Swallows may be considered as very simple and common creatures, but swallow tattoo designs are considered as one of the most attractive and versatile designs in traditional tattoo art. The swallow tattoo design is preferred by both, men and women, which makes it an appealing design option. Additionally, the design can be made unique by incorporating different elements with it, most of which gel with the basic swallow design to create a perfect, new tattoo design. The amazing aesthetic value of the tattoo, coupled with rich symbolism, makes swallow design one of the most popular options in contemporary as well as traditional tattoo art.
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Symbolic Meaning of Swallow Tattoos
Swallows are tiny creatures, which carry big symbolic meanings, associated with god things like health, riches, long distance travel and loyalty.
In ancient times, when there were no complex navigation tools, sailors used to make the estimate of proximity of land with the help of these little birds. They were taken as a symbol of safe homecoming by the sailors. There is a legend related to the origin of swallow tattoos, which started on a ship called the Swallow, on which a mutiny took place. The seven mutineer sailors on the ship had a swallow tattoo inked on their chests as a mark of identification. Later, the tattoo became a mark of experience of sailors and was popularized in this profession, with sailors being tattooed with an increasing number of swallow tattoos as their experience on the sea increased.
Another notion about swallow tattoos and sailors is that in case a sailor drowned in the sea, the swallow would carry the departed soul to the heaven. In this way, the swallow tattoo bears a great deal of symbolic significance for sailors.
Swallows also stand for loyalty and love as they stay with the same mate for a lifetime. Swallows are considered as bringers of good luck by some cultures, while they are regarded as a bad omen in others. Some regard a swallow flying in the house as a sign of bad luck, while other take it as a good luck charm for protection.
Some cultures regard swallow tattoos as a symbol of wealth as seeing one swallow is supposed to bring wealth to the person. Others believe that tow swallows signify freedom. A swallow tattoo featuring two birds is a design inked on people who have come out of the jail and is associated with the term “jail bird”. It is so because the swallow is considered as a free bird, with the liberty to fly wherever it wants too. Some associate the bird with white supremacy, which adds a racial touch to this tattoo.
Swallow tattoos are also considered popular as gang tattoos, while a tattoo showing swallow in the fists indicates that the person is a good fighter.
The swallow tattoo is also linked with overcoming a struggle to achieve something good in life.
Overall, swallow tattoos are symbolically associated with positive meanings like fidelity, loyalty, hope, victory, strength, protection, success and new beginnings. The design is both beautiful and meaningful, which is the reason of its great popularity.
Popular Swallow Tattoo Designs
There is a great variety in swallow tattoo designs, with different elements included in the design to give it diverse meanings. The symbolic meaning of the swallow tattoo can be interpreted by looking at the way the swallow is featured in it. Here are some popular swallow tattoo designs:
- Flying Swallow – A swallow tattoo in which there is a flying swallow is like a good luck charm and is believed to bring good luck, wealth and success for the bearer.
- Swallow With Flower Tattoo – Another common swallow tattoo design features a swallow holding a flower in its beak, which is a symbolic of the spring, a happy time.
- Pair Of Swallows – A pair of swallows in the tattoo stands for love and loyalty, as swallow is reputed as a faithful bird, having only one mate for life. The two swallow in the tattoo are soul mates and can be dedicated to a lover, spouse, friend or a family member.
- Swallow Tattoos With Cards – Some swallow tattoos are regarded lucky for gamblers. Such tattoos combine swallows with cards, poker chips or rolling dice.
Swallow tattoos inked on men denote power and strength. In traditional tattoo art, a sparrow tattoo on the hand signified that the man was a tough fighter. In addition to these swallow tattoo designs, some other elements which can be featured to create excellent designs are stars, feathers, dreamcatchers, anchors, locks, bows, ribbons, arrows and hearts. Additionally, some names or quotes can be added to swallow tattoos to give them a very personal and special meaning.
Placement of Swallow Tattoos
As already seen, swallow tattoos have made a place in tattoo art because they are charming as well as carry a deep symbolic meaning. They are suitable for both the sexes and can be placed anywhere on the body of the bearer, keeping in consideration the design and size of the tattoo. They can be done in small, medium and large size, which makes them quite versatile. For larger tattoos, they are best featured on areas like side, chest, back, shoulder, thigh, hip and arm, while the smaller sizes featuring cute little swallows are perfect for wrist, ankle, back of the neck and fingers. When a design is chosen for a swallow tattoo, one needs to bear in mind that it is going to carry a meaning and also that it would be something permanent, which will stay with the bearer for a lifetime. This is the reason why the tattoo design needs to be chosen after due consideration.
Celebrities with Swallow Tattoos
Though swallow tattoos abound in aesthetic value as well as symbolic meaning, there has been great increase in their popularity in the recent times, as they have been endorsed by several global celebrities. Some big names which have been spotted with sparrow tattoos include Johnny Depp, Robbie Williams, Rachel Perry, Mark McGrath, Marianne Faithfull, Marc Almond and Christina Applegate.