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A tattoo is something that you’ll have forever, so you’ll want to make it unique and personal. Apart from aesthetic appeal, the symbolism of tattoos is an important factor that influences most people’s choices. Whether you’re a minimalist, or someone who likes to make a bold statement, we’ve rounded up the most meaningful tattoos that will add meaning to your life.
Clover is popular as a 3-leaf plant, that signifies faith, love and hope, and is associated with St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity. When you add in a fourth leaf, it signifies luck. There are no clover plants that naturally produce four leaves—they’re a result of a genetic mutation, making them rare and hard to find. There are many different stories on why people consider them lucky, but it’s thought that they represent love, faith, hope and luck.
Bow and Arrow Tattoo
Apart from strength and power, a bow and arrow tattoo represents your purpose and direction in life. It can be a source of inspiration during hardships and challenges. After all, an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward, so those setbacks are really the times we grow the most, preparing us for greater things ahead.
In Native American culture, this talisman is hung over the cradles and beds of babies, in hopes of protecting them from nightmares. It’s said that a dreamcatcher will trap all the bad dreams of the sleeper while allowing good dreams to come naturally. This legend originated from the Ojibway tribe or the Chippewa Indians of the Plains, but the Lakota and other tribes also have their own version of dreamcatcher mythology.
Originally, the number of points on the design represented different meanings such as the phases of the moon, the seven prophecies of the grandfathers and stars. Nowadays, a dreamcatcher tattoo is believed to protect the wearer from anything negative. You can make the design more personal by changing up the webbing, hoop shape, beads and feathers.
Skeleton Key Tattoo
The type of key that opens many different locks, a skeleton key is most recognized for its rounded head, long thin body and hollowed lower section. In general, the top of the design is intricate and decorative, suggesting that they’re the keys to private manors and treasure chests.
Our fascination with these keys lies far beyond their practical use. Apart from its mysterious and antiquated appeal, a skeleton key tattoo will remind you that there are lots of doors and opportunities in life to be unlocked. They can also symbolize the key to one’s heart.
The infinity tattoo is quite simple and can easily be adapted to suit any size. While there are many ways to depict the infinity symbol, the most common is as a sideways figure 8 shape. This tattoo symbolizes eternity, infinity, everlasting bonds and timelessness.
While you can choose any planet in the solar system, Saturn is no doubt the most desirable for a tattoo. From far away, it’s admired for its spectacular rings and 82 moons. When thinking of your tattoo design, you can also add its largest moon Titan, which is also the second largest moon in our solar system.
The planet is named after the Roman god of agriculture and wealth, equivalent to the Greek deity of time, Cronus. There are many meanings associated with Saturn including maturity, change, responsibility, discipline and power. If you’re facing challenges in life, a Saturn tattoo can inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
Milky Way Galaxy Tattoo
A Milky Way galaxy tattoo will let you have those planets and stars that you once dreamed of having when you were a kid. In Greek mythology, it’s said that the galaxy formed when the goddess Hera accidently sprayed milk from her breasts across the sky. In recent years, astronomers have found an infinity symbol at the center of the galaxy, associating it with infinity and timelessness.
Nautical Star Tattoo
Most recognized for its five points and alternating light and dark shades, the nautical star is associated with sailors, the military and marine. Throughout history, sailors depended upon the sky for navigation through rough seas, and the North Star often guided them on their way back home. The tattoo can mean different things to different people, but it generally represents guidance and protection.
Tree of Life Tattoo
A symbol that holds great significance in different cultures and religions, the tree of life is commonly depicted with spreading roots and branches. There are several meanings associated with it, including growth, strength, rebirth, peace and interconnectedness. A tree of life tattoo can be a great inspiration for remaining strong and upright despite the trials and hardships you face.
Adored for its horse-like head and curled tail, the seahorse is truly unique. It’s said that the females dance with the males every morning, and they’re monogamous creatures that mate for life. Another interesting fact about them is that the seahorse males carry out the pregnancy! If you want to show your love, loyalty and commitment to your partner, a seahorse tattoo is a perfect choice.
Commonly referred to as the “and” symbol, the ampersand can mean a lot of things in the tattoo world. Generally, it’s interpreted as a symbol of union, continuation and togetherness. It also shows the attachment of the wearer to the things that are important for her whether it’s a person, a place, or a concept. It also has great significance in friendship, romantic relationships and marriage.
Card Suit Symbol Tattoo
Back in the day, the suit of cards—diamonds (♦), spades (♠), clubs (♣) and hearts (♥)—represented the four classes of medieval society. Historians suggest that the diamonds represented the merchants, while the spades stood for the military or the nobility. The clubs stood for the peasants and the hearts for the clergy.
Nowadays, each suit and card has gained its own meanings. The queen of hearts is thought to symbolize survival and determination, while the ace of spades represents achievement and leadership. Some couples would choose to get matching king and queen tattoos to show their commitment for each other. If you want something that will symbolize victory or luck, think of a royal flush tattoo.
Long associated with the French crown and royalty, the fleur-de-lis is actually a stylized lily flower. Eventually, it came to reference some beliefs in Christianity, from the Holy Trinity to Virgin Mary. It’s said that the emblem was found on the seals of cathedral chapters. In some contexts, it can also be associated with purity and life. A fleur-de-lis tattoo is an excellent way to show your spiritual side. But it can also be sported without any spiritual connotations, focusing instead on the beauty of the design.
Mermaids have long been a subject of legends, mythologies and beauty. Surprisingly, they have lots of symbolism that make them ideal for a tattoo. These mythical creatures are known for their long wavy tresses, beautiful fish-tail bodies and pretty faces. It’s said that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, admired mermaids, associating them with feminine beauty.
Recognized for its winding spiral design, the unalome is a spiritual symbol that represents life’s path toward enlightenment. In Buddhism, it’s regarded as the representation of a personal and spiritual journey. It’s said that the spiral design symbolizes the struggles in life, while the straight line represents harmony. Unalome designs are typically topped off with a lotus flower, which is also a sacred motif in in Buddhist faith.
Throughout history, compasses have helped people to find the right direction. The compass tattoo first became popular among sailors and fishermen, as they believed it would bring them good fortune and guide them on their journey. Nowadays, a compass tattoo can serve as a great reminder to stay true to your core values, while guiding you on your life’s journey.
These tattoos are popular for world travelers, reflecting their love for adventure. Some designs feature the traditional compass, while others break it down to its bare elements like arrows pointing in four directions. You may also incorporate a map into your compass tattoo to represent your home or your destination.
Flowers are full of symbolism and their appeal never dies. Roses are the most common in tattoo art, but you can always pick your favorite bloom. If you want to go for a colorful flower tattoo, think of iris as each color carries its own meaning. For instance, blue irises represent hope and faith, while their yellow counterparts symbolize passion.
You can also think of sunflowers that represent loyalty and devotion since they follow the sun. They’re also the symbol of peace, hope, ambition and power. On the other hand, daffodils are associated with beauty, truth, honesty and new beginnings. Some other options include daisies, peonies, jasmine, anemone and tulips that are meaningful in the language of flowers. To learn more about flowers and their symbolism, check out our guide to flowers here.
Cute Puppy Tattoo
Dogs are a man’s (and woman’s) best friend, so it’s not a surprise that you would want an artistic tattoo of your pet. Most symbolism of dogs revolve around loyalty, devotion and protection, but each breed has its unique characteristics. For instance, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bichon Frise and Shih Tzu are associated with romance, while Labradors symbolize unconditional acceptance.
Paw Prints Tattoo
If you want something subtler, a paw print tattoo is great too. Apart from being a reminder of your pet, it can also inspire you to keep moving forward in life. A dog paw is the most common design, but you can also think of a lion’s paw that represents power and strength. There’s also a tiger paw, leopard paw, or boar paw. If you have a spirit animal that you feel a very strong connection with and can bring out the best in you, go for their prints.
Rainbow Line Tattoo
The rainbow flag has been associated with the LGBTQ+ community, but a rainbow line tattoo can have several meanings. In many cultures, rainbows are regarded as a symbol of hope. Apart from adding a dose of color into your life, it can also represent happiness, friendship and peace. In the darkest of times, it can give you hope and remind you that the best is yet to come.
If you’re looking for something quirky and playful, a pineapple tattoo can be a unique choice. In some cultures, it’s regarded as a symbol of warmth and hospitality. You can opt for a realistic pineapple design, a cartoon-like art, or a minimalist tattoo. It simply says that you’re tough on the outside, but sweet on the inside.
If you want to add a little bit of magic and mystery into your life, think of unicorn tattoos. The mythical creature has been the subject of books and films for centuries, and it’s thought to represent femininity, innocence and chastity. There are endless ways to make your body art pop, from glammed up designs to colorful and realistic tattoos.
Yin Yang Tattoo
In Chinese culture, this symbol represents balance and duality. The philosophy says that the universe is composed of many different opposing forces that complement each other. The Yin is associated with everything dark, negative and hard, while the Yang is associated with everything light, positive and soft. Even if they seem like complete opposites, it matters that each side has a little bit of the other in it.
When there’s an imbalance between the two, catastrophe occurs. In Chinese medicine, it’s thought that someone must balance the yin and yang forces within their body in order to be healthy. A yin yang tattoo will serve as a reminder to keep the harmony in all aspects in your life—and see both the good and bad in everything.
Highly represented in ballets and operas, the swan has become a symbol of romance, beauty and grace. Thanks to works like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet, which depicts the love story of Prince Siegfried and the swan princess Odette, swans are ever popular as romantic symbols.
When swans make love, they intertwine their neck, which makes them the symbolic birds for romantic gestures. A swan tattoo can be a romantic way to show your commitment to your partner.
They also live up to their reputation of being very beautiful birds, reminding you of your inner beauty. More than that, the bird’s white plumage associated it with purity and grace. However, there’s also a black swan that’s thought to symbolize the opposite of what the white swan represents. Some even believe that black swans are bad luck. We think they’re gorgeous and unique though.
Inspiring Quote Tattoo
If you want something straightforward, an inspiring quote tattoo is perfect for you. It can be words of wisdom or a line from your favorite film. It can also be a motivational message that will keep you going in life and inspire you to reach your dreams. After all, words have power, and they can change our perspectives—and lives change for the better.
Lightning Bolt Tattoo
In Greek mythology, the lightning bolt is said to be the most powerful weapon in the Heavens and on the Earth. Since it’s strongly associated with Zeus—the Olympian god of the sky and the king of all other gods—it’s thought to represent power, strength and intelligence. It’s a perfect tattoo for ladies who want something small yet impactful.
Getting a tattoo is a commitment you make for life, so wear something that speaks to you personally. It can be a symbolic representation of a memory, a moment in time, or your life’s journey. With these inspirations, you’ll be able to show the world who you really are.