8 Popular Tattoos and Their Meanings

May 27, 2017

Tattoos are an art form that is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world. The art of inking the skin has been around for centuries, but the meaning and designs have evolved alongside culture.

Now, people are incorporating multiple elements into their unique designs. Whether you have a couple of tattoos or are looking to get inked, perhaps it is time you found out the meaning behind the most popular tattoo designs.

1 Chinese characters

Those who choose to have their skin marked with Chinese characters hopefully know the meaning of the character. There are more frequently used symbols for the elements (fire, water, earth, and air), or words like “death,” “life,” “happiness,” and “warrior.” Sometimes, people will even choose the Chinese character for their Chinese Zodiac animal, like “dragon” or “horse.”

2 Butterflies

The delicate butterfly is a design preferred by women. Butterflies generally symbolize change and the transition of time. Many people who feel that they were once a caterpillar who endured a struggle and came out transformed and much more beautiful will opt for a butterfly.

Another symbol would be impermanence and the need to continue forward despite struggles. You may see simple butterfly designs or extremely vivid examples, but either way, the butterfly will always be a sign of transformative beauty.

3 Eye of Ra

Also known as the “Eye of Horus,” or more formerly as “wedjat” or “utchat.” The eye is an ancient symbol that carries with it the meaning of protection, royalty, and good health. Horus was the Egyptian god of the sun and one of the oldest deities in the Egyptian pantheon. The sun was thought of by the Egyptians as an “all-seeing eye.” In other words, the wedjat could be a window to the soul. The spiral on the end of the eye also represents an expansion of consciousness.

4 Celtic symbols

There are many Celtic symbols like birds, crosses, the triquetra, knots, and each has its own unique meaning. For brevity, the most utilized Celtic designs include the triquetra or the knot. These two have very powerful meanings, such as power, destiny, wisdom, endurance, leadership, and strength. Knots, depending on whether they are round or square, can mean a journey throughout the world or deeper understanding of oneself.

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5 Maori

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and their body art, or tattoos, are called Moko. Most Maori tattoos were facial tattoos, because to their culture, the head is the most important part of the body. Depending on where the tattoo is inscribed, it has meanings about social standing, the number of marriages you have had, and so on.

Typical designs include the koru (spiral), for new beginnings and harmony; the hei matau (fish hook) for determination and good health; the manaia or spiritual guardian; and various line patterns representing fish scales and teeth.

6 Japanese Koi fish

In Japanese culture, the koi is a fish who became a dragon. The color of the koi fish, direction, and other elements have symbolic meaning. A koi fish that is swimming upstream is thought to be undergoing current hardships, while downstream means you have succeed or you lack the strength to move forward.

Other symbolic meanings include the completion of a transformation, power, independence, masculinity, friendship, and prosperity. Black koi signify overcoming an obstacle. Red koi represent love – a very intense, passionate love. Meanwhile, blue koi are masculine and emanate tranquility. Yellow or golden koi are for wealth and fortune.

7 Flowers

There are dozens of glorious nature-based tattoos out there, including abstract and finely detailed tattoos of flowers. You might see people sporting cherry blossoms, orchids, lilies, sakura, roses, and more. Anyone who feels a strong connection to the outdoors will usually opt for a more floral pattern, especially women. Flowers, in general, symbolize the cycle of life and death, or even rebirth; however, specific flowers all have their own unique meaning, like a rose for passion.

8 Music notes

A popular tattoo amongst audiophiles and musicians alike. To ink your skin with music notation means that you have a deep passion for sound. Generally, music notes are often paired with something else, like a treble clef, a measure, other notes, instruments, or even elements from nature to complete the picture. Music notes are pretty flexible with how they can be used, but in short, it is a clear sign the person loves music.

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Aren’t these tattoos awesome? You are probably up to get a tat or two yourself. Or maybe, you merely wanted to find out why your friend has an eye of Ra on their shoulder. Either way, you have to agree that tattoos can be as enthralling and eyebrow-raising as the finest works of art. Have a tattoo story? Share it with us!