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I'm sorry, I don't remember everything, but I'll give you what I remember.

A rooster on one foot and a pig on the other was to help sailors find the surface if their ship sunk. When a ship sinks, and you're pulled under, it's hard to know which way is up. Most ships sink in bad weather, meaning that you won't even have the sun to guide you. When ships sank, the sailors noticed that pigs and roosters sank pretty much like rocks. humans do not. So, therefore, these tattoos symbolize wheight on your feet, to direct your feet downwards, and then also your head upwards, and you'll resurface.

A full-rigged ship symbolizes that a sailor has sailed all seven seas.

A rope around the wrist symbolizes that a sailor is, well, a sailor. Most often referred to as a deckhand tattoo (a deckhand is the name for the lowest rank on a ship)

A swallow would symbolize two things:
1. when ships were out sailing, the would have nothing but the stars and a compass to guide them. Sometimes they'd go for weeks without ever seeing land. Also, no birds. Birds can't fly too far off shore, because they need somewhere to land and rest. A swallow is not only a mainland bird, it's the mainland bird that flyes the farthest off shore. When a sailor spotted a swallow, he would know that they were (relatively) close to land. I'm not sure how far off shore a swallow can fly, sorry.
2. when a sailor had sailed 50.000 nautical miles, he would get one swallow. I've read that they would only get two, but I've also read that they would get one for every 50.000 nm until they quit sailing, and I've also seen sailors with 8 and more swallows.

not too sure about this one: A turtoise would symbolize that the sailor had sailed across equator.

HOLD FAST on the fingers would give extra strength to hold on to the ropes when this was needed (eg in high winds, or storms)

A dragon would symbolize that the bearer of the tattoo had sailed to Asia.

MAN'S RUIN is a well-known Sailor Jerry tattoo, which simply was to symbolize how many sailors would come to port and gamble, drink and have sex with prostitutes, which is not at all a healthy lifestyle. it's also through alcohol, gambling and women that a man loses his money. (most former sailors I know are poor alcoholics today). I'M NOT REALLY SURE IF THIS IS CONSIDERED A SAILOR TATTOO.

I'm not sure if there are "rules" as to where they'd put all these tattoos, though. I know most people have the ships either on their chest or belly, swallows are mostly on shoulders, dragons on the back or one upper arm, I've never ever seen the turtoise on any sailor or sailor-inspired person.

2007-08-02 09:45:07
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