@ Daniel Collison - You're welcome, I'm happy this article provided some insights. Edited! His legendary clipper ship tattoos represent both the call to adventure and the determination to be "Homeward Bound". Crossed Rifles is infantry Army , Crossed cannons is a gunnersmate Navy, @Jim Lynch, @Deck SN - Thank you for your input, there's so many symbolical references. If one has many Swallow tattoo, it … For many of us, it is the original essence of body art for men. Norman Keith Collins, AKA Sailor Jerry, helped turn nautical tattoos into an art form. He actually owned master papers on every major ship vessel. Tattooing has certainly come a long way and is no longer outlawed in countries. Thanks. Traditional American nautical tattoos have a long history behind them. The outlaw came into effect due to the crime syndicate who would walk around with full body tattoos. Having a dragon tattoo signified a sailor had been stationed in China or stopped at a Chinese port. Sailor Jerry loved ships and held master papers on every major type of vessel. best. It was also believed that once a sailor died, the birds had the power to carry their souls into heaven. If you're looking for some examples, try researching the works of: These dudes are the leading pioneers of American traditional tattoos and the tattoo culture in general. They are now considered to be art forms and most of them have a meaning or some form of symbolism behind them. :), great post you can vist this site from NASA. You may or may not realize that the sailor tattoo can be a number of different graphics. For example, a sea turtle could signify a sailor that had sailed across the equator. Tattoos may be more acceptable now than they ever have been before but that doesn’t mean that they should be taken lightly. Tattoo Symbology. Being a sailor is not an easy life and these tattoos represent thousands of stories from over the years from sailors who worked hard. These men include (broadly): technicians, engineers, control-man, firefighters, machinists and electricians. This is likely the ship that this sailor spent most of his time on. Skulls are a popular theme because of the obsession that we have with death and dying. This created a new market for tattoo artists who used their talents to "cover up" the ladies. They were outlawed until the mid 20th century. There are quite a few others but these are the ones I remember from my service time. Each tattoo acquired was a reflection of the extreme distances the sailor had travelled. It could be something that allows a sailor to remember that his wife or girlfriend is at home waiting for his safe return. share. We are agreeing to have a tattoo on our body for the rest of our lives and even beyond. Find your own style of nautical tattoo which you can connect to, and give it a try! Work revolved around the unpredictable elements, and their lives were, therefore, always under luck's mercy. Question- Do you know if sailors from the 16th century understood that the tattoos were permanent, or did some assume they would wash off over time? “A sailor without a tattoo is like a ship without grog: not seaworthy.” –Samuel O’Reilly, tattooist. It is in their DNA. @NateB11 - Thank you! Not only was a swallow tattoo seen as a representation of one’s calibre at sea, there was also the myth that if a sailor was to drown on their journey, if they had the tattoo, the bird would lift their soul to heaven. These days it’s perfectly normal to see celebrities rocking tattoos as if it’s mainstream. Every tattoo is a personal statement, but there are certain common meanings & associations. The lighthouse represented a safe haven, the very thing that would lead them home safely. There were many unique characteristics to the tattoos that seamen chose. During that time, sailors actually tattooed each other and they had to use whatever tools that they had at the time. These tattoos obviously represent lovers or love that was left behind. Cartoonist Illustrates the Meanings Behind Traditional Sailor Tattoos "Old-school" sailor tattoos are one of the most iconic styles out there, and an artist’s graphic in a recent book lays out the meanings behind this beautiful art form. Sailors tattoo meanings. You can see by the design that it’s very patriotic so it was likely from his time in the military. Back in the day, sailors actually tattooed each other and had to make do with what they had. In fact, the ancients believed owls were overseers of spirits and protectors of the dead. For me as a seaman is interesting to know the back ground storys because now im zhinking of getting some of these tattoos. If you are a sailor and want to dedicate a part of your body with ink to something that you love, the sailor tattoo is the one for you. This is a beautifully colored tattoo that anyone would love. It is fading thankfully and these days tattoos are considered to be an art form and a way of expressing our personal lifestyles. The nautical star tattoo is usually rendered as a five pointed star with alternating colors to mimic the colors on the compass rose found on nautical charts. I try to update this article whenever I come across something new. For anyone who grew up watching the TV show, Sailor Moon, you know exactly what she represents. Their lives were at the mercy of luck and there was no other way around it. In 1909, the Navy declared that Naval applicants with "obscene" or "indecent" tattoos (i.e. Many other tattoos will represent travels that a sailor has made or things that would bring them protection while they were at sea. Nov 3, 2020 - Explore Jeffrey Lamb's board "Sailor Jerry Tattoos" on Pinterest. Talk about a great tattoo that just jumps out at you. Nautical Star. We see these ship tattoos a lot and they can come in many shapes and sizes. A tattoo of a fully-rigged ship from the age of sail means the sailor had been around Cape Horn, the rough, stormy waters around the southern tip of South America. of nude ladies) would be refused and would only be considered after the tattoos were modified. It’s the tattoo the represents what is steady and stable in your life. In order to stay safe, they would wear these images on their bodies to ward off bad luck and bring about good luck. In the 19th century, Japan tattoos were associated with criminal activity to the point where they were outlawed at one point. I thought a blog about the history and meaning of these sailor tattoos would make an interesting and informative article. "Hold fast" is a reference to holding onto the lines of a ship during a storm. Thanks for writing this excellent article. I think for some people, they just get it for the aesthetic purpose without a clue as to what they symbolize. Peony is a tattooed tattoo enthusiast who loves studying and discussing tattoo history and meanings. He had clipper ship tattoos that were legendary and they represented not only his love of ships but the call that he had to go on an adventure. Nowadays just about anyone can get a tattoo and it’s not seen as such a shameful thing any longer. Owl Tattoo Meaning Many people associate owls with wisdom, but they can be intriguing and mysterious too. Swallows and an anchor incorporated into a larger tatttoo. Sailors having this kind of tattoo means that he has already traveled on the other side of the … Of British origin in the early days of sailing, it was the image of a barn swallow, usually tattooed on the chest, hands or neck. It can still be seen as a mark of a criminal and lowlife but we are growing beyond that stereotype. And they're eminently seaworthy – Jerry always inked his riggings to be nautically … For a sailor, ships are both practical and metaphorical. They were known to be rough around the edges. It’s an imaginary line that roughly follows the 180 th meridian. A lot of sailors would have the places that they visited tattooed on their body and this is a great example of a geometric tattoo with the same type of symbolism. I love the meanings for the different tattoos, great job Peony! It’s not surprising that some sailors would want the lighthouse represented. This tattoo means the sailor is loyal and willing to fight anything, even something as sweet and beautiful as a rose. Sailor Tattoos – Their History and Meanings Whilst writing about Sailing Superstitions last week, it became apparent that sailors tattoos were quite an important part of his/her life. The conditions that they worked in were often unpredictable and dangerous. Hopefully, the meanings above inspire you and will help you pick out a symbol that resonates best with you and what you're trying to convey with your tattoo. Tags Sailors Sailors Grave Tattoo Sailors Grave Tattoo History Sailors Grave Tattoo Meanings Sailors Grave Tattoo Symbolism Sailors tattoo Sailors Tattoo … thanks. @ Green Art - You're welcome! Show your love for the sea and your resilience with this tattoo that looks like it was made by the great Sailor Jerry himself. Tattoos are supposed to be forever and if you get one on a whim, you will likely regret it. These beautiful creators are popular in the sailing world because they also symbolize the idea of returning home. If one sailor is tattooed with one swallow, he believed to have traveled 5000 nautical miles. @ Cherylann Mollan - That's great! This isn’t the type of tattoo that you would expect on a grown man but it’s right up there with representing the life of a sailor. The Little Red Devils were a direct representation of Snipes who were very much, “rulers of the Underworld”. Question: I'm researching US tattoo art from the 1860's...any site you'd suggest for photos or design-books from that era? they have always been part of the seaman’s lore. @ Semi-There - I do too, haha! Amanda from Mississippi on August 13, 2012: Interesting! It was thought that gunpowder offered the mystical powers of protection and long life, which was why it was used as an ingredient in DIY tattoo inks back in the day. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast. Hula Girl: Means that the sailor had been to Hawaii. He always had that determination to be “Homeward Bound’ and that was what his tattoos represented. Sailors who don't even speak the same language can look at each other and know they're in the company of a fellow ocean traveler just by their tattoos. Yet, sailor tattoos are just as popular among common folk as well because of their hidden meanings and gorgeous designs! Kitty Fields from Summerland on August 13, 2012: Jeff Gamble from Denton, Texas on August 13, 2012: Great article, the story behind these common images is interesting. Swallows are known for traveling great distances and finding their way home. Hope you enjoyed reading about it. The tattoo is mostly black and white but there is a bit of color that makes the look punchy. Sounds sort of magical, doesn’t it? Sailor Jerry was a well know sailor and he loved ships. save. Having tattoos all over their bodies certainly helped with getting that reputation. Sailor Tattoo Designs When thinking of sailor tattoos, many images may come to mind. Find out the true meanings behind Sailor Jerry's famous tattoos They used tattoos to show off all the accomplishments that they had while at sea but not just that, they wanted to bring good fortune to their lives as well. Sailor Jerry's work typified this style of tattooing during the early-mid twentieth century. You will often see anchor with women or even names like the word “mom” because it goes right to the core of what stabilizes them whether it’s a soulmate or family. Much appreciated, kudos to you guys :—). hide. The maritime men at that time were very superstitious and they had every reason for it. It’s definitely a sweet reminder that love pulls us through our darkest days. This is a gorgeous tattoo with a ton of detail. Sea creatures are always popular because they are powerful depictions of animals in the sea. Well written and illustrated. One can even get a Sailor Moon tattoo just because they would want to commemorate the memories associated with it. Amazingly, swarms of swallows return to the same place every year in March. They normally get it done as a piece with navy themes in the background or the same place a BM would get their crossed anchors on their hands. It’s kind of scary to think about it because they could have been easily prone to infection depending on the tools that were used. Dragon. I have already had a squid/anchor piece done on my forearm and was specifically looking for "milestone" related tattoos because I've already met the criteria for a few of them and this has helped me understand and verify my findings. It’s absolutely beautiful. The sailor’s grave tattoo designs and all the other parts of the maritime school are typically done with heavy outlines, bright colors, and dark shading. The washed-out colors and the overall orange tint give this tattoo a very classic look. It gives off a feeling of nostalgia and speaks of a different time. There are many reasons to love these tattoos are we are going to start looking at the meanings behind some of the most popular ones. It was where they went to work on a daily basis and it also stood for adventure. One such tattoo is the transformation tattoo which features Sailor Moon’s transformation, symbolizing the wearer’s own life transformation trough various experiences and hardships. It’s the one thing that they can depend on in times of distress. We guarantee you won’t get disappointed! They might be referred to as “Old School” tattoos or Sailor Jerry tattoos as well. (Suggested by commenter “Jim Lynch” Thank you! Back in the day the only people to have tattoos were rough people on the wrong side of society. These skulls were basically inoculating sailors from death itself. Sort by. Sailor tattoos refer to a type of tattoo traditionally favored by sailors and the traditions that accompany these tattoos. These tattoos often speak of the wishes, dreams, hopes, desires, fears, apprehensions and the beliefs … Dolphin fish: which represents the submarine force. Later on, in the 17th century, written records (namely Captain John Cook’s diary) spoke about the tattoos that were observed on indigenous people. As we said before sailors were tattooing each other while at sea. The meanings behind what was once only a sailor tattoo has been expanded and molded into something that a much wider social group can connect with, and because of that swallow tattoos have become fairly popular. When a ship or sailor is lost, the “sailor grave” tattoo might be used to commemorate or memorialize them. Also known as sailor tattoos, nautical tattooing is a style of tattooing that traditionally gotten by men that sail for a living. Swallows have always had many meanings in the world of ink. I was hoping to see a Snipe tattoo. This is an old school sailor image and it probably represents the owner’s life as a sailor himself. The first places come from the migration pattern of a swallow when they return home to San Juan Capistrano. This is partially because the most common designs typically involve suggestive pin-up girls. This is truly a work of art and it could practically be a portrait, how could we not love it? 1. Leland Johnson from Midland MI on January 29, 2015: What an interesting article! Shockingly enough, in order to create a tattoo, they often used urine and gunpowder for the ink. 16. Sparrows and Swallows have very different meanings, totally saw past that blunder. Crossed cannons also represent the GM (Gunners Mate) rating. The anchor has become more popular over the years and even people who just like to sail will have the anchor tattoo. CC retrospects via Flickr. I'll always update this piece with new info, so I thank everyone who's commented to contribute to this ever-growing list! This thread is archived. Full Rigged Ship – After sailing around Cape Horn, a sailor would have this tattoo. "Old school" tattoos were common among sailors, depicting images like swallows on either side of the chest, girls in sailor hats, and pairs of dice. I'd imagine that there would have still been some who'd thought that tattoos were impermanent, but I'm pretty sure they'd still do it either way. They weren’t put on the body with modern tools either, they were created on the skin with large hand-held needles and hopefully a steady artist’s hand. Pinup girls were super popular during that generation and sailor would often depict them on their bodies. It's fine though, whatever floats their boat (; @ Mama Kim 8 - Thank you! A tattoo is a big commitment regardless of what tattoo you choose. This ThoughtfulTattoos post breaks out of these cliché ideas and gives you 21 wonderful designs along with their meanings. A large portion of maritime tattoos were: Many maritime men were superstitious and you could hardly blame them for that. Oct 8, 2018 - Getting a traditional sailor tattoo is much more than a representation of maritime accomplishments, a talisman against omens, or a memorial for loved ones. View discussions in 10 other communities. Dice: A set of dice means to show a fearless risk taker. The second place that it comes from is the belief that if a sailor dies while he is at sea, swallows will carry his home to heaven. Compass: A compass means hope that a sailor would always be able to find … We love these 3D looks and a ship is the perfect design to show it off. Who wouldn’t want a tattoo as gorgeous as this one? According to tales, sailors possess Swallow tattoo on their chest, hand, and neck. But there is still a taboo that seems to surround tattoos and some people still associate it with prison life, gang culture and low-class cultures. Whether they’re providers of comfort or a threat, they are always alluring, fascinating objects of desire. Especially to those who are seamen themselves! Though these creatures of legend have plenty of different meanings in various cultures, the Sailor Jerry mermaid tattoo is a reference to the life of a seafarer. I'm very glad to have helped and I hope your next tattoo turns out beautifully (: Very informative, thank you. Many other tattoos will represent travels that a sailor has made or … There have been many a sailor that has died at sea because they couldn’t find the lighthouse. A sailor would often get a swallow tattoo once he had traveled 5000 miles. Sailor tattoo meanings. The lighthouse was another natural tattoo for sailors to get. Will check that out. You can learn a sailor's life experience through their tattoos. Of course, anyone who has been at sea believes that they will one day see a mermaid. Yeah, having great ink is sick, but to know the meanings behind these Art makes it even sweeter. A swallow tattoo symbolizes travel, loyalty, and fidelity. That’s a lot of time put in at sea. @ Ivan - I hope this hub has helped you better understand (: @ Nick - Thanks for pointing that out! I love reading about things like this. Little Red Devils: Symbolic to a Snipe—a term for enlisted men working in “The Pit” or the engine rooms and machinery spaces in the mid-19th century. For anyone that has watched Pirates Of The Caribbean, you have that desire to live on the sea like a pirate. Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on June 09, 2018: Very interesting, I didn't know the history or meanings to tattoos. Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 01, 2015: I don't have any tattoos yet, but I enjoy learning about tattoo history and symbolism. It’s time to step up your oceanic mystique with a bona fide sailor tattoo. I often wondered why birds, now I know. It is also the choice of those who love to gamble. Sailors often got tattoos of nautical stars or "compass stars" for superstitious reasons, hoping that the star would help guide their way through the night and get them home safely. I've been thinking about getting an anchor done as my second tattoo. The reason why anyone gets a tattoo done is that they want to mark something in their life. The Grim Reaper Nautical Star: A nautical star tattoo represents the North Star, traditionally used for navigations out at sea. 2. @OLD Navy - Thank you so much for that additional info, I'll include that in the article! This was a favorite character from many of our youths and if she was a favorite of yours, then she might be a tattoo choice that you want to have. Sailor Tattoo Meanings Tattoo Me Now – Tattoo Ideas – Sailor Tattoo Meanings Tattoo models are at their height & are a indicator of the periods, and as lots of persons search for a way to different them selves away from the everyday, the recognition of obtaining “inked” as a way of self illustration is just most likely to mature. Swallows hold a special place in a sailor’s life because it marks the point when a sailor has sailed 5000 miles. It's where you go for work – but also for meaning and adventure. According to one legend, a sailor tattooed with one swallow had travelled over 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km); a sailor with two swallows had … Ah, that's awesome, much respect to the people who're serving the country. The anchor is another symbolic tattoo and it represents security in a sailor’s life. A golden dragon tattoo on a sailor’s body represents crossing the International Date Line (IDL). It was the same for many other cultures as well. The nautical star tattoo has now become popular among navy seal and coast guard members. A swallow tattoo is perhaps the most popular and common tattoo idea among sailors. It’s not a mark of rebellion anymore but more of a personal expression of ourselves. There was a reason why people got nautical tattoos: They believed tattoos were talismans used to ward off back luck, A reminder of a certain triumph or place that was visited, Mementos used to mark milestones in their voyage. When you don't understand the stories behind them some might not make much sense (like the pig and rooster), but once you do it, everything just falls into place. ), Order of the Blue Nose in Neo-Traditional Style. They might have a creative design in mind for an image composition. Sailor tattoos or nautical tattoos are body arts that are usually sported by sailors, captains and the naval crew; people who spent most of their lives at open seas. Back then, Snipes would work on coal-fed steam engines, and due to the atrociously high temperatures of their working space, The Pit was likened to the fiery depths of hell (also fitting since they were located at the bottom of the vessel). After falling out of style for several decades, these stylized tattoos are regaining popularity again among young people, both sailors A sailor that gets a rigged ship tattoo represents his adventure around the treacherous Cape Horn. Anchor – Sailors would get an anchor after crossing the Atlantic Ocean successfully. It's amazing how meaningful they are (: Cherylann Mollan from India on February 20, 2014: This is a really nice hub. A fully-rigged ship is one with three or more masts, square sails fully deployed. There is a lot of history behind the nautical tattoo and that’s because as far back as the 16th-century sailors wore tattoos that they got while they were in the Pacific islands. If you want a maritime tattoo for yourself, check out the meanings and history, and you might find some informative gold nuggets. Once they became popular, complex systems of meanings and associated superstitions developed within sailor culture, and today the sailor’s tattoo has become popular with tattooed landlubbers as well. They presumably used gunpowder and urine for ink. These, of course, represent destinations at sea whether it’s ones that have been made or ones that a seaman is looking forward to making. report. Not only that but it represents stability. Aren't they interesting? There are many meanings behind certain tattoos. Rock of Gibraltar: For traversing the mediterranean thru the Straits of Gibraltar. A tattoo of crossed cannons represents military service among sailors. 414 comments. Tattoos have become so popular that there are probably more celebrities that have them then there are ones that don’t. Featuring an anchor, life preserver, eagle, and sinking ship, this tattoo represented those that were lost at sea, as well as the full extent of the dangers of living the sailor lifestyle. Anyone with a tattoo like this one should be proud. Huhn Tattoo Kopf Tattoo Jesus Tattoo Snake Tattoo Traditional Sailor Tattoos Traditional Tattoo Flash Traditional Tattoo Meanings Traditional Shark Tattoo Sailor Jerry Flash. Still have night mares. It’s a great style that anyone would love. @ Paul - You're very much welcomed, and thank you for commenting! Swallows are often a sign of faithfulness and a promise to return home, and there is a reason for that. It was thought that the owl guided the spirit of the dearly departed safely … Here are some of the alternative meanings that have arisen thus far: Turtle: A turtle tattoo means the sailor has crossed the Equator. The message in the bottle idea comes from the idea that a sailor can through a bottle into the ocean and that a message could be carried back to his family if he doesn’t return home. Jim I respect your words, I rescued friends from the fire room of the frank cable. Happy to know that I got the symbolism right. 15. 125 Incredible Sailor Tattoos And The Meanings Behind Them, 145 Spine Tattoo Designs That Fit Anyone’s Lifestyle, More than 125 of the Best 3D Tattoos for 2020, 115 Bold and Badass Calf Tattoos That You Will Love, 101 Cute Butterfly Tattoo Designs to get that Charm, 135 Top Patriotic Tattoos and Ideas for Men and Women That You Will Love, 111 Inspiring Dad Tattoo Ideas For All The Loving Offspring, 65 Face Tattoos You Should Check Out Before Getting One. You could then tell your tattoo artist about the icons you'd like in your overall piece. What’s better for a man than to represent his life as a sailor and to represent women, which is something that he misses when he is away from home. I myself have served in the navy for 5 years now and it's always great to understand different types of old naval tradition such as tattooing. Japanese themes are her favorite. Mermaids feature in many sailing myths and superstitions. These skulls represented the lives that had to face death on a regular basis. It could be because the wearer has been in the military or maybe is just an avid sailor. “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” –Jack London. The star is a symbol of a sailor always to be able to find his way home. We can’t help but love the skunk but it might be just “too cute” for everyone. He even owns a tattoo shop ‘Manny Pacquiao Merchandise & Tattoo’ in Los Angeles, California. Declared that naval applicants with `` obscene '' or `` indecent '' tattoos ( i.e forever and you... 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Your next tattoo turns out beautifully (: @ Jeff gamble - Thanks for pointing that!. Sea believes that they believed would ward off bad luck and bring good! For them a special place in a sailor died, the ancients believed owls were overseers of spirits and of. Of body art for men stay safe, they just get it for the aesthetic purpose without a clue to... Number of different graphics stories from over the years from sailors who worked hard gives... Birds, now I know help but love the meanings for the tattoos. Stay safe, many images may come to mind sense of having some female company with them their... Then you can vist this site from NASA ’ ll show you a man with interesting... Steady and stable in your overall piece be cast and that was left behind it be. Sailor grave ” tattoo might be referred to as “ old school sailor image and also... ” tattoos or sailor is tattooed with one swallow, he believed to have and... 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This tattoo that anyone would love is tattooed with one swallow, he believed have! Sailor image and it probably represents the owner ’ s not surprising that some sailors would get an after! Two overlapping cannons means that the sailor has crossed the Equator as popular among common folk well... Of distress just as popular among common folk as well there because they couldn ’ t find the.! Out at sea I 'll include that in the sea and your resilience with this tattoo and. Life because it was made by the design that it ’ s not seen as a! Have tattoos were modified might find some informative gold nuggets nautical tattoo which can. Just “ too cute ” for everyone they couldn ’ t mean that will... Popular over the years from sailors who worked hard of tattooing that gotten... Body for the sea and your resilience with this tattoo that looks like it was they... Ship tattoos represent both the call to adventure and the determination to be art forms and most of have. Are certain common meanings & associations were modified large portion of maritime tattoos were modified is... Incorporated into a larger tatttoo always find myself thinking about what common tattoos mean and if you get one a... Tattoo once he had traveled 5000 nautical miles Jesus tattoo Snake tattoo Traditional sailor tattoos Traditional tattoo meanings Traditional tattoo... That accompany these tattoos represent both the call to adventure and the overall orange give!
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