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Tattoo.com’s Official Tattoo Symbols Guide

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This is a simple, yet comprehensive, guide for the tattoo enthusiast to look at some of the symbolic meanings behind many of the most common tattoo designs. It can also be a great opportunity for one to find different symbols and ideas they can incorporate into their own ink.
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  • Added: April, 21st 2011
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Tattoo.coms Official Tattoo Symbols Guide Tattoo.com

This is a simple, yet comprehensive, guide for the tattoo enthusiast to look
at some of the symbolic meanings behind many of the most common tattoo
designs. It can also be a great opportunity for one to find different symbols
and ideas they can incorporate into their own ink.
Anamorphosis Tattoos
Anamorphosis is an artistic technique that creates an
optical illusion. It allows the artist to conceal images
or messages and was made famous in the
Renaissance period by artists like Da Vinci. When
the observer shifts their position then a hidden
aspect of the image can be seen. Only the most
skilled artists can come up with such intricate and
creative designs but when done correctly they are
breathtaking. It can allow a tattoo enthusiast to
embed a secret message to the world that can only be seen by those who
have a keen eye.
Anarchy Tattoos
Usually decorated with a capital “A” wrapped around with an “O”; “A” is for
anarchy and “O” is for order. When they are combined they
mean “Anarchy is Order”. Most of the people who get this type
of tattoo see themselves as outliers of the acceptable society
and do not adhere to the social norms. The anarchy symbol
has been used by many different types of groups over the
years including punks and members of the gay community.
Today many people who wear the anarchy tattoo oppose
globalization and the capitalist market and instead promote a
more environmentally friendly lifestyle.


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The Anchor Tattoo
The anchor tattoo is very symbolic and his a rich history behind it. The
ancient Romans believed the anchor was what secured the
ship from being consumed by the ocean. In the early 1900’s
American sailors would come back home and get an anchor
as a rite of passage. Many people apply this to their life
spiritually by looking to the anchor as a symbol of stability.
The stormy motif is used to represent the stormy seas of life
but that there is also something to help hold everything in place.
Anemone Flower Tattoos
Anemone flowers are a symbol of dying hope. In Hebrew it
is known as the “Kalanit” and is one of the most well-known
flowers in Israel. They were referred to as “the flower of the
wind” because it was thought that the wind enabled it to
bloom. The anemone flower is usually associated with sleep
and death and was used in both World War I and World War
II to symbolize the fallen soldiers. These flowers symbolize
the cycle of life and death, procreation, and rebirth.

Angel Tattoos
Angel tattoos are one of the most common and
religious icons one can get. There are so many types
of angels that one can choose to depict an image of
love with cherubs or even an image of war and
salvation with the Archangels. Angels are believed to
be the anthropomorphic winged messengers of God.
Angels are mentioned in the Jewish, Christian, and
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Muslim faiths and have various depictions. Many symbols associated with
the angels are halos, trumpets, swords, and large wings. Angel tattoos do
not only symbolize a religious affiliation or a message of faith, but they also
convey a message of guidance and protection. As a tattoo it can be a very
powerful centerpiece.
Ankh Tattoos
Ankhs were an important religious symbol in Ancient Egyptian
society and meant “life”. The Ankh was a hybrid of two
symbols; the cross and the circle. Many people theorize that it
is a depiction of the sunrise or sunset. Others claim that it is a
symbol of fertility that combines an image of the phallus and
the womb to represent an ongoing cycle. Regardless, it is a
phenomenal design for a tattoo that can be combined with
other religious symbols or motifs that can range from a small
arm tattoo to a huge back piece.

Ankle Tattoos
Ankle tattoos are most commonly associated
with women due to its delicate and sexy nature.
Most ankle tattoo designs are simple motifs or
deigns like flowers and butterflies. It is also
assumed that an ankle piece will be smaller in
size. Ankle tattoos can be easily flaunted or
easily concealed for any purpose. Something to
consider is that it will be a relatively painful
process but because of its small size it will be
less expensive. Something to note is that you should not get an ankle
tattoo because it is cheaper but rather because you think it is sexy and
exciting; ink that is well invested in is well worth it for health safety and
personal satisfaction.
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Aquarius Tattoos
Aquarius is a sign that is part of the Western
astrological system. Aquarius is associated with air and
is also one of the four fixed signs along Scorpio, Leo,
and Taurus. People born in the Aquarius period are
associated with thought, perspective, and
communication. The main depictions of Aquarius are
two wave-like lines parallel to each other and someone
dumping out water from a jug.

Aries Tattoos
Aries is an astrological sign from March 21 to April
19. Aries iconography is usually shown as the ram
because of the Greek myth of the ram which carried
Athamas’s son to escape their evil stepmother.
Aries is closely associated with fire and is one of
the 4 Cardinal signs. Each astrological sign is
represented as a body part and the ram represents
the face and head.
Armband Tattoos
Armband tattoos are one of the most common
and popular design concepts around. CEO’s,
managers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and
everyone in between has one of these tattoos.
This makes a great first tattoo because it is
simple, not too detailed, and conservative. It
can be easily concealed and it is not too
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graphic. Since there are so many types of designs and patterns out there it
is very easy to take what may seem like a generic tattoo and make it
unique and personalized. There are tribal designs, Celtic knots, Hawaiian
patterns and more. Mythical animals like dragons are also commonly used
for armband tattoos.
Barcode Tattoos
Barcodes were developed in the 1950’s to maximize efficiency in different
industries. Barcode tattoos are an ironical symbol that warns society that if
they do not stop being followers instead of
independent thinkers then they too will be
like a product to the industrial world. People
that get barcode tattoos usually feel that
when people conform to modern trends they
lose their uniqueness and individuality which
goes against human nature. It is worn by
many celebrities and musicians and has
recently been popular on the back of one’s neck.
Bettie Page Tattoos
Bettie Page tattoos and iconography have
developed a cult following after “the girl with
the perfect figure” was titled the “Miss Pin-Up
Girl of the World”. Most of Page’s pictures
have a sexy combination of sweet and
naughty. With her long legs, sexy hips, dark
hair, and sultry eyes she could allure any man
and almost any woman. She was shy and
possessed a “girl next door” quality and a
gentle femininity that inspired generations of
young women. She represents the freedom of
the woman to do what she wants when she
wants to and is not scared to be a little sexy all the time.
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Bird Tattoos
Birds are considered to be very symbolic in multiple cultures around the
world. Americans associate their liberty with the mighty eagle and the
Japanese with the phoenix. Birds have been
given symbols that represent the whole
schema of human emotion. The dove
represents peace between mankind while
the raven and crow depict mischievous yet
clever creatures. Most importantly, birds
have always fascinated man not only
because of their grace and beautiful feathers
but because they can fly. Birds can
represent the freedom of a person’s soul or
even the act of freeing something and letting time take its course. There
are so many designs that can be used with different birds that it is almost
impossible to list. Certain birds represent nautical wisdom while others
represent fertility. Whatever the meaning behind a tattoo, a beautiful bird
can only enhance the symbolic depth.
Buddha Tattoos
Buddha tattoos come in many forms and
depictions. They are based on the story of
Siddhartha Guatama who was born a prince but
then left to become an ascetic. After discovering
his 4 noble truths he founded the principles of
Buddhism and preached to the world what he
believed were the correct ways of attaining
ultimate truth and knowledge. One of the basic
principles of Buddhism is the detachment of the
material world. Many Buddha tattoos depict him
meditating on a lotus flower or under a tree. It is one of the best ways to
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show ones relationship to the detaching of the material self and the search
for a more meaningful life.
Butterfly Tattoos
Butterfly tattoos are one of the
most popular and most feminine
tattoos out there today. Its
gentle wings and graceful
beauty have associated the
butterfly with the form of the
woman. All over the world
different cultures have given
symbolic meaning to the
graceful butterfly. In some
areas they represented the
turbulence and instability of life because the butterfly goes from flower to
flower on a lifelong search for nectar and pollen. In Japan the butterfly is
regarded as a symbol of emerging grace and is very popular among young
girls who are coming of age. Butterflies are continuously regarded as
mysterious in nature and will continue to inspire beautiful tattoos because
of their diversity and natural beauty. It’s the perfect tattoo for a girl’s lower
back, shoulder, or upper back.
Cancer Tattoo
Cancer is an astrological sign
that falls between June 21 and
July 22 in the western zodiac.
Cancers are associated with
water and is considered as one
of the four cardinal signs. It is
hypothesized that it takes the
form of the crab based on the
mythological creature,
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Lernaean Hydra, that Heracles destroyed. The cancer sign is usually a “69”
or the shape of a crab. It can be a great tattoo almost anywhere on the
body from something small on the wrist or ankle to something much more
elaborate. The “69” and the crab can be combined to create a variety of
designs that show off ones zodiac sign in a classy and sexy manner.
Capricorn Tattoos
Capricorn is a sign in the western zodiac that falls between December 22nd
and January 20th. It is based off of the
constellation Capricornus and begins on the
eve of the winter solstice. Capricorns are
associated with the earth and the people born
under the sign are thought to be conservative
and practical. The Capricorn sign is symbolized
through the image of a goat.

Celtic Cross Tattoos
For many people of Irish, Scottish, and Walsh
descent the Celtic cross may more symbolic of one’s
heritage then ones faith. Either way the complex
design of the Celtic cross with intricate knots and
weaves makes it an attractive tattoo for almost
anyone. The endless knots represent the endless and
eternal cycle of life. The combination of the Celtic
patterns and the Christian symbol of faith make a
beautiful symbolic collision. The Christian cross
represents the 4 corners of the earth and the 4
elements while the circle surrounding the cross is a symbol for eternal life.
This is a great first tattoo and can incorporate many other themes and
designs taken from tribal and other religious influences.

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Celtic Knot Tattoos
Celtic knot designs may seem decorative and
appealing to the eye but are embedded with a
rich history and deep symbolism. Often times
they are comprised of a series of complex
interwoven lines that make up mazes, spirals,
and other patterns. Most of the Celtic designs
seen today were adapted from the Irish book of
Kells which displayed many of the rudimentary
patterns that tattoo artists build off of today.
The ideology behind Celtic knots is not only to
represent eternal life and resurrection but also
to represent the complexity of nature. Many Celtic knots are associated
with the continuous changing of the seasons and the process of life and
death. This style of tattooing is very versatile and can be combined with
religious references or other designs or patterns. Something that is very
beneficial about Celtic knot tattoos is that they are a great first time tattoo,
can be virtually any size on any body part, and can range from a simple
piece to an armband like design.


Cherry Tattoos
Cherry tattoos are one of the most adorable and
sexiest tattoos a girl can get. Cherry tattoos are often
associated with the feminine form because of their
sexual allure and comparison to sex. Cherries are
one of the oldest fruits to be cultivated and mass
produced dating back to the Ancient Egyptians. The
cherry is seen by most culture as a symbol of fertility.
When the cherry is ripe and juicy its sweet juices are compared to the first
taste of love. When one bites into a cherry it also gives the appearance of
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blood which is where the famous phrase “popping a cherry” may have
emerged in reference to a females’ first sexual experience. When the
cherry is ripening on the tree it represents purity and chastity but once it is
plucked it symbolizes the loss of innocence and the awakening of a sexual
appetite. This lustful and passionate design can be put as a sleek and sexy
tattoo on the hip or the ankle or as part of a cherry blossom tree on ones
back or shoulder. Either way this is one of the sexiest tattoos a girl can get.

Comedy Tragedy Mask Tattoos
The famous comedy/tragedy mask is recognizable to
virtually anyone. They are two faces that represent
polar opposites; one face exploding with mirth and
happiness and the other pours out sorrow and
sadness. The masks emerged during the days of
Ancient Greece to convey emotions to the crowd.
Many people in live theater have been known to get
this mask. It is a tattoo that expresses ones’ ability to
feel and develop a wide range of emotions implying
that the person has an eclectic and dynamic
personality. Joy and sorrow are known as two of the
most common emotions that anyone can empathize
with. The faces on the mask are usually exaggerated
and contorted to emphasize the conveyed emotions. This is a beautiful
tattoo for anyone who has a diverse personality and is a thespian. This
theme can also be altered to include different types of faces and figures
from different characters and icons in pop culture.



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