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Swallow Tattoo Meanings & Ideas

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The Meanings of Swallow Tattoos

What Does This Tattoo Mean?
All around the world people recognize these amazing birds that can be linked to many things. Health, wealth, even loyalty are the meanings hidden behind swallow tattoos. The rich symbolism also includes representation of traveling over great distances.
Today, they are popular along with other bird motives or retro designs (nautical star tattoo being one example). These designs are often complemented by flowers, stars or banners that contain a personal text.


 Ideas and Meanings

Swallow Tattoo Meanings Swallow Tattoo Ideasdiving swallow color tattoo open wings swallow tattoo blue and yellow swallow tattoo

Swallow tattoos have a strong connection with to the life of sailors. In the past, seafaring was a very dangerous calling and any sailor that could show one or even two tattoos depicting this bird was considered strong, reliable and experienced. They also had a different function. People used to believe that if a sailor drowned, these birds would help deliver his soul from the depths of the ocean up to the heavens. Yet another symbolism is based on a very logical assumption – the sight of them usually meant the proximity of land. It meant hope for a safe return home.

There are even more reasons why sailors got these tattoos:
Someone who had sailed all the 7 seas would deserve a swallow tattoo and so would anyone who had sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa and South America (the horns). If a sailor crossed the equator he could get the tattoo, and another one on the way back.

Some Tattoo Ideas

 sad swallow tattoo blue diving swallow tattoo happy swallow tattoo

Every year, swallows come back home from any place on Earth. The Californian Mission San Juan Capistrano celebrates this phenomenon every time. The amazing display of such a great number of these small birds as they descend over the mission leaves any spectator at awe. The migration of swallows and their annual return makes for a great symbol of loyalty and pride.

swallow artistic tattoo swallow tattoo art diving swallow tattoo

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Soul mates often get swallow tattoos because these birds only mate with one partner and they stay loyal to him all their life. This can easily be used as a representation of one’s love for their family or partner, their fidelity.
For the ancient Greeks, swallows were connected with the everlasting stars and also with the souls of the dead. The legend has it that there are instructions on how to transform this bird into something that the gods liked to do.

swallow flowers tattoo pair of swallows with rose tattoo swallow banner tattoo

In Australia or Great Britain, anyone who has these birds tattooed on the back of their hands is believed to become stronger and faster when in a fight.

 pair of swallows tattoo 2 swallows banner tattoo

Different cultures around the world have even more symbolisms connected with swallows. When people return home after a complicated journey, when they have suffered in their life and especially when they are victorious, people get swallow tattoos. Other reasons and meanings are respect for something or someone, luck, happiness, independence or change.

More Ideas

 swallow and flowers tattoo swallow rose tattoo swallow tattoo with stars swallow tattoo art

There is a strong connection between these birds and music, especially rock and roll. Passion for music, respect and overall appreciation can be expressed with a swallow tattoo. Just like the when symbolizing loyalty and longing for home, this tattoo can also express how music can always make you feel at home.

Artistic Swallow Tattoo Simple Swallow Tattoo Flying Swallow Tattoo

For the Egyptians, this bird was the declaration of the beginning of new love – a symbol used in poetry. Generally, it can express any new beginning and any hope for change or return home. It is great for expressing a free spirit, a person who loves travelling but always returns home.

Swallow with  CherriesTattoo Blue Purple Swallow Tattoo

Retro tattoos, including swallow designs, are popular again mainly in certain circles (the rockabilly scene for instance). Especially girls love this design combined with cherry tattoos or the nautical star design. These tattoos were very popular during the period when rockabilly was in its prime. Sailor Jerry was a tattoo artist who worked in Chinatown in Honolulu. He and his student Ed Hardy are both widely known for their traditional tattoo styles.

Swallow in clouds Tattoo Swallow in sun Tattoo Flying Swallow Tattoo

The swallow isn’t only popular because of its symbolisms, its shape and the colors are very appealing as well. The combination of blue, white and red along with the sleek shape of the tattoo make for a very elegant design. Very often people choose this aviary design combined with a flower, especially a rose, best when the bird is carrying it in its beak.

  Tribal Color Swallow Tattoo Swallow Tattoo with banner Swallow Tattoo Banner and Roses 

Just like with any other tattoo design, placement on the body is crucial for its overall effect. For a large sized version the best option is the back. This is a great place because there is enough space to include a number of combinations in the design – nautical stars, banners or hearts. Girls often prefer to place the tattoo on their shoulders or upper arms. Another popular place is close to the collarbone or below it. Women also like to have a smaller swallow tattooed on their feet, lower back, hips or thighs for a more feminine look.

The varied symbolism behind swallow tattoos is very inspirational. Their popularity has been rising ever since they evolved in different cultures and among sailors. All the diverse meanings can be personalized and can make for a very intimate design. The flexibility of this tattoo makes it easily adjustable for people of all genders, ages or races. This is a timeless motive that will keep its value for the rest of your life. These bird tattoos are personal and elegant, which makes them a great decoration and a unique addition to anyone’s look.

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Swallow Tattoo

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