Tattoos have been around for centuries, in many different shapes and sizes. But it’s a specific set of symbolic tattoos from the past that played such an important role, that they remain popular to this day. The vintage trend that has been going on for years now in the fashion world also plays a major role here. If you like said vintage trend and would you also like a tattoo that fits that style, then make sure to pick the one that’s right for you. The symbolic meaning of some of the most common vintage tattoos can be found right below.
Maritime tattoos are of course very popular with sailors, but they also found their way to the masses because of their deep symbolic value. The tattoos used to symbolize a certain phase in the life of the sailor, such as a memory of a place where he once visited. They also used to function as talismans against bad luck. We’ve listed a couple of types of maritime tattoos down below.
1. The swallow tattoo
The swallow tattoo has many different meanings. The first meaning would be indicating that the sailor wearing the tattoo, has sailed for 5000 nautical miles (9.260 km), a milestone not every sailor managed to reach. It’s a type of status symbol, which is still in use today. The swallow is also linked to the idea of “returning”. Returning to the mainland and loved ones. Not just because swallows return to where they were born every year, no matter how far away they are, but also because people used to believe that when a sailor died at sea, his soul would be brought back by birds. The swallow also happened to be a symbol of good fortune. If a sailor would spot swallows, for instance during a storm, he would know that the ship had almost reached land.
2. The anchor tattoo
The anchor is of vital importance to any sailor. It symbolizes stability and peace. These tattoos are often combined with the name of a loved one, to symbolize a “safe harbor”. Anchor tattoos are very popular with couples that shares a passion for the sea. They often have the exact same tattoo, in order to show that they are forever linked together, even when one of them is out at sea. In the past, the anchor tattoo also symbolized the sailor having crossed the equator or traversed the Atlantic ocean. It was used to show the sailor’s level of experience.
3. The shark tattoo
The shark tattoo is often chosen by people that want to show that they will stand up for themselves, are strong and will not be pushed around. The original meaning in the maritime world was that the shark tattoo symbolized the hardships and difficulties that one has to overcome, both out at sea and back on shore.
4. The nautical star tattoo
The nautical star helps the sailor to stay on course and ensures a safe voyage back home.
5. The mermaid tattoo
The mermaid, half woman and half fish, is still a subject of fascination. According to legend, she seduces sailors by singing for them, guiding them to their doom. It is supposed to be a metaphor for the sea being both very alluring and dangerous at the same time.
Women and love
A lot of vintage tattoos refer to women or love in general.
1. The pinup tattoo
Pinup tattoos are still very popular. Woman, most often in a 1950 style, with colored lips and seductive curves, are very popular in the tattoo world. They symbolize sensuality, femininity and seduction. They are often combined with other, smaller tattoos, such as cherries.
2. Tattoos from the heart
No matter how cliché it might sound, nothing symbolizes love as much as a heart. These tattoos are therefore true classics. There are countless tattoo designs, ranging from very simple to very complex ones. They can for instance involve flowers surrounding the heart, possibly the name of a loved one or even an arrow piercing right through. The possibilities are endless. Those who are less fortunate with their love life, can opt for a tattoo showing a broken heart.
3. The rose tattoo
Roses, and especially the red variant, have always been linked to love and beauty. They can be used individually or in combination with other tattoos, such a heart or a woman’s portrait, but also with skulls and weapons. The color of the rose can be used to communicate specific meaning, such as red for love, pink for grace, black for disaster and death, and white for purity.
The animal world offers tons of inspiration when it comes to creating tattoos. Every animal has its own characteristics and personality, which allows people to identify with a specific animal. That makes people think little bit longer before deciding on what animal tattoo they want, as they want to use the animal that they identify most with.
1. The eagle tattoo
The eagle is one of the animals that is used most often, especially in the US. The animal is one of the country’s symbols, making it incredibly popular with military personnel and patriotic citizens. The eagle symbolizes honor, courage, independence and freedom.
2. The snake tattoo
Tattoos involving snakes can have numerous meanings, all depending on the individual tattoo. Snakes that are ready for action or that appear to be attacking, symbolize aggression, evil and danger. If the snake is curled up or depicted in a less threatening way, it usually symbolizes renewal. This is because have the habit of renewing by shedding their skin. This also gives the tattoo a possible meaning of “starting anew”.
3. The dragon tattoo
The mythical dragon, often referring to Chinese or Japanese culture, is found in many different shapes and forms. With and without wings, with and without scales, threatening or cartoony, with and without horns. The Japanese dragons are often small, brightly colored, wingless, and with only three claws. They symbolize balance, freedom and happiness. The Chinese version has 5 claws and is often depicted together with some form of fire. The Chinese dragon symbolizes one half of yin and yang, the phoenix depicts the other half. This is how the Chinese people see the “balance” in a dragon or the balance between good and evil.
Temporary vintage tattoos?
Temporary vintage tattoos are smoking hot and will stay that way for quite a while to come. Are you still in doubt about whether or not you want to have a vintage tattoo? Or do you want to switch things up every once in a while? Then get yourself a temporary vintage tattoo! You can find our temporary vintage collection right here.