or feminine tattoos meant solely for girls and women, we usually conjure up the image of a delicate design -- flowers, or butterflies, perhaps -- located on a body part like the lower back, the bikini line or breast, the wrist or perhaps the ankle. And for good reason. The ankle is a delicate part of the body, and for that reason, very sexy, and uniquely so to the female of our species. Wherever tattoo styles wander, the ankle is likely to remain an attractive and popular patch of the human canvas for tattoos for girls... more
Apple Tattoos - Apples have long symbolized fertility, love, sensuality and sexuality, temptation and sin. No doubt apple enthusiasts eagerly anticipated the ripening of the fruit of the apple tree with its promise of sweetness to come as they turned from green to red in the rays of the sun. An apple is literally ripe with promise.... more
Armband Tattoos - Armband tattoo designs are arguably one of the most popular tattoo designs around. You see them wherever you look - in urban realms and rural hideouts, on CEO's and bikers, on young women and old men. Whether hidden beneath a sleeve or proudly displayed at the beach, an armband is a classic choice... more
Aztec Tattoos - In the daily life of an Aztec-around 600 years ago-pleasing the gods was a priority. No god was more important than Huitzilopochtili, the sun god, the giver of life and guardian of the heavens. He is depicted as a blue character with a headdress of hummingbird feathers. And fully armed.... more
Badger Tattoo Designs - The badger is either fierce, strong, and shy - or aggressive and anti-social - depending on your respect or antipathy for this nocturnal creature.
Many people came to first know the badger in Kenneth Graham's, The Wind in the Willows. Mr. Badger is a gruff, solitary figure who 'hates society'. But he is also the wise hermit, and proves himself brave, cooperating in times of need to keep the enemy away... more
Bamboo Tattoo Designs - Bamboo is a favourite tattoo design motif for individual seeking to have large parts of their anatomy covered with skin ink. In tattoo scenes which feature creatures like tigers and dragons, bamboo is a popular backdrop, used in a similar fashion to design elements like smoke, fire, clouds and water. Bamboo gives a tattoo an authentically Asian feel, its segmented stalks and long leaves instantly recognizable all around... more
Barbwire Tattoo Designs - The barbwire tattoo is a tattoo design that first came out of prison culture, then it was adopted in Latino culture in Southern California, was then co-opted by modern tribal tattoo genre artists... more
Barcode Tattoos - The use of the barcode as a tattoo design is meant to be ironical, a warning that if we are not careful as a culture, we are all in danger of becoming products ourselves. A barcode tattoo is also a protest against... more
Battlefield Cross Tattoo - A battlefield cross is a makeshift memorial to a fallen or missing soldier. Built from the soldier's inverted rifle, bayonet, boots and helmet, it's not exactly a cross. Nor is it meant to mark an actual grave, since casualties are usually transported home for burial. On or close to the spot where the soldier died in action, the instant sculpture honours their ultimate sacrifice, and provides comrades with an immediate ritual by which they can begin to make sense of their loss... more
Bat Tattoos - The only mammal that truly flies and not just glides, is the bat. By defying gravity and navigating with a heightened audio sensitivity, the bat has become a symbol of transformation, intuition, and clairaudient abilities. Because bats are highly social animals living together in colonies, they are also a symbol of adaptability and survival... more
Beagle Tattoo - The Beagle is a breed of small to medium-sized dog. A member of the Hound Group, it is similar in appearance to the Foxhound but smaller, with shorter legs and longer, softer ears. Beagles are scent hounds, developed primarily for tracking hare, rabbit, and other game.... more
Bear Tattoo - The bear is a popular symbol in many cultures around the world, appearing in many European, North American and Asian myths & legends. The bear was both feared & admired for its great strength and ferocity. In many indigenous stories, bears are humans transformed & bears are often seen as... more
Bear & Bull Tattoo - The bull and the bear, two of the most powerful animal symbols we have, are used to describe trends in the stock market. The market is 'bullish' when prices of equities charge upward over an extended period of time - and 'bear-ish' when prices are in continual decline. Short-lived upward or downward swings are referred to as 'corrections' in the market. The duration of the trend is key... more
Bee, Wasp or Hornet Tattoo - Mankind has had a long history with bees, and presumably with wasps & hornets as well. There is archaeological evidence dating back at least ten thousand years that early humans gathered honey-combs for the sweet treasure it contained. There is even a possibility that Neanderthals may have practiced a primitive form of bee-keeping, and it is well-known among primatologists that non-human primates avidly seek out and consume honey, so there is no reason to believe that we are any different. We have probably been pursuing the "sweet life" since the dawn of time.... more
Bernese Mountain Dog Tattoo - The Bernese Mountain Dog, called in Swiss German the Berner Sennenhund, is a large breed of dog, one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps. The name Sennenhund refers to people called Senn, herders in the Swiss Alps. Berner (or Bernese in English) refers to the area of the breed's origin... more
Betty Page Tattoos - Nicknamed the "Girl With The Perfect Figure", in 1955 Betty Page won the title "Miss Pin-up Girl of the World".
Bettie's allure was an image of the girl next door with an attitude that hinted at a love of the naughty. Her image on camera was shy and daring at the same time, simple, yet exotic.. more
Biomechanical Tattoos - Bio-mechanical tattoos are realistic, three-dimensional impressions of a robotic bio-realm beneath the skin. It's a 'tromp l'oeil', or 'trick of the eye', since the skin often appears to be peeled back to reveal what you're truly made of - an improbable (but somehow sublime) combination of mechanics and flesh. Where there should be a mess of blood and bone, tendons and sinew, we might see mechanical components - gears, tubes, and levers. Some say these titanium parts represent our hidden potential.. more
Bird Tattoos - Birds, real and fabled, have long been among the most popular of all the tattoo designs and symbols for over a hundred years. It is difficult to imagine American tattooing without the Eagle or Japanese tattooing without the Phoenix. Birds are powerful metaphors for our moods and phases of life. All over the world, birds have been chosen to represent the widest range of human emotions and every country and culture has stories and myths were birds play central roles.. more
Bird of Paradise Tattoos - Bird of Paradise tattoo designs can be found popping up in the most interesting of places, from the artwork of Greg Irons - iconoclastic San Francisco-based tattoo artist and graphic artist in the 60's and 70's - to the traditional Japanese tattooing of previous centuries. What is the attraction? The Bird of Paradise is the 'Diva' of the avian world, the flashy cousin of the raven and crow. The Bird of Paradise was rumoured to have come from the heavenly realms, where it soared through paradise without ever touching the earth... more
Birman Cat Tattoos - Also known as "Sacred Cat of Burma" (particularly so in some languages), it is not to be confused with the Burmese, which is a separate and dissimilar breed. The Birman has a pale coloured body and darker points with deep blue eyes. The Birman breed is recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) and by the Canadian Cat Association (CCA).... more
Black Cat Tattoos - Black Cat tattoo designs are usually associated as a symbol of the Occult, Witches and Pagan religions. During the terrible times of the Medieval Inquisitions carried out by the Roman Catholic Church, individuals who were thought to be heretics or witches were actively... more
Bluebell Tattoo - The bluebell -- has inspired lovers, artists, and poets to sing their praises, but all carry a warning. The Bluebell, while connoting constancy and everlasting love, is known to be an unlucky flower to pick.... more
Bluebird Tattoo - The bluebird -- like the swallow with which it's often associated -- is a favourite nautical symbol of good luck. As a nautical tattoo design, the bluebird has sometimes been mistaken within popular culture for the swallow, or swift... more
Boar Tattoo Designs - The Chinese Zodiac makes no distinction between the pig and the boar - the former having been domesticated from the wild boar some ten thousand years ago. In the West, the term boar is usually used to refer to the wild pigs of the forest. Technically, 'Boar' denotes an adult, uncastrated male of certain species, including the domestic pig. The wild variety is swift, nocturnal, omnivorous, and sports a razor sharp set of sharp tusks... more
Bodhi Tree Tattoo Designs - The Bodhi Tree, symbol of Buddha's enlightenment, is a reminder of the ultimate human potential that lies within us all. 'Bodhi' in the Sanskrit language, means 'fully awake'. Some people see this sacred Buddhist symbol as the 'World Tree', the mythical tree whose roots lie deep in the earth and whose branches support the heavens... more
Boxer Dog Tattoo - Developed in Germany, the Boxer is a breed of stocky, medium-sized, short-haired dog. The coat is smooth and fawn or brindled, with or without white markings. Boxers are brachycephalic (they have broad, short skulls), and have a square muzzle, mandibular prognathism (an underbite), very strong jaws... more
Brahma Tattoo Designs - Brahma is often said to have originated from the 'Cosmic Mother', although some sacred texts depict Brahma as the creative spirit arising from Brahman, the Supreme Being. Setting out to create the universe, Brahma first manifested water, into which his seed was planted. From this seed grew a golden egg, and out of that was Brahma born. Another interpretation finds Brahma arising from the thousand-petal lotus which sprang... more
Buddha Tattoos - As a tattoo symbol Buddha may be represented by a literal symbol, such as the statues of Buddha one is familiar with, or by a Lion, a Begging Bowl, a Stupa, an empty Throne, the Bodhi Tree - the tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment, Buddha's footprints, or... more
Buddha's Empty Throne - The Empty Throne of Buddha is often shown supporting the Dharma Wheel or the Bodhi Tree. Sometimes, the base of the throne is decorated with other symbols of the Buddha's teaching, such as lions and deer - see, The Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism. The idea of an 'empty throne' was meant to imply that the master is sitting there, yet no 'self' is present. The throne is a way to approach the master even through his absence... more
Buddha's Eyes - On almost all Buddhist shrines (stupas) - especially in Nepal - a giant pair of eyes look out from all four sides of the main tower, seeing in all directions. These are Buddha Eyes, or Wisdom Eyes, and they symbolize Buddha's omniscience. They are meant to remind us to cultivate compassion towards all living creatures, and to be mindful in everything we do. For the Nepalese, the Buddha's Eyes have come to symbolize their nation... more
Buddha's Footprint - Images of Buddha's footprint symbolize Buddha's presence in his teachings - the dharma - and enforce the fact that he was a mortal man who walked the earth. It reminds us that the spiritual life has its feet on the ground, and that while we aspire to 'transcendence', we should never lose awareness of the material plane of existence. At the same time, a disembodied foot speaks of Buddha's absence, the absence of the human personality, and by extension, his non-attachment to this life... more
Buddha's Three Jewels - IThe Three Jewels - known in Sanskrit as the Triratna - are not actual gems or precious stones at all, but gifts for those on the spiritual path. They are called 'jewels', because for practitioners of Buddhism, they are the most precious gifts in the spiritual life. They are the three refuges - the three sources of refuge from the endless cycle of rebirth (Samsara) - the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha... more
Buddhist Begging Bowl - The begging bowl is one of the primary symbols of the chosen life of the Buddhist monk. Every monk who has been initiated into Buddhist practice carries with him a begging bowl on his journey through life. It signifies the surrender of worrying about worldly living and also of concern for tomorrow. The Buddhist monk moves through the highways and byways of life with nothing but his begging bowl and his staff - and his beliefs... more
Buddhist Tattoos - Many of the symbols we now know as 'Buddhist' originated from the Hindu tradition, since it was into the Hindu culture and religion that Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, was born. Not until several centuries after his death did symbols relating specifically to the Buddha, and the religion he inspired, come into being... more
Buddhist Golden Fish Tattoos - In Buddhism, the golden fish - usually depicted as a pair - symbolize the state of fearlessness while afloat in an ocean of suffering - or what Buddhists call 'the sea of samsara'. The golden fish became the sign of happiness and emancipation, of freedom and spontaneity, all of which are the consequences and result of the liberation one experiences when taking the teachings of the Buddha to heart... more
Buddhist Knot Tattoos - The Endless Knot is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols in Buddhism, and one of the most popular symbols in Tibetan Buddhism. Also referred to as the 'Mystic Dragon', it symbolizes the infinite wisdom and compassion of the Buddha for all sentient beings.
Buddhist Lion Tattoos - A 'lion among men' was how the earliest followers of Buddha's referred to their enlightened master. In time, the lion was adopted as a symbol of Buddha himself, and remains the animal most often associated with him. Legend would have us believe that a lion followed the Buddha around after his enlightenment... more
Buddhist Treasure Vase Tattoos - The Treasure Vase - known also as the 'wealth vase' - and 'vase of inexhaustible treasure' - became the Buddhist symbol of spiritual abundance. As one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, it represents not only the wealth of Buddha's teaching but his never-diminishing generosity and compassion. Legend attributes to it a special quality, that of always remaining full despite much being taken from it... more
Buddhist Victory Banner Tattoos - One of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, the victory banner signifies Buddha's enlightenment through his conquering of passion, pride, lust, and the fear of death. These four pitfalls are known as the 'four maras', and are considered by Buddhists to be the hindrances we face on our spiritual journey. Liberation, or the state of nirvana, can only be realized when the battle over the four maras is won... more
Bull Tattoos - The Bull is a symbol of power, strength, resurrection, masculinity, fertility, impulsiveness, fathers, kingship, and the Zodiac sign and constellation Taurus. The widespread presence of the Bull in many different and widespread cultural mythologies and early religions can be explained by... more
Bulldog Tattoo - A Bulldog, also known as British Bulldog or English Bulldog, is a breed of dog which traces its ancestry to England. It should not be confused with other varieties such as the American Bulldog or the French Bulldog, which have a similar appearance... more
Butterfly Tattoo Designs - far and away one of the most popular tattoo design requests. Its ranking shows the influence that women have in tattoo culture, as butterfly tattoos & designs are an overwhelmingly feminine tattoo choice. The butterfly, because of its short life, its physical beauty, and its... more
Caduceus (the Physician's Staff) Tattoos - The caduceus derives from the Greek 'karykeion', meaning 'staff of the herald'. It was the symbol of the power to harm or to heal. It appears in images of the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, as a magic rod with twin snakes. Other variations show a staff entwined with twin serpents, topped with a pair of wings, or a winged sun and no snakes. Originally, those twin snakes may have been ribbons attached to the wings, eventually evolving into serpents... more
Cancer Astrology Tattoos - The Western astrological sign Cancer of the tropical zodiac (June 21 - July 22) differs from the astronomical constellation of Cancer and the Hindu astrological sign of the sidereal zodiac (July 21 - August 9). It's symbol is the crab.
Capricorn Astrology Sign Tattoos - The Western astrological sign of Capricorn is part of the tropical zodiac (December 22 (Winter solstice) - January 20) and the sidereal zodiac (January 15 - February 12). It is associated with the constellation Capricornus and the classical element of Earth, making it an Earth sign. it is one of the Cardinal signs (along with Aries, Cancer and Libra). Its symbol is the Goat.
Carnation Flower Tattoos - The white Carnation, believed to be an aphrodisiac, symbolized betrothal, love, and fertility, and became a popular wedding flower. The yellow Carnation was reserved for rejection, and red for an aching heart. In some cultures, however - especially France and the Francophone culture - the carnation symbolizes... more
Cat Tattoo Designs - First domesticated by the Egyptians thousands of years ago, the cat has made its way into the hearts and homes of many men and women across the world. The spirit of the cat is one of independence, quick recovery and freedom of thought. Because the domestication of the cat is... more
Cattle Brand Tattoo Designs - The origin of livestock branding goes back several thousand years. The ancient Egyptian, Greeks and Romans marked livestock - and slaves - with hot irons. Prisoners and criminals might also be branded with marks that identified their crimes. And branding is about identification, a brand is a mark or symbol of identity... more
Celtic Cross Tattoo Designs - If you are Irish, Scottish, or Welsh, the Celtic Cross as a tattoo may be more symbolic of your ethnic heritage than of faith. And that goes for other Celts as well, in Brittany, Cornwall, Galicia and the Isle of Mann.
Celtic Knot Tattoo Designs - Celtic knot designs while at first and foremost decorative on the surface, are at their roots very culturally significant and deeply symbolic. And so too can be Celtic tattoo designs.
Cheetah Tattoo Designs - As an animal totem and a tattoo design, the cheetah symbolizes swiftness, insight and focus. Of all the big cats, the cheetah is the fastest, capable of reaching speeds of more than 100 km/h - 68 mph - in 3 seconds. This dazzling display of acceleration makes the cheetah the fastest land animal on the planet and helps account in part for its immense popularity. With its small head, narrow waist and long tail, the cheetah is built for speed... more
Cherry Tattoo Designs - Certain fruits have strong fertility symbolism, and a deep red, ripe, juicy cherry is no exception. The cherry has come to represent chastity and purity as the fruit ripens on the tree. Once plucked, a cherry represents the loss of innocence and... more
Cherry Blossom Tattoo Designs - In Japan, cherry blossoms (sakura) are a metaphor for life. A brief, brilliant blooming, followed by the inevitable fall. Additionally, the cherry blossom is the Chinese symbol of feminine principal it also symbolized love in a language of herbs.
The cherry blossom tattoo is a symbol of female beauty and sexuality. The cherry blossom as a tattoo design is a powerful reminder that life is fleeting and we must live in the present and cherish every waking moment, for it may... more
Cherub Tattoo Designs - Of the many tattoo symbols and designs with a religious theme, two stand out in popularity; angels and the cross. Angels are a powerful tattoo image, as they profess faith and offer the wearer a sense of protection and guidance. And cherubs are among the most popular of the angel tattoo designs.
A cherub or cherubim, are angels depicted as infants or young children, most often boys. Historically, winged figures with a human form pre-date even the bible, going back to Assyrian myths & legends. The winged figures were... more
Chihuahua Tattoos - Both folklore and archeological finds show that the Chihuahua originated in Mexico. The most common theory and most likely is that Chihuahuas are descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico.... more
Chinese Characters - a growing interest, perhaps showing the influence of the popularity in Japanese and other Asian tattoo styles. Chinese characters or Han characters (汉字/漢字) are logograms used in the written forms of the Chinese language, and to varying degrees in the Japanese and Korean languages (though the latter only in South Korea). Use of Chinese characters has disappeared from the... more
Chinese Zodiac Symbols - The 12 animals represented in the Chinese Zodiac are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar. There are many legends to explain the beginning of the zodiac. This fortune-telling system is derived from the principle characteristics of the system: the Zodiac, the five elements of Chinese thought, calendrical cycles based on astronomy, and ancient Chinese religion.
Christian Tattoo Symbols -The most popular symbols of choice for most Christians are Crosses,Angels, Doves, and Praying Hands. With these images they are looking to more permanently express their individuality, identity and faith. They have put the famous biblical prohibition well behind them... more
Chrysanthemum tattoos - One of the most widely cultivated flowers in the world, the chrysanthemum's popularity has grown such that "mums" now reign as the undisputed "Queen of the Fall Flowers." Centuries of careful breeding by gardeners has resulted in a wide range of floral colors, shapes, and sizes. Today, the flower's colors include various shades of pink, purple, red, yellow, bronze or orange, and white.
In Japanese tattooing, certain design elements are often paired together, with specific flowers figuring prominently. There are several traditional combinations: ryu (dragon) with kiku (chrysanthemum), Karajishi, which is... more
Circle Tattoo Symbols -It's easy to imagine the circle as prehistoric man's first symbol. Early man was surrounded by circles, and the cycles of nature, from the moment he awoke to the first rays of the rising sun, until bedding down as the full moon rose in the night sky. At night, the universe appeared to be made of countless tiny sparkling dots of light. The circle was... more
Claddagh Tattoos - The Claddagh is a very old Celtic design of reputed Irish origin, and when worn as a ring, is an extremely popular symbol of friendship and love. The Claddagh shows two hands holding a heart topped with a crown. Interestingly, there are even older ring designs throughout the Mediterranean that appear to be two clasped-hands. It is entirely possible that the Romans brought such ring designs with them when they invaded the British Isles and may have been a source of inspiration for the design that would eventually evolve into the Claddagh. The Celts, brilliant gold and silversmiths and metal-workers in their own right would undoubtedly have had occasion to encounter these designs... more
Clown Tattoos - Laughter has always been the language of the spirit. We open our mouths to laugh, and the gods of healing and good fortune find a way inside the hardest heart. Long live the clown!
By 'clown' we usually mean the comic characters known for their buffoonery and garish makeup. That clown, however, is preceded historically by other more intelligent incarnations known as jesters, minstrels, tramps, tricksters, troubadours, and mimes. For symbolic purposes, we include the entire family of clowns going back centuries, because they all live to mock the... more
Cobra Tattoos - Of all the species of cobra, the King Cobra reigns as the largest venomous snake in the world. When the cobra is alert, it rises up and flattens its neck into the distinctive 'hood' that is instantly recognizable... more
Cocker Spaniel Tattoos - The American Cocker Spaniel breed standard defines the ideal dog of the breed as having an outgoing, friendly temperament. They tend to be soft dogs who do not do well with rough or harsh training. The breed ranks 20th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, a rating that indicates good "Working or Obedience Intelligence", or trainability... more
Coffin Tattoos - Coffin tattoo designs are a reminder of our mortality and that we are all not long for this world. At the end of Life, Death waits for all of us, and short of cremation, we are all food for worms. Interestingly enough, in many initiation ceremonies, the initiate is placed inside a coffin as if to symbolize their death, and when they are removed from the coffin it is a ritualistic... more
Comedy Tragedy Masks - Comedy and tragedy, one facial expression bursting with mirth, the other one upside-down with sorrow, this is the pair of theatrical masks so familiar around the world. They are often referred to as Greek Theatre Masks, or Comedy Tragedy Masks, or Happy Sad Masks... more
Compass Tattoos - The compass design is a popular maritime tattoo, reflecting the long history that has intertwined body art and sailors, and is similar to the nautical star in its symbolism. In the early age of sail, mariners navigated their way through uncharted waters and unknown perils armed only with the stars at night, a compass to point North and there own wits to... more
Conch Shell Buddhist Tattoos - The sacred conch shell - symbol of the fearless proclamation of the Buddha's teachings - is also symbolic of the call to awaken others.
One of the Eight Auspicious Symbols used in Buddhist ritual and ceremony, the conch shell can also be seen as representing Buddha's dharma radiating as from a horn in all directions. It represents 'right speech' and is sometimes inscribed or carved on the throat of Buddha statues... more
Cougar Tattoos - Cougar, mountain lion, panther, puma, catamount -- by any name this illusive member of the cat family found largely in North America is admired for its swiftness, stealth, strength and intelligence, but also for the devoted attention it pays to its young. When hunting, the cougar instinctively attacks its prey's most vulnerable spot, grabbing its victim by the throat if it can, by the spine if it can't. It can kill with one bite. Elusive, shy, withdrawn and... more
Coyote Tattoos - As a trickster and on occasion, reluctant hero, the coyote is found in the mythology of almost all the different tribes found throughout the Americas. Rude, interfering, and restless, he is a nevertheless a powerful totem, and the symbol of survival, adaptability and health.... more
Crab Tattoo Designs - The crab is a lunar symbol. This may be due to the fact that it sheds its shell, just as the moon sheds its phases. In any event, it is associated with the feminine, the ocean, and motherhood... ood... more
Crane Tattoo - Throughout the Far East, the crane is considered an auspicious bird and is known variously as the bird of happiness, the heavenly crane, and bird of peace. In Japan, after the Second World War, origami (folded paper) cranes became a symbol of peace and hope. As a tattoo motif, the crane can be a symbol of grace, wisdom, peace, and love of life. Although occasionally confused with Storks and Herons, Cranes are a unique family of birds all their own.... more
Crescent Moon & Stars Tattoo - Both the Moon and Star or Stars are among the most popular tattoo designs in the world. But what is the unique significance and symbolism behind a crescent moon, accompanied by a star or stars?
Many, many moons ago, long before the Turks converted to Islam and adopted the crescent moon and star as central emblems for their national flag, the moon and the star were symbols of their shamanistic beliefs. It was also the symbol of the ancient city of... more
Crocodile Tattoos - 'Evolution's greatest survivor' - that's author Lynne Kelly's ode to the crocodile. In the West, both alligator and crocodile are symbols of destructive voracity, and agents of divine retribution... more
Cross Tattoos - As a tattoo design or symbol, there is perhaps no religious icon or symbol more universally recognized today than the Christian Cross. Religious symbolism is prominently featured in several tattoo design genres, both ancient and modern, and in fact it could be argued that all traditional tattooing among indigenous peoples has a strong spiritual element.
Within modern tattoo genres, the cross is a tattoo design that has been in vogue for at least the last two centuries, and was tattooed by sailors, merchant seamen, was heavily represented in Old School tattooing, was popular among Military Serviceman, Latino tattooing, and is today one of the most popular tattoo designs in the world.
The Cross itself is one of the most ancient, widespread, and important symbols in human history - the vertical and horizontal lines representing... more
Cross Moline Tattoos - As a tattoo design and symbols, the Moline Cross has a wonderful gothic feel and appearance, alluding to both the spiritual and to a time in history long since past. So if knights, fair maidens, jousting tournaments, slaying dragons and renaissance fairs hold great appeal, this may be just the cross design you are looking for.... more
Crow Tattoos - Taking on, or in other words, getting a crow tattoo can mean many things, ranging all the way from the profane to the sublime. It's best to enter the tattoo studio well informed if you are seeking a crow tattoo.
We speak of a herd of horses, a school of fish, a pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, but crows? A grouping of crows is described as a 'murder' of crows. When it comes to this species of bird's reputation, it seems the crow can't catch a break. Perhaps it's because in the West (or at least, the recent West), the Crow has long been considered a bad omen... more
Crown Tattoos - The crown has long been used as a symbol of royal power and authority. Like the sceptre, the crown is a visible badge of office, granting the wearer, it's possessor, the absolute right to rule. That authority to rule was often held to be divinely inspired. In the Christian tradition the garland of thorns placed on Christ's head during the ordeal of his crucifixion is know as the "Crown of Thorns". The centerpiece of any coronation of a new monarch is always the moment when the new King, Queen, or Emperor has the state crown placed upon their head. At that moment the power to rule is transferred to the new monarch.
As a tattoo symbol, the crown doesn't just mean the right of one person to command another. It symbolizes and individual's sovereignty over their own life, feelings, thoughts, and... more
Cupid Tattoos - In Roman mythology, Cupid (Latin cupido) is the god of erotic love. He is equated with the Greek god Eros, and another one of his Latin names Amor (cognate with Kama). In popular culture Cupid is frequently shown shooting his bow to inspire romantic love, often as an icon of Valentine's Day. Cupid as a holiday character and symbol usually represents Valentines Day and the emotion of love... more
Dachshund Tattoos - Dachshunds are playful, known for their propensity for chasing small animals, birds, and tennis balls with great determination and ferocity. Many dachshunds are stubborn, making them a challenge to train.... more
Dagger Tattoos - Dagger and knife tattoo designs and symbols are a reoccurring theme and image (that means they pop up a lot!) in many different tattoo genres and eras, and are often tattooed by themselves as a singular object or as an integral part of a gruesome tale! Dagger images are very popular in Old School tattoo designs, as well as New School... more
Daisy Tattoos - The name for the flower is derived from "Days eye", because the flower opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. Its Latin name may come from the Latin Bellis, meaning beautiful, so Bellis Perennis can be translated as perennial beauty. Since that time, daisies have been associated with children and the innocence of childhood. For young women, a bouquet of daisies denoted a particularly innocent, pure and chaste expression of... more
Dalmation Tattoos - The Dalmatian (Croatian: Dalmatinac or Dalmatiner) is a breed of dog widely associated with Dalmatia, a region of Croatia, and firefighters although the exact origin remains unknown. It is noted for its white coat with either black or liver spots.... more
Day of the Dead Tattoos - The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st, and November 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday... more
Death Tattoos - Of all the things that we can be sure of in life, the only thing we can know with absolute certainty is that we will die. Death is inevitable. From the moment of birth we all begin the long, or perhaps tragically short, march towards death. We will all leave this mortal coil. We will all, regardless of social status or rank, Kings and peasants alike, be consumed by fire & flame or by worms... more
Death's Head Skull Tattoos - "Death Head" Skull is used to describe a military insignia featuring a skull above crossed bones. It is distinguished from the similar traditions of the skull and crossbones and the Jolly Roger (pirate symbol) by the fact that the bones are positioned directly behind the skull.
Deer Tattoos - Walt Disney's "Bambi" tells us just about everything we need to know about the fawn - innocent, child-like, vulnerable. The doe, the doting mother watching over the fawn in a forest fraught with danger, speaks of 'standing strong' in guidance and protection, focusing on the job at hand, ignoring distractions that would put the fawn at risk. Actually, Disney painted only the most placid and feminine aspects of the doe, and the most masculine attributes of the stag.... more
Demon Tattoos - Demons, in one form or another, are prominently featured in the history of tattooing, both ancient and modern and in many different tattoo cultures and modern tattoo design genres. Demons are potent tattoo designs, rich with meaning and... more
Devil Tattoos - The devil is the name given to a supernatural entity, who, in most Western religions, is the central embodiment of evil. This entity is commonly referred to by a variety of other names, including Satan, Asmodai, Beelzebub, Lucifer and/or Mephistopheles. In classic demonology, however, each of these alternate names refers to a specific supernatural entity, and there is significant disagreement as to whether any of these specific entities is actually... more
Dharma Wheel Tattoos - The Dharma Wheel is the most recognized symbol around the world as representing Buddhism. As such, it is a powerful tattoo design, potent with symbolism.
The Buddha's teachings are known as the 'dharma'. Early Buddhists visualized their master's teachings as a wheel that would roll through a person's life inspiring radical spiritual change. The Wheel would also roll from one end of the known world to the other, spreading the dharma teaching as it went. And in truth, it did, starting in India and moving into Central Asia, then South East Asia, and Japan - and it hasn't stopped yet... more
Dice Tattoos - Dice or a pair of dies, are the familiar numbered cubes that we all used to use to play Yahtzee as children, or any other games of chance in which the random tumbling of the dies determines the games outcome. Games of chance and gambling using dice or similar objects is common in many cultures around the world.
Dice games, by their very nature, tend to rely much more on luck than skill. As tattoo designs, dice are a metaphor for life. As players we can no more determine or predict the numbers that will turn up on a... more
Dog Tattoos - Dogs have long been popular tattoo symbols, and are often featured as memorials to beloved family pets. The dog is a powerful symbol of loyalty, vigilance, and intelligence, the modern Dog is descended from the Asiatic Wolf, and the first animal to be domesticated. Our relationships with dogs goes back over 40,000 years! Recent genetic research suggests that the first true Dog showed up in China about 15,000 years ago. There, the Dog is the 11th sign of the Zodiac and represents... more
Dog (Chinese Zodiac Symbol)
Check out different dog tattoo designs by some of the world's top tattoo artists and illustrators.
Dolphin Tattoos - The popularity of the dolphin tattoo design can most definitely be traced back to a long standing empathy and understanding between our two species. Humans and dolphins have co-existed for quite some time now, and the more we continue to learn about these creatures, the more we come to believe that the dolphin carries a divine spark that separates them from... more
Dove Tattoo Designs - The Dove is a symbol of the Holy Ghost in some Christian denominations and is often used in representations of the Baptism of Jesus Christ, and the Pentecost. Most will be familiar with the Bible story of the Great Flood, and of God commanding Noah to build an Ark capable of carrying two of every animal and bird.
Dragonfly Tattoo Designs - The dragonfly, like the fairy and butterfly tattoo is an extremely popular tattoo design for women. The design can be a small sexy secret or a large tribute to the wild and free spirit that the dragonfly represents. The dragonfly is the power of light. The dragonfly inhabits two realms: air and water and passes the influence of both these elements to the wearer.
The image of the dragonfly sparks the creative power of the imagination. Living in an aura of fantasy, the dragonfly's fluttering wings inspire thoughts of fairies and butterflies; bubbles and snowflakes. They flit from flower to flower, from tree to tree; settling on dew-kissed leaves and grass. Within sight yet always out of reach, the dragonfly has buzzed itself into the tattoo culture. Dragonfly tattoo designs are landing everywhere - on arms, chests, hips and... more
Dragon Tattoo Designs - a dragon is a classic tattoo design that shows the influence of Japanese and Chinese culture in western tattooing. This design is popular with both men and women. A dragon is wondrous monster, often thought of as a giant winged, fire breathing lizard or snake. Dragons were said to represent the Four Elements, so the stories and myths of dragons who had dominion over Air, Water, Earth and Fire... more
Dragon (Chinese Zodiac Symbol)
Check out different dragon tattoo designs by some of the world's top tattoo artists and illustrators.
Dreamcatcher Tattoo Designs - The image and symbol of the Native American Dream Catchers are a tattoo design that has captured the imagination of body art enthusiasts for more than a generation. The Dreamcatcher tattoo is a powerful symbol of protection, acting as an amulet or talisman against evil and harm.
Duck Tattoo Designs - Think 'duck'.
A significant number of military and patriotic service tattoos prominently feature eagles. The eagle is a very ancient symbol, generally regarded as solar. For the Greeks and Persians the eagle was sacred to the... more
Egyptian Tattoos - For those fascinated with the culture and history of ancient Egypt, there is an extraordinary body of symbols and designs from with which to choose a tattoo design or symbol, ranging from simple hieroglyphs, to a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses and many other extraordinary... more
The Eight Ball is often included in tattoos such as "Man's Ruin" - or misfortune - alcohol, drugs, gambling, an unfaithful woman, etc, or in tattoos that featuring gambling - dice, playing cards, race horses, etc. Conversely, some individuals see the eight ball as being lucky, if controlled. It is a tattoo design that hints at danger, living on the edge and casting your fortune upon the... more
Elephant Tattoos - An Elephant Tattoo design is generally considered a symbol of good luck. In fact, elephants are often collected by people - like pigs and frogs - because in many cultures these animals are symbols of good fortune. Elephants once ranged widely all over Africa and Asia and as such, they were familiar creatures with legendary and even mythic qualities, due probably in no small part to the awe they inspired because of their immense size and power. Elephant ivory has also always been highly valued and prized and was... more
Elf / Elves - Elves were the magical little people of Teutonic legend. In German mythology, the elf was a type of fairy who lived in forests, sometimes in the sea, and even in the air. From Shakespeare's Puck to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, elves have been the staple characters for writers and fabulous manifestations in art. They are still fantasy favourites of children of all ages. Asked, "Do you believe in elves?" few today would deny their existence.... more
Elvish Script - It is a testament to the breadth and scope of J.R.R.Tolkien's vision and imagination that the Elvish Alphabet or Script should be a popular tattoo motive, because Elvish is an invented language. Tolkien was a professor at Oxford from 1925-1959, a philologist, poet and a writer, but is best known as the author of The Hobbit and the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. The success of those novels spawned an entire genre of 'fantasy' fiction, of invented worlds and realms... more
Exotic Shorthair Cats - Breeders crossed the American Shorthair with the Persian in the United States around 1960. Thus were born shorthaired Persians, called Exotic Shorthairs and recognized by the C.F.A in 1966. During the breeding program, crosses were also made with the Russian Blue and the Burmese. Since 1987, the only allowable outcross breed is the Persian.... more
Eye of Horus Tattoos - a continuing indication of the fascination with all things Egypt. The Eye of Horus is the symbol for Horus, the Falcon Sky God. The Eye was a symbol that signified royal power. The ancients believed this symbol of indestructibility would assist in rebirth, due to their beliefs about the soul. The more recent tradition of freemasonry adopted the symbol and as such it has survived to this day, and appears as the Eye of Providence on the recto of the Great Seal of the United States. The Eye of Horus was found under... more
Falcon Tattoo Designs - Domesticated falcons serving as the hunter's companion have been around since the Iron Age. While 'in training', they are fitted with a leather hood. This 'hooded falcon' has come to symbolize 'the hope of liberty'... more
Family Crest Tattoo Designs (Coat of Arms Tattoos, Clan Tattoos, Heraldry Tattoos) - For hundreds of years, perhaps even thousands, one of the most popular ways for people to celebrate their family ties and heritage has been to get tattoos of their family crests, coat of arms and other symbols that recognize their family surname and history. In Great Britain, whether you are English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh and in most of the countries of Europe individuals can often trace their family history and surname to a particular stylized design that at one time would have decorated shields and banners as a method of identifying individuals going into battle... more
Fairy and Fairie Tattoo Designs - The Fairy as a tattoo design can be as simple as a take-off on the often overpowering presence of corporate America in pop-culture, think Tinkerbell and Disney creatures, or it harkens back to a rich history of story, myth and folklore. Fairies in literature are often the personification of human wishes and desire in the form of little people with magical powers. As a tattoo design they can be symbols of... more
Feather Tattoo Designs - Feathers are usually associated with birds or wings or Native American imagery in most tattoo designs. A single feather as a tattoo design may represent or symbolize the ability to take flight, either spiritually, emotionally or creatively.
Some feathers are so distinctive in their shape and size that they are easily identified with a specific species of bird, such as the feathers of the Eagle, Peacock, Ostrich Plume, and... more
Fire Dragon Tattoo Designs - Of all the mythical creatures, the dragon is the most universal and is prominently featured in hundreds of cultures. Perhaps for that reason, its meaning as a symbol is not always consistent.
In the East the dragon is generally considered to be beneficent creature, where as in the West it's more often a primordial enemy with whom combat is considered the ultimate supreme test. Only he who conquers the dragon becomes a hero, according to myth and legend. In conjuring up this most horrific symbol, we have gone back a long way to the dinosaur prototype, and often imagine it breathing fire.
But as a symbol or as a tattoo design, is that a positive or negative... more
Fish Tattoo Designs - fish tattoo designs are ancient with deep symbolic meaning. And of course we can't forget the astrological symbol of Pisces.
Flags & Patriotic Tattoos - Few symbols are as powerful at identifying an individual as belonging to a particular tribe or group than a tattoo; and there is perhaps no greater symbol identifying a sovereign nation than its flag, so it should come as no surprise that flags are extraordinarily popular as tattoo designs.
Flag tattoo designs are a powerful way for an individual to symbolize their love, devotion, patriotism and sense of national pride for their country.
Flag tattoos can be straightforward renditions of a countries flag or they can be heavily stylized. In many cases, flag tattoos are designed to show the colours of the national flag within an outline... more
Flames / Fire Tattoo - As a tattoo design Flames may represent transformation, destruction, change, passion, a beacon of light and knowledge and serve as a warning to the wearer. Flames, fires and burning have often been used in religious rites and symbolism, as the smoke of the fire wafts towards the heavens it was thought to bear the wishes and prayers of the faithful. An object or sacrifice that is consumed in a fire becomes flames, heat and smoke and all that remains afterwards is ash.
The destructive power and ability of fire to destroy much in it's path has made it both feared and revered. For while a flame may destroy something if it is not controlled, fire also gives off heat to ward off the cold, and light, to hold back the darkness. Fire and flames as symbolized in torches, beacons, urns, candles represent symbols of hope and light and... more
Flamingo Tattoo - The flamingo is the unofficial symbol of Florida, and of travel to tropical destinations and leisure in general. The flamingo is a status symbol for trailer park residents throughout America, and in it's plastic, lawn-ornament incarnation, is the Icon of kitsch and bad taste par excellent... more
Fleur-de-lis Tattoo Designs - The fleur-de-lis (or fleur-de-lys, plural: fleurs-de-lis. Translated from French as "lily flower") is a stylized design of either an iris or a lily that is now used purely decoratively as well as symbolically, or it may be "at one and the same time political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic and symbolic", especially in heraldry. While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy on a historical context, and nowadays with... more
Flower Tattoo Designs - Flowers as tattoo designs and symbols can be far more than just pretty pictures on pretty girls. Flowers are the embodiment of nature and concise symbols of the cycle of birth, life, procreation, death and rebirth. Specific flowers have come to represent a myriad of different beliefs in different cultures. In the East, the lotus flower has tremendous spiritual significance, as does the rose in the West. Similarly, the tremendous spectrum of colours present in flowers can have symbolic importance; white for purity, red for passion, or to... more
Foo Dog (Fu Dog) Tattoos- Foo Dog, Lion Dog, and Celestial Dog are all names given to the creatures that guarded the Buddhist temples of the Far East more than two thousand years ago. Foo dog is also called the Lion of Buddha (the lion being sacred in Buddhism), and was seen as the protector of Buddhist Dharma. Where the Foo Dog appears in tattoo designs today, it combines both lion and dog features, and is likely to be spotted with claws out and teeth... more
Four-Leaf Clover Tattoo Designs - As tattoo designs and symbols, the shamrock and four-leaf clover are very popular with Celts of Irish descent. In fact it is hard to imagine a St. Patrick's Day without Shamrocks and Four-Leaf Clovers to accompany Leprechauns and green beer.
The Shamrock and Four-Leaf Clover are universal symbols of Ireland all over the world, a symbol of being of Irish descent and in the case of the four-leaf clover, a potent symbol of luck or good fortune. Interestingly enough, both shamrocks and four-leaf clovers are one in the same - with a crucial difference... more
Fox Symbols & Designs - The fox is a fascinating symbol, a cunning predator whose small size makes it both predator and prey in the great pyramid of the hunters and the hunted. Not at the apex as a killer, but never to be taken lightly as a carnivore or omnivore. Shape shifter, cunning trickster, and traveller of the twilight hours, the fox emerges as a symbol of magic and luck, both good and bad. Men have often identified with the fox and its cousin, the coyote. Never as powerful or as omnipotent as apex predators like the wolf, the bear, the lion and... more
Frog Symbols & Designs - a tattoo design that cuts across many cultures. As a member of the animal clan, the Frog is seen as a teacher. A lunar creature that resonates with water, it also lives on land. A cold-blooded creature, Frog possesses an extremely sensitive skin which shamans consider magical. In many cultures, the Frog is associated with the ability to jump from one state of consciousness to another. The frog is a symbol of... more
Fruit Tattoos Designs & Symbols - Fruit is nature's miracle, the botanical ovary, the vessel that holds the seeds to future life. Little surprise, then, that fruit often serves as a prominent symbol of abundance, fertility and prosperity. Think no further than a Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty. Potent symbols of an abundant Harvest. In Greek mythology, the Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty is the horn of the goat that suckled Zeus, the supreme Greek deity, which broke off and became filled, indeed, overflowed with copious amounts of fruit.... more
Full Rigged Ship Tattoo Design - A tattoo of a full-rigged sailing ship, with the words, "Homeward Bound" is one of the most recognizable of all maritime and nautical tattoos.
There is perhaps no tattoo design more associated with sailors and seamen that the tattoo of a full-rigged sailing ship under full sail, it's bow splitting the waves, clouds and seabirds in the background. Most of the sailing ships depicted in these tattoos were Clipper Ships. These tattoos were often very large and took place of pride on a sailor's back or chest, with smaller versions on upper arms and shoulders.
A rather macabre variation of the Full-Rigged Ship tattoo, was the "Sailor's Grave" tattoo... more
Ganesha Tattoos - Ganesha (or Ganesh) the zoomorphic deity with the head of an elephant and the body of a human, is one of the most popular of India's many deities. Lord of Success and Destroyer of Obstacles both material and spiritual, Ganesha is the god of Everyman. It's no surprise that his image is found in the poorest of huts to the richest of palaces. As the god associated with scholarship and commerce, Ganesha is revered throughout Asia and in Indian communities around the world... more
Gargoyle Tattoos - (Griffon, Griffin, or Gryphon) Gargoyles are increasingly popular as tattoo designs and have been around for thousands of years as the water spouts with the not-so-cuddly faces. You have probably seen them as architectural decoration, usually at the roof line channelling water from the gutters. It became generally believed that these elaborately grotesque characters could keep away evil spirits and protect the buildings and their occupants from harm. The figures are meant to act as amulets and talismans of protection.
Medieval believers claimed that as the rainwater gushed out of the open-mouthed creature, it turned into holy water. These demonic humanoids usually display their talons, tails and horns, and often come with wings and fins. The word 'gargoyle' has its roots in French and Latin for 'throat' and 'swallow'. Think 'gargle', and you'll know what Gargoyles are all... more
Gecko Tattoos - A very popular lizard for tattoo designs in the gecko, which appears often in Polynesian tribal tattoos. The gecko is supposed to have supernatural powers, and is regarded by Polynesians with fear and awe. It is rumored that if a green gecko "laughs" at you, it's a terrible omen of illness and bad fortune... more
Geisha Tattoos - The Japanese word geisha means 'person of the arts' and a true geisha is said to be a living work of art. To the Westerner, she is a figure of mystery and intrigue. Her white mask-like makeup hides emotions, her traditional black wig is dressed with tinkling bells, and her small body is wrapped tightly in kimonos of breathtaking colour and exquisite design, bound in the middle with the wide sash or obi. In her thonged sandals, her... more
Gemini Astrology Sign Tattoos - The Western astrological sign of Gemini forms part of the tropical zodiac (May 21 - June 20) and of the sidereal zodiac (June 20 - July 20).
German Shepherd Tattoos - The German Shepherd Dog is a breed of large-sized dog that originated in Germany. German Shepherds are a relatively new breed of dog, whose origins date to 1899. As part of the Herding group, the German Shepherd is a working dog developed originally for herding sheep. Because of their strength, intelligence and abilities in obedience training they are often employed in police and military roles... more
Giraffe Tattoos - The giraffe is a symbol of Africa. Nowhere else on the planet does this most extraordinary creature have a natural home. The nation of Tanzania has adopted the giraffe as one of its official symbols. And if you adopt this remarkable animal as a tattoo motif, it may well be seen as a symbol of your concern for all wildlife in danger of extinction, and of the environment at large. Gentle animal that it is, you are projecting an image of peaceful co-existence... more
Gnome Tattoos - Gnomes are the dwarfish imps of Northern European mythology. Like Trolls, they liked to live underground, too, and according to Swedish legend, were the guardians of mineral treasure. It wasn't surprising to find them frequently in quarries and mines, even preventing miners from entering their mines, or so the stories went... more
Goat Tattoos - Virile, lustful and cunning, the goat has stirred the human imagination for millennia. Strong sexual connotations surround the goat - horns and erect members - turning it into a symbol of male potency, but also female fecundity and nurturing. As an animal totem, the goat's sharp horns symbolize perception. It represents practicality and stability, encouraging balanced perspective. Patience, honest ambition and determination are also symbols of... more
Goat (Ram or Sheep Chinese Zodiac Symbol)
Check out different goat tattoo designs by some of the world's top tattoo artists and illustrators.
Grape Tattoo Symbols - Images, designs and symbols of lush clusters of ripe, or pregnant grapes - whether on vines, in bowls, or in the still life painting of the Masters -- are a reminder of the pleasures that humans have drawn from grapes since their earliest discovery. In tattoos, the single cluster of grapes says joi de vivre, but together with the vine and its spiralling tendrils and leaves, the grape design becomes a sensuous body-covering motif. Grapes and vines are wonderful tattoo designs to drape sensuously around an arm, over a shoulder or around a waist... more
Grasshopper & Locust Tattoo Designs - A 'plague of locusts' is perhaps our most common reference to the grasshopper family, and gives this insatiable insect a horrifying reputation. Walt Disney did his best to anthropomorphize this creature in the guise of Jiminy Cricket, the comical and wise sidekick of Pinocchio, serving as his official conscience. In heraldry, nobility and wisdom were two of the grasshopper's attributes, emblematic of great warriors and destroyers.... more
Greek Alphabet Tattoo Symbols - The Greek Alphabet emerged about the time the ancient Olympic Games first came into play, about 700 BC. This Greek Alphabet distinguished itself from other alphabets by becoming the first writing system with a separate symbol for every sound, including vowels along with the consonants. It has upper and lower case, the lower more frequently used. Originally, the Greek Alphabet was written right to left, but later was reversed and has remained so, ever since... more
Greek Cross Tattoo Symbols - The Greek Cross, in evidence in Ancient Greece of three thousand years ago, is recognized today as the symbol for the Red Cross, being equal in all four arms. And, of course, the cross is recognized as the "plus sign" in mathematics, first appearing as such in Germany in 1489.... more
Greek Tattoo Symbols - Ancient Greece and Greek culture have had a powerful influence on the development of art and civilization in Europe and the West in particular. Our modern governmental institutions and art forms can all trace their roots to Greece.
Grim Reaper Tattoos - The grim reaper is a potent symbol of death and a graphic reminder of the transitory nature of life. The Grim Reaper and the Skull were often used as symbols in medieval and renaissance art as a stark reminder of the fact that life is finite and hints powerfully at the afterlife that awaits us. Many paintings of saints in particular prominently feature skulls, and art that depicted famine and disease often contain the cloaked and hooded figure of the Grim Reaper, skull peeking out, scythe in hand to better harvest human souls... more
Guitar Tattoos - As a musical instrument the guitar has a history which goes back nearly three thousand years. Guitars come in two varieties, the first of which is the acoustical guitar having a flat-backed rounded body that narrows in the middle, a long fretted neck, and usually six strings, played by strumming or plucking. The body of an acoustic guitar is hollow and the sound is produced by the reverberations of sound produced when the strings vibrate... more
Gun & Bullet Tattoos - 'Guns don't kill people...' (and you surely know the rest of this quote, which is staple of American-themed bumper stickers), and it may even be true when the firearm in question is in the form of a tattoo design, yet the symbolism is unmistakably lethal. It's loaded and it's deadly. Power, violence, and a determined personality - these are the messages meant to part your hair like a bullet when you lay eyes on a well-executed gun tattoo.... more
Haida Tattoo Designs - The Haida are renowned around the world for the beauty and complexity of their art and images. The bold lines of the Haida designs make them uniquely suited to be reproduced as tattoos. And for good reason - the art with which the Haida are synonymous today, the totems poles, carvings and prints - are largely derived from ancient tattoo designs that the Haida used to depict Clan Crests. The Haida were once one of the most heavily tattooed indigenous people in the world, and were one of very few groups in recorded history to tattoo in colour, using red as well as black.
Hannya Mask Tattoos - The most well-known demon mask in Japanese theatre, the Hannya mask has two sharp horns protruding from the temples, and bulging eyes staring from beneath a glowering forehead. The mouth is a gaping hole with grotesquely exaggerated canine teeth protruding from the mouth like the fangs of a wild animal. With its range of fierce emotions and expressions, the Hannya mask is a favourite tattoo image with enthusiasts of traditional Japanese tattooing... more
Hanuman Monkey God Tattoos - Hanuman, known as the Monkey God, is the Indian deity with the biggest heart. Though his face and tail are that of a monkey, the body is human and covered with white hair. He is a symbol of devotion, not only of the heart, but to learning. His qualities of intelligence and inventiveness are said to be boundless, and no challenge in the world too difficult for him to handle. Employed as a symbol, Hanuman would inspire a person to use their power in the service of the greater good... more
Harley Davidson - Biker Tattoos - When we think of tattoos, often times one of our first associations is with bikers and motorcycles, and the motorcycle that we think of first is usually the legendary Harley-Davidson. 'Harley Davidson' -- America's symbol of the road. And for many a potent symbol of freedom. No less so than some peoples consideration of a tattoo as an expression of personal freedom. It's no accident that tattoos and bikers are... more
Harp Tattoos - The Harp has long been a symbol associated with Ireland and all things Irish and is a popular tattoo design, but many people are unfamiliar with the origins of the symbol. The 'Emerald Isle' flies a flag of green, representing the ancient Gaelic tradition. Against this background sits the gold Harp, a symbol with origins going back to Ireland's mythic past. This came to be known as the 'Green Flag'.... more
Hawk Tattoos - Birds of prey have long been symbols of war and military victory, and even today, 'hawkish' best describes the aggressor in a military or political context. In Hindu mythology, the hawk that precedes the warrior into battle is considered a good omen. In ancient Rome and Greece, the Gods of War, Ares and Mars, displayed both the eagle and the hawk as symbols of their power in battle... more
Heart Tattoos - a tattoo design standard. The heart tattoo, shaped like an inverted triangle, and meant to symbolize the pubic triangle, is a universal symbol of the feminine, often used as an expression of romantic love.
Add "Mom" and you have a tattoo icon. The heart is the... more
Hebrew Tattoos - Hebrew is a favourite script for tattoos. The 22 letters of the Hebrew 'alephbet' are elegant, pictorial, and ancient. The large number celebrities sporting them on the red carpet have bolstered the popularity of Hebrew tattoos. Madonna, the Beckams, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are feeling empowered by taking on tattoos written in a script that has such ancient and powerful religious associations.... more
Heron Tattoos - The Heron is an avian tattoo design that is rich in symbolism, its graceful, elongated form featured in numerous myths, tales and legends around the world. We humans have long looked at the Heron and seen aspects of ourselves reflected in this statuesque bird and its patterns of behavior... more
Hibiscus Flower Tattoos - The red hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian women. A single flower is tucked behind the ear. Which ear is used indicates the wearer's availability for marriage. When giving the gift of Hibiscus flowers, it is believed to stand for "seizing the opportunity". It stands for delicate beauty due to.... more
Hieroglyph Tattoos - Hieroglyphs are the symbols used to write the ancient Egyptian language. Based on simple pictures of well-known objects, this writing system is one of the oldest in the world. The Egyptians called them 'god's words'. The Greeks, upon first seeing this colourful pictorial script in religious settings, called it hiera grammata (the sacred letters), or hieroglyphica (the sacred carved letters). .... more
Hindu Tattoos - The word 'Hindu' originally meant 'those who live on the other side of the Indus River', which, in the Sanskrit language was the Sindhu. Of utmost importance to Hindus, then and now, are the world's most ancient scriptures - the Vedas - the 'knowledge of God'. In Hinduism, the one supreme Absolute and divine starting point of all reality is known as 'Brahman'... more
Homeward Bound Tattoo Design - A tattoo of a full-rigged sailing ship, with the words, "Homeward Bound" is one of the most recognizable of all maritime and nautical tattoos.
There is perhaps no tattoo design more associated with sailors and seamen that the tattoo of a full-rigged sailing ship under full sail, it's bow splitting the waves, clouds and seabirds in the background. Most of the sailing ships depicted in these tattoos were Clipper Ships. These tattoos were often very large and took place of pride on a sailor's back or chest, with smaller versions on upper arms and shoulders.
A rather macabre variation of the "Homeward Bound" and "Full-Rigged Ship" tattoos, were the "Sailor's Grave" tattoos... more
Honeysuckle Flower Tattoos - There are about 180 species of honeysuckle, with by far the greatest diversity in China, where over 100 species occur; by comparison, Europe and North America have only about 20 native species each. Widely known species include... more
Horse tattoos - As a tattoo design, the horse spans many millennia and most continents. It is one of the most familiar symbols of early man. The horse, before it was tamed, was one of the staple food items of early hunters. Pictures of horses adorn the cave walls of France and date back over 40,000 years. Even then, we revered the horse for its strength, speed and stamina, to say nothing of its beauty and grace. Horses were one of the first animals to be worshipped and... more
Horse (Chinese Zodiac Symbol)
Check out different horse tattoo designs by some of the world's top tattoo artists and illustrators.
Horseshoe tattoos - One of the principal attributes of tattoos down through the ages has been the belief that they serve as amulets and talismans of protection, that they may ward off evil spirits and that they may act as charms or good luck for the wearer. The horseshoe is perhaps one of the world's most widely known symbols of good luck.
As a tattoo design the horseshoe may stand alone as a symbol of good luck, or be incorporated with other icons associated with good fortune, such as dice or playing cards displayed in winning combinations and four-leaf clovers, among others... more
Hummingbird Symbols - "HUMMINGBIRD: A minor character in American Indian folktale and mythology. The northern Paiute Indians [U.S. Great Basin area] say that Hummingbird once filled his pants full of seeds and started on a journey to see what was beyond the sun. He ate only one seed a day, but had to turn back because his food gave out. He didn't see anything. In eastern Brazil, Hummingbird is the character who hoarded water so that the people had none at all until the... more
Hyacinth Tattoos - The Dutch, or Common Hyacinth of house and garden culture (H. orientalis, native to southwest Asia) was so popular in the 18th century that over 2,000 cultivars were cultivated in the Netherlands, its chief commercial producer. This hyacinth has a single dense spike of fragrant flowers in shades of red, blue, white, orange, pink, violet, or yellow.... more
The Infinity Symbol - This tattoo design is best described as a figure eight on its side, it is used to denote that which is limitless and without boundary or end. The symbol as a tattoo would stand for the state or quality of being infinite. The concept of infinity first appeared as a mathematical conceit and was quickly adopted by... more
Insect Tattoos - Insects are the most diverse group of animals on earth, and there number over 800,000 species of insects. They range in a spectrum that goes from horribly disgusting to breathtakingly beautiful. Insect inspired tattoo designs seem to be worn by unique and unimaginably different crowd.
Iris Tattoos - Next to the ubiquitous rose, the Iris is the most highly symbolized flower. It is the emblem of France, represents valued friendships and is associated with the 25th wedding anniversary. In Greek mythology, the goddess of the rainbow, Iris transported women's souls to the underworld, becoming the flower associated with death. Armed with a valid passport to the dark side, Iris became a messenger of... more
Irish Tattoos - The ancient peoples of the British Isles tended to have great mobility, particularly in the north were trade and commerce and no small amount of competition for lands and power meant there was frequent traffic between what is now Ireland and Scotland. Both Ireland and Scotland bore the brunt of numerous outside invasions, and the indigenous peoples absorbed or were pushed aside by succeeding waves of Celts, Gauls, Romans, Vikings from both Norway and Denmark, Saxons and Normans, who for all intents and purposes were French Vikings.... more
The Iron Cross - This simple yet striking symbol has long been synonymous with old world German courage and triumph. Sometimes mistaken for the Maltese Cross, the Iron Cross is one of the most visually powerful and recognizable military awards of all time.
Islamic Tattoos - The Koran forbids tattooing, depending on how it is translated. "The guilty are recognized by their marks." The debate rages in Islam, just as it does in Christianity. Meanwhile, the practice of marking the skin was not uncommon amongst Muslims who have journeyed to Mecca or Medina. .... more
Ivy, Grape Vines & Vine Tattoos - Vines, Grape Vines and Ivy have long been prominently featured in tattoo designs and symbols, often intertwined with other floral and plant symbols, but often times on their own. Because of their shape and form, vines of all kinds have long been popular with tattoo artists for their ability to be draped, twisted, and coiled on the human body. Like water, smoke and flames, the leaves and tendrils of vines give extraordinary freedom to both the tattoo artist and the tattoo enthusiast to... more Jaguar - This is the largest and most ferocious cat of the Americas, pound for pound more fierce and dangerous than: the tiger, the lion or the leopard. The Jaguar is at the pinnacle of the food chain in the Americas. The Jaguar is fiercely independent and cunning. It is the only large cat that routinely hunts in the water. The Jaguar figures prominently in the mythology of most cultures in South and Central America. It occurs in the art and religion of all pre-Colombian American civilizations. The Jaguar is an extraordinarily ancient and... more Japanese Tattoo Designs - The art of Japanese tattoo has been traced back as far as 5,000 B.C. It is very possible that it existed well before this date, but this is as far back as claims can be backed up with physical proof. Clay figurines that date back to the 5th millennia B.C. have been found with their faces painted or engraved to represent tattoo markings. As far as historians and archaeologists can tell, these tattoos are believed to have held a special religious or magical meaning to their bearers. Kanji is the calligraphy style letter writing method used by the Japanese. It's a wildly popular choice among those seeking Japanese style tattoo designs. By using Kanji, you can easily create and... more Jasmine Tattoo Designs - The Jasmine flower has been renowned and revered for millennia in many cultures because of its evocative and sensual scent. The kings of Afghanistan, Nepal and Persia had Jasmine planted, back in the 1400's. In India the jasmine flower is the Hindu symbol of love, the potent scent representing elegance and grace, sensuality and attachment, the delicate white flower, modesty. Jasmine flowers can be creamy white or butter yellow. In the heat of tropical climates, the jasmine flower often announces its presence by its smell long before it is seen, and is thought be remind one of a lover. more See also: Flower & Plant Tattoo Index Jesus Tattoo Designs - The image of Jesus as a tattoo design is the most "Christian" of all religious tattoos. Jesus is often depicted hanging on the cross. As well many times the tattoo is a close up of his face with a halo (or faint glow) over him and a crown of thorns placed upon his head during the... more Jewish Tattoo Designs - Many Jews still take Leviticus seriously, while others see the prohibition aimed at indelibly marking yourself with symbols associated with some other belief system. In which case, any religion-neutral tattoo would be fair game, along with any of the striking Jewish symbols themselves. Without doubt, many Jewish people get tattoos, and their favorites have long been... more Jolly Roger Originally, French pirates flew their 'jolie rouge' flag - pretty red - when they intended to take no prisoners. No quarter would be given and it would be a fight, quite literally, to the death. It was meant to instill enough fear in a potential prize that when a ship spotted the pirate's 'Jolie Rouge', the ship's Captain and crew would immediately give up their cargo without a fight. When British American pirates began flying the skull and crossbones in the early 18th century, the Anglicized term, 'Jolly Roger', had stuck. Its message and symbolism were direct and to the point - the flag declared ferocity and toughness meant to induce a quick surrender. Give up or... more
Ivy, Grape Vines & Vine Tattoos - Vines, Grape Vines and Ivy have long been prominently featured in tattoo designs and symbols, often intertwined with other floral and plant symbols, but often times on their own. Because of their shape and form, vines of all kinds have long been popular with tattoo artists for their ability to be draped, twisted, and coiled on the human body. Like water, smoke and flames, the leaves and tendrils of vines give extraordinary freedom to both the tattoo artist and the tattoo enthusiast to... more
Jaguar - This is the largest and most ferocious cat of the Americas, pound for pound more fierce and dangerous than: the tiger, the lion or the leopard. The Jaguar is at the pinnacle of the food chain in the Americas. The Jaguar is fiercely independent and cunning. It is the only large cat that routinely hunts in the water.
The Jaguar figures prominently in the mythology of most cultures in South and Central America. It occurs in the art and religion of all pre-Colombian American civilizations. The Jaguar is an extraordinarily ancient and... more
Japanese Tattoo Designs - The art of Japanese tattoo has been traced back as far as 5,000 B.C. It is very possible that it existed well before this date, but this is as far back as claims can be backed up with physical proof. Clay figurines that date back to the 5th millennia B.C. have been found with their faces painted or engraved to represent tattoo markings. As far as historians and archaeologists can tell, these tattoos are believed to have held a special religious or magical meaning to their bearers.
Kanji is the calligraphy style letter writing method used by the Japanese. It's a wildly popular choice among those seeking Japanese style tattoo designs. By using Kanji, you can easily create and... more
Jasmine Tattoo Designs - The Jasmine flower has been renowned and revered for millennia in many cultures because of its evocative and sensual scent. The kings of Afghanistan, Nepal and Persia had Jasmine planted, back in the 1400's. In India the jasmine flower is the Hindu symbol of love, the potent scent representing elegance and grace, sensuality and attachment, the delicate white flower, modesty. Jasmine flowers can be creamy white or butter yellow. In the heat of tropical climates, the jasmine flower often announces its presence by its smell long before it is seen, and is thought be remind one of a lover. more
See also: Flower & Plant Tattoo Index
Jesus Tattoo Designs - The image of Jesus as a tattoo design is the most "Christian" of all religious tattoos. Jesus is often depicted hanging on the cross. As well many times the tattoo is a close up of his face with a halo (or faint glow) over him and a crown of thorns placed upon his head during the... more
Jewish Tattoo Designs - Many Jews still take Leviticus seriously, while others see the prohibition aimed at indelibly marking yourself with symbols associated with some other belief system. In which case, any religion-neutral tattoo would be fair game, along with any of the striking Jewish symbols themselves. Without doubt, many Jewish people get tattoos, and their favorites have long been... more
Originally, French pirates flew their 'jolie rouge' flag - pretty red - when they intended to take no prisoners. No quarter would be given and it would be a fight, quite literally, to the death. It was meant to instill enough fear in a potential prize that when a ship spotted the pirate's 'Jolie Rouge', the ship's Captain and crew would immediately give up their cargo without a fight.
When British American pirates began flying the skull and crossbones in the early 18th century, the Anglicized term, 'Jolly Roger', had stuck. Its message and symbolism were direct and to the point - the flag declared ferocity and toughness meant to induce a quick surrender. Give up or... more