Tattoos and Body Art

For centuries, humans have decorated their bodies with symbols. The art of piercing, tattooing, and scarring have been used as symbols of bravery and social standing. Tattoos and body art remain popular today.

16,112 Questions
Tattoos and Body Art

What would you get a tattoo of, if anything?

I already have a couple, my next one will be an add-on to an existing one I have that pays tribute to my favorite piece of music.

History of Maritime
Tattoos and Body Art

What is the history of the nautical star?

Nautical Star HistoryNautical stars were first tattooed on early sailors because they relied on the stars to find their way, therefore they always had a star to be with them and always knew where they were going in their own lives and at sea. It was kind of a sense of security and guidance.

Here is more input:

  • I believe the design you are all talking about is the traditional design for the face of a ship's compass. The 4 longest points indicate the cardinal directions, N, S, E & W. Between these are shorter points for NE, SE, SW, and NW. 8 additional points indicate NNE, ENE, etc.
  • People who have nautical star tattoos have said it is: a symbol to follow your dreams, a remembrance star, something to let everyone know that you rely on the stars to guide you in the specific path you choose, or representing love.
  • Back in the day when being gay wasnt the thing to do, butch females would get the tattoo on the inside of their wrists so they could cover it up with a watch during the day and at night they could take off the watch and other dykes would know.
  • The bit about the nautical star being used as a signal for butch lesbians to find other lesbians in the 40's-60's is true. It fell out of favor in the late 60's with the advent of feminism, when lesbians became more openly visible. It was typically hidden under a watchband.
  • It was used for navigation back in the day now people say its for sense of direction in your life it has nothing to do with anarchy or the pentogram and whoever said that they are an "avid" punk rocker needs to smack themselves very hard in the face.
  • Back in the day the sailors had it tattooed on them, much like they would an anchor. The nautical star is a symbol of guidance. The sailors rely on the stars for navigation, hence "follow the stars." Nowadays, people like to say "follow your dreams."
  • First of all the star represents navigation in the Navy. That is where its original meaning came from. Now days it is a representation of OC = Orange County, CA. Straight edge is a black X not a Nautical Star and straight edge ended along time ago here in Huntington Beach, CA. The gang anyways. Alot of people still say they are straight edge (followers) meaning that they do not do drugs, smoke or have sex. Not that they are in a gang. I also had a Mexican guy come up to me in Santa Ana and ask me where I did 2 years at. I have 2 nautical stars on my shoulders since 1995 not 2000 when MTV put them out and they became trendy so I assume in the Mexican community that it represents doing 1 year for each star. I do not know about the whole lesbian thing. That sounds like a gimmick. I believe dykes have Dolphins tatted on them not stars.
  • The nautical star may be a fad, however there is a real reason it was created to mean what it does. Regardless, it doesn't matter what it really means now, right? Sailors apparently started it, then only lesbians got them, the emo kida had 'em circa 1985, then it went out of fashion, blah blah blah. I have 2 1.5 inch black and dark pink stars tattooed on my lower stomach, on both sides of my hips. I got them because I had a wristband with the exact star on it for about 2 years, and it was my favorite. I love stars too! Don't get me wrong, I'm not a lesbian, I'm not a sailor, and I'm not a hardcore punk chick. I'm not straight edge either. You can compare and contrast the real meaning of the nautical maritime star, but I believe there is no real meaning. Just like the swactica, the cross, and even the middle finger. They were all started somehow, sometime, no one knows for sure. It all comes down to personal interpretation. Whatever you feel is right.
Tattoos and Body Art
Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings

What is the symbolic meaning of a sparrow tattoo?

Back in the days of the tall ships, sailors would get a sparrow tattoo for crossing a sea, i.e., from the US to England. A seaman with 5,000 miles or more under his belt earned the right to a sparrow tattoo. Some called it a swallow. There you go.

More answers from WikiAnswers contributors:

  • It may not mean anything, but I know a lot of men in the UK who have bird tattoos on their hands and wrists have been released from prison. The sparrows symbolize freedom.
  • I know of a gang that gets tattoos like that and they get them because it is their way of showing that they are free to do what they like and don't follow any rules but their own.
  • A sparrow is a symbol of finding your true love.
  • Having three sparrows on my body, one singing a song symbolizing Freedom and the other two diving toward a nautical star representing freedom to love and to find your true love. A sparrow is different from most birds, when they find their soul mate, they stay with them until their life's end.
  • Some tattoo artists get tattoos of sparrows somewhere on their body to draw evil away from their body, because they tattoo demons and anti-religious stuff everyday. They believe it will protect them and keep evil spirits away.
  • A sparrow for a safe journey a sparrow for a safe return and a banner from one beak to the other for every five thousand miles. I'm a sailor, I have sailor tats and the sparrows are a sailor tat. Makes sense though for ex-cons to get them for freedom. I like that idea, too.
  • Sailors earned the right to wear "blue birds of happiness" tattoos on either side of their chest after having crossed the Equator.
  • Sparrows can mean all/any of the following: eternity, luck, innocence. Sparrows are also known for traveling great distances, but always returning home. The way the sparrow is pictured also defines a lot about its' meaning.
  • The tat may have a religious significance. See Matthew 10:29, which reads "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."
  • I don't think that it has its OWN meaning, when i was 16, my first tattoo was different birds flying up my stomach, each one, to me, represented a family member or close friend of mine that had passed away. The sparrow represents my grandpa, because its said that they are wise birds that "resemble" peace, safety etc..
  • Sparrow (swallows, you may be confused with) are traditional nautical/Navy tattoos that signify that the sailor has traveled a certain amount in his life. Same with Nautical stars.
  • In the old days, before GPS, sailors would follow birds to land. There was an old sailor's legend about one particular captain who would recognize the sparrow as native to his home. The sparrow would signify his coming home. The tattoo is supposed to help lead you home.
  • I have two sparrows on my chest - the devil and the angel symbolizing good and evil in all of us. But I chose sparrows due to the fact that it also symbolized freedom and loyalty. It was like symbolizing " being true to thy self."
  • They are old sailor tattoos. You would get the first one after traveling 5,000 miles and the second after traveling another 5,000.
  • The sparrow tattoo was designed by Sailor Jerry. He also designed/originated the love mom tattoos as well as his own brand of rum.
  • Sparrows symbolize love, dedication and trust. Sparrows mate for life and will always return home no matter how far they travel. They should always be tattooed in pairs. Sparrow tattoos are often confused with Blue swallows. Swallows were often tattooed on sailors to symbolize a safe return home. When a sailor saw a swallow at sea, he knew he was near land. If the swallow is tattooed on the sailor's upper chest near his shoulder, it represents 5,000 nautical miles sailed.
  • I have one sparrow on each side of my neck, one with its head curled back/up and the other with it facing forward. The one looking back/up, to me, means I'm letting go of the past and the one facing forward is the obvious opposite, live in the present and deal with what's coming not what's already gone.
  • Another less-used meaning dates back to Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians associated sparrows/swallows with the stars and believed that they caught the souls of those who have passed (hence "living" on as stars). I have two on my back, one on each shoulder blade, with the left representing those I have lost in the past and the right representing those I'll lose in the future.
  • I'm thinking about getting a sparrow tattoo, There are so many meanings for it, But mine's completely personal. Im German, and I have lots of memories visiting my grandparents there. I used to watch the sparrows with my oma. She used to love them. She passed away a year ago. I want to get one in memory of her. But also, My parents have such a strong marriage and and have pet names, my dad calls my mom "spatz" which means sparrow in German. But that's just my opinion on sparrow tattoos.

Sparrows and swallow tattoos are often grouped as the same thing....

swallows were gotten by pirates when they travel over 100,000 miles or over the equator and back, they would ge one on the way one on the way back... (often done on collarbones) they have a symbolism of "safe travel/safe return"

they also are a symbol of true love (more so with swallows) but swallows mate for life, and no matter where each of them are in the world, once a year they both meet up in the Galapagos Islands to mate.... amongst millions of other birds, all over the world, they find each other.

-What most of this is talking about is Swallows, not sparrows. Oold sailors would tattoo one swallow for 5,000 miles, until they had their 2 swallows, after that they would do stars, often on the hands or in the ears. The crossing of the equator has little to do with the swallows. Crossiing the equator would generally be remembered with a tattoo of Neptunus Rex, or some manner of turtle, to represent the order fo the Shellback. Like most sailor-esque tattoos, its a good luck token. By all means, any tattoo is whatever you want it to mean, do it for you.

+1 ^ the crossing the line( equator) has nothing to do with the sparrows,or swallows. crossing the equator is when a sailor goes from being a slimy polly-wog (landlubber) to a mighty shellback-after a two day initiation; a day of wog uprising and rebelion,and the next day wich is the actual initiation and going before King Neptune.

The Sparrows were not a Sailor Jerry design,nor were the nautical stars-though he made them 'popular' and 'cool' to have.They have been around for a very long time. Much longer than most people know. As sailors travled by sea, swallows were seen flying above when land came closer. So a swallow in flight is a sign of land ahead or "safe return home".

It fully depends on who you ask. My favorite one I have ever heard was it was originally gotten by seamen to symbolize a safe journey home because when you saw the birds it meant you were close to shore. I have heard they also mean freedom and a few other things. Some people just get them because they look cool too.

Tattoos and Body Art

What tattoos symbolize determination?

The Japanese koi fish is a symbolizes determination and courage. They make a great tattoo

Tattoos and Body Art
Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings
Signs and Omens

What is the symbolism of a swallow tattoo?

Symbolism of a Swallow Tattoo:

Here are opinions and answers from contributors:

  • Swallow tattoos are just that; tattoos of the swallow bird. Reading about it, they are the traditional tattoos of birds that are commonly seen on people.
  • The swallows are an old sailor's tattoo. Sailors got them for proof of the Navy and trust. I'm getting one on my hand next week. Sailors also got mum and dad with an anchor behind it.
  • Long ago, a sailor would get a swallow tattoo after successfully sailing a certain amount of miles (obviously a great deal of miles, but I'm not sure exactly how many).
  • Actually, all swallows return home to San Juan Capistrano every year. So the tattoos were used to say that you will always come home. They are a sign of loyalty, pride to both regions and people.
  • It is said in an old superstition, that when you see a swallow for the first time in a new year it is an omen of wealth. You're supposed to rub the money in your wallet while watching the bird, in order to ensure wealth in the future.
  • Sailors would have a swallow tattoo put on their chest after completing 5,000 sea miles and one on the other side after completing 10,000 sea miles. Many sailors still get authentic Naval tattoos.
  • Here is the origin of the swallow tattoo: there was a ship named the swallow, the men had a mutiny and the original seven mutineers had swallows tattooed on them so that they could identify each other. Out of this two things happened: 1. People got swallows tattooed on them and lied about being one of the original seven; and 2. The authorities heard of this identification and searched for the seven sailors who got swallows to throw them off the right trail. Since then sailors have gotten swallows for every 5,000 nautical miles, one on each side of their chest, when they would retire they would hang a string between the two birds and hang women's underwear and stuff.
  • The traditional tattoo means: A sailor gets a set of swallows on his chest. The story goes if he or she drowns; the swallows come down and lift his soul to the heavens.
  • Sailors would get swallows after sailing all seven seas. If they had one, they saved a man's life. It's a sign of trust, honor, dignity and respect. Nowadays, they mean nothing more than some random tattoo that someone gets that has no meaning behind it.
  • I've always heard that the swallows are a mark for sailing around the horns (the bottom of South America and Africa) or for crossing the Equator, both longitude and latitude.
  • Okay; the swallow is a tattoo that a sailor gets after traveling 5,000 nautical miles at sea, but the reason behind it is that a swallow is the "first sign that land is near". To a sailor the swallow means a "safe return home". Swallows are known to travel far distances out to sea during migration and would rest on boats close to shore which gave early mariners the first sign that land was indeed close by. The horizon is 12 miles from a boater's standpoint in the ocean (more if higher up) and swallows fly further then 12 miles out. The swallow is also known as a sparrow and was worn by the famous pirate "Jack Sparrows".
  • The swallows traditionally mean 5,000 miles for the first and 10,000 miles for the second. When I got mine done, in honor of my grandfather, I was warned by the tattoo artist to be aware that, in terms of jail house tattoos, the bluebirds, swallows or sparrows can also stand for white supremacy or white power.
  • I am surprised that no one has commented on the connection that swallow tattoos have to rock and roll or music in general. I have always connected the swallows with a love, respect and appreciation for music. Much like the swallows always returning to San Juan, their home. I've always thought the tattoo represented always being home when you're within the music.
  • I've always associated swallow tattoos with loyalty and fidelity - swallows choose a mate for life and will only nest with that bird and no other. Also they carry a message of hope, when sailors saw a swallow they knew that land was near.
  • I actually wondered about this myself, and by chance a homeless person in London approached me, wanting to sell "the big issue" (a magazine). He had two swallows tattooed on his neck, so I asked him the meaning, and he said; "It's kind of rude" and he whispered it to me, because my girl was with me and he was a gentleman. He said it meant "Live long and live hard".
  • I always thought that two swallows seen paired together symbolized freedom.
  • I heard that the swallow/sparrow tattoos are to commemorate a fallen friend or family member. I would assume any persona that the bird has i.e., devil horns, angel halo or even a knife through it would depict the dead person's personality or trait.
  • It just means that they were a "Hard Man" back in their day. Everyone that I have ever met with a swallow tattoo has been at least a bit psychotic.
  • A swallow tattoo used to be worn by sailors back in the day. When you were out/lost at sea and you saw a swallow you knew you were close to land because these birds are never far from shore. They would follow the birds to safety or to home. I think the idea is that when you had the swallow marked on your body it would always help you find your way home.
  • They indicate that you've gone to prison and done your 'bird'.
  • From what I've heard and researched, swallows on the back of the hands are supposed to give you faster hands, such as in a fight or at work. These tattoos are much more common in Great Britain. I've never heard of them meaning racism or white supremacy before.
  • In Scotland it usually signifies a spell in the infamous Bar-L or Barlinnie prison in Glasgow.
  • I grew up in a bad area in Australia and a grandfather of a friend of mine came from England. He was a very hard man and the whole family was very tough and underworld related. I remember being a kid in their house when the grandfather was there and I asked him what his tattoos meant. He looked down on me with a hard face and said in a thick English accent (they moved to Australia in the 70's) "It means I can walk into any pub and put my hands on the bar and if anyone would want to fight, then I would fight them". He was a big guy and I had heard rumors of him tearing people apart. So I guess that they kind of mean courage, strength and loyalty. Oh yeah he was also a "Teddy Boy" in England, but I am not so sure what that is.
  • The swallow tattoo in England means "these fists fly". It's mainly seen on old guys now who used to be good fighters or well know hard men back in the day of the Krays, etc. Now younger people get them because they think they're tough. But the bright new ink used nowadays doesn't give the same look as the original tattoo.
  • I had a few tattoo artists tell me that sailors would get one bird tattooed on themselves after crossing the equator and the other when they came back.
  • My Dad has a swallow tattoo on his hand. When asked about it, he said he got it when he was 13 because it was the cheapest in the shop!
  • Swallow tattoos on a man's hands and neck originated in British prisons from the term 'jail-bird'. It simply means you have been to prison and served your 'bird'.
  • Freedom.
  • The swallow tattoo on the hand symbolizes that you're a swinger.
  • The swallow's wings are so long that the bird never reaches the ground. It always flies high above everything else on earth. Prisoners are known to tattoo themselves with a swallow when they leave prison as a symbol of freedom.
  • The swallow tattoo means a sailor completed 50,000 nautical miles.
  • If they're on the backs of the hands, it means you'll be faster and stronger in a fight. it's mostly in Great Britain and Australia though.
  • In Great Britain, the swallow tattoo on your hands means you've earned your 'wings' in a UK prison, i.e. you have been inititated into male-male sex rituals. Because of this it has also now become a popular design for gay celebrities such as Boy George, Mark Almond etc.
  • It also has a certain literal homo-erotic meaning, especially for sailors who have been at sea a long time without women.
  • If they're on the backs of the hands, it means you'll be faster and stronger in a fight. it's mostly in Great Britain and Australia though.
  • It's a symbol of good luck - traditionally nautical - for adventurers and travelers who will always find there way home. I have a swallow tattoo, someone told me it's the mark of
  • I got a swallow tattoo based on Egyptian mythology: During the Old Kingdom, swallows were associated with stars and therefore the souls of the dead. Chapter 86 of the Book of the Dead specifically instructs the deceased on how to transform into a swallow. In Spell 1216 of the Pyramid Texts, the pharaoh describes how he has "gone to the great island in the midst of the Field of Offerings on which the swallow gods alight; the swallows are the imperishable stars." The imperishable stars were those near the North Star that never seemed to rise or set, and therefore were "constant". The swallow also appears in paintings of the solar barque as it enters the underworld. The swallow is usually shown on the prow of the boat. In this context, the bird appears to be an announcer of the sun's approach. In Egyptian love poetry, the swallow declares the dawn of new love.
  • I got it because it symbolizes change, independence, and respect. The history of the swallow goes back much further than people realize.
  • Bluebirds and swallows are traditional nautical tattoos with a long history of use. They symbolize happiness and good fortune. The swallow was a tattoo a sailor got after traveling 5000 nautical miles.
History of Maritime
Tattoos and Body Art
US Navy History and Traditions

What were traditional nautical tattoos and piercings sailors got and why?

Traditional Tattoos and PiercingsI believe that tattoos originated after James Cooke first arrived on Tahiti. Tattooing was very popular in the South Pacific. Fletcher Christian and George Stewart of Mutiny on the Bounty fame both had stars tattooed on the left of their chests. Perhaps these were early Nautical Stars.

FAQ Farmers have offered these:

  • Sailors got their ears pierced because it helps improve eyesight (I think its an acupuncture site).
  • A black pearl earring for survivors of a sinking ship .
  • Golden earrings were used as a means of ensuring they were buried properly should they die at sea or in a foreign port.
  • In modern times a brass earring denoted a survivor of a ship sinking.
  • One left ear piercing for crossing each of the Equator, Artic Circle, and Antarctic Circle.
  • Earrings were thought to keep spirits from entering through the ear, but that's not a purely sailor thing.
  • A sparrow for every 5000 thousand nautical miles traveled,.
  • A sailor would get a swallow tattoo for every 5000 miles he had sailed.
  • A swallow because it will always find its way home.
  • A rooster and pig on the ankles are to prevent a sailor from drowning.
  • The pig and the rooster are tattooed on either the calves or the top of the feet, to prevent a sailor from drowning,. These animals were originally carried on most ships in wooden crates. When a ship goes down these crates would float and then catch currents and wash ashore with the other debris from the ship, making the pigs and roosters often the only souls to survive a shipwreck.
  • A tattoo of a pig on the left knee and a rooster (cock) on the right foot signified "Pig on the knee, safety at sea. A cock on the right, never lose a fight."
  • Tattoos of pigs and chickens were to make sure they always had their ham and eggs so that they never go hungry.
  • A turtle standing on its back legs (shellback) for crossing the equator and being initiated into King Neptune�s Court.
  • A tattoo of King Neptune if you crossed the Equator.
  • Crossed anchors on the web between the thumb and index finger for a bosn�s mate.
  • Royal Navy tattoos of palm trees for the Mediterranean cruises in WWII.
  • Many US sailors have a palm tree or hula girl from Hawaii.
  • The words HOLD and FAST were tattooed on the knuckles to help hold line.
  • Hold Fast across the knuckles to keep them from falling overboard or dropping a line.
  • Anchor tattoo for sailing the Atlantic.
  • Full rigged ship for sailing around Cape Horn.
  • Dragon Tattoo for a sailor who had sailed into port in China
  • A Golden Dragon was for sailors who had crossed the International Date Line.
  • Rope around the wrist for being a dockhand.
  • Two stars to ensure always knowing the way.
  • The anchor usually noted that the sailor was in the merchant marine.
  • Guns or crossed cannon for military naval service.
  • Harpoons for the fishing fleet.
  • Crosses on the soles of one's feet to ward off hungry sharks.
  • A nautical star, or compass rose was to always find your way home.
  • A dagger through a rose signified a willingness to fight and kill even something as fragile as a rose.
  • Many sailors also got pornographic images so that they would always have them with them.

I have a very old book c.1910 where an old sailor be moans the end of the sailors tattoo, yea right. he expounds that. " on the forearm the ports you've visited. on the wrist 'bracelets' on the upper arm the girls name or initials. on the lower leg the initials of all the girls you've 'had'." The "MOM" tattoo became popular during WWII as well as the "death before dishonour" dagger piercing the skin. but that's with the USN in the Royal Navy, and presumably the Commonwealth navies,this is my info; full rigged ship (on the back very large) for rounding the horn (cape horn), The anchor (fouled or not) for service in the Atlantic. All remaining tattoos except since 1970 are in this discussion. Many 'modern' sailors have put tattoos of their specility or of the distinctive badge they had earned. like having crossed hammers with wings for aircraft carrier mechanics, or the divers helmet for a diver,etc. As for crossing the line. None of us Shellbacks want to repete this trial! You get a card. but some of us wisely have the longitude and date as well as ship on our upper leg. So if we ever get mistaken for a pollywog we can "show a leg" (naval term for 'get up out of bed!'.). 119deg 6min 54sec East USS SAMUEL GOMPERS 19 SEP 1991

Tattoos and Body Art

What does a koi fish tattoo symbolize?

Koi Tattoos:

According to Japanese legend, if a koi succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called Dragon Gate on the Yellow River, it would be transformed into a dragon. Based on that legend, it became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.

More generally, the Japanese associate koi (also known as carp) with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose. Because of its strength and determination to overcome obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals.

More input from WikiAnswers contributors:

  • It means good fortune or luck.
  • Symbolic in the Buddhism to represent courage. Humans "swim" through the "ocean of suffering" without fear, just like a fish swims through water.
  • The koi is symbolic with family. On Children's Day koi flags are raised: Black koi, the father; Orange/Red, the mother; Blue/White for a boy; and red/pink for a girl.
  • There is another word to describe "love" which is "koi". The kanji character for "kokoro (heart)" is included as part of both kanji characters. Both "ai" and "koi" are probably translated as "love" in English. However, they have slightly different nuance: "Koi" is a love for the opposite sex, or a longing feeling for a specific person. It can be described as "romantic love" or "passionate love". While "ai" has the same meaning as "koi," it also has a definition of a general feeling of love. "Koi" can be selfish, but "ai" is a real love. Here are some lines that explain them well: Koi is always wanting. Ai is always giving."
  • A koi tattoo is supposed to represent different things it just depends on the color and the amount of them and the direction they are swimming in the stream. Five golden koi is supposed to represent eternal wealth and well-being. Each color represents a specific meaning. Some people believe that the color of koi tattoo on your body should be in harmony with you and your surroundings.
Tattoos and Body Art
Soulja Boy
Trey Songz

What does the tattoo on Trey Songz's chest say?


April is his mother's name, Forrest is his little brother's name, and Rose is his grandmother's name.

Commercial Insurance
Liability Insurance
Tattoos and Body Art
Malpractice Insurance

Who offers malpractice insurance for tattoo shops?

You'll need to shop around in your the State or province in which your Tattoo Shop is located.

Tattoo shops pose a unique risk to insurers. Many companies will consider them a high risk business so you may have to make a lot of calls before you find coverage.

One Market that may be able to provide insurance coverage for you could be Lloyd's of London. Try looking for an agent that has access to London Markets.

Good Luck

Tattoos and Body Art

Can getting a tattoo affect your kidneys?

No! it's doesn't affect your kidneys

if u didn't take care of it, yes, the ink can fade into ur skin and hurt u.

(New Respondent)

Modern inks very rarely have side effects, due to the omission of things like Iron Oxide which caused allergic reactions in RARE cases.

If you do have any serious medical conditions then please speak to your doctor and let the tattoo artist know beforehand, but as for affecting your kidneys, it ain't gonna happen

New answer

No these days tattoos don't affect the inside of the body. The ink only goes into the top layers of the skin. Even if you do get an infection it shouldn't affect the inside of your body. If you have any allergies or medical conditions that could affect you while getting tattooed then talk your doctor and a tattooist before getting tattooed.

History of Maritime
Tattoos and Body Art
Pop Music

Why do all the new Rockabilly Girls have tattoos of swallows nautical stars and cherries?

Rockabilly Girls' Tattoos

Simply, it's right for the era. Tattoo imagery has changed a great deal over the last couple of decades, designs such as those you mentioned were fairly popular during that time period as they were simple to do, looked good and held up well in the long run. A good source for the imagery is anything to do with Sailor Jerry - his work is becoming trendy now and is readily available in stores and online (also would like to note that within certain groups all of those designs had meanings as well, most of which are completely ignored today).

Here are more opinions and answers from other FAQ Farmers:

  • The idea of Rockabilly held a lot of significance in the Old Sailor Jerry days. More so though, I believe they think they are sailor girls. The swallows are from a few meanings for sailors, being close to home when you see swallows off the coast and they got them for every 2000 miles at sea.
  • Tattoos are a bad idea, if it's just a trend. I suspect a high percentage of the whoevers with "rockabilly" tattoos are just being trendy or to fit in. Either way, the rockabilly tattoos look WAY the hell better than tribal ones or barbed wire and the ones who get it for real (NOT trendy) rock.
  • I agree with the other answers 100%, but I also got mine because of Psalm 102:7. "You'll never find a sparrow alone except for when in mourning or it's lost its way" which is where I'm at in my life.
  • I don't agree with any of that. Swallows, cherries, and nautical symbols are trends because they are the "old school" style of tattoos. Since there are people who choose the rockabilly lifestyle, they choose tattoos that are old school because rockabilly is old school. It's difficult for people to understand if they don't follow the culture. People who get old school tats, yet have no idea of the stories or lore behind them are ridiculous.
  • i dig the punk and rockabilly scene, and i do see a lot of people with the swallows tattoos, and yeah i have them myself, not because of the scene, but because my family's name is swallows, i love my family and i love my ink.
  • Simply: It's trendy. In the 90's everyone was getting barbed wire armbands and butterflies on their ankles. Now everyone is getting cupcake tattoos and retro-style anchors/swallows/nautical stars. You can try to attach some sort of meaning to it but it all comes down to the current trends.
Tattoos and Body Art
Leopards and Panthers

What does a leopard scratch tattoo symbolize?

Strike,too kill one in 4

Tattoos and Body Art

What was tattooed on the brothers hands in boondock saints?

The tattoo that Connor has on his left hand/index finger says, "VERITAS," which is Latin for "Truth." Murphy also has a tattoo in the same place but on his right hand, that says, "AEQUITAS," which is Latin for "Justice/Equality."

Tattoos and Body Art

Does sky ferreira have tattoos?

Yes, she has a tattoo of a cross on her fore arm and her tear drop on the inside of her index finger and I also think she has a tattoo of a crown type thing on the side of her neck near her hear in the video "one"

Tattoos and Body Art
Online Shopping

Where did Kat Von D get those little studded finger gloves that she wears on LAink?

You Can get the mostly anywhere.Try Lazena Girl or tatto clothing stores would likely have them.

Tattoos and Body Art

What does the shark tattoo in hawaiian mean?

Polynesians also considered the shark to be a sacred animal. For them, the shark tattoo served to protect them from their enemies. A Polynesian fisherman would also sport tattoo symbols to protect him and his vessel from sharks in the waters where he fished. In Hawaii, you'll hear about the protective power of the aumakua, a row of tattooed dots around the ankle that keep sharks at bay. Legend tells of a woman swimming in the ocean and being attacked by a shark -- until it saw the tattoo. It let go and promised it wouldn't happen again!

Tattoos and Body Art
Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings

Why does a dove symbolize hope?

a dove symbolixe hope because in christian religon noah sent a dove with an

Olive branch that was first seen By Noah after 40 days and 40 nights during the Great flood. It symbolized hope as it lead them to believe that land was close by and their ordeal was near to being over , and when jesus was and a dove decended on Jesus head at the time of his babtisim.also

peace and tranquility

Tattoos and Body Art

How do you give a tattoo with just a needle and ink from a pen?

Pen ink won't stick in ur skin. Your body will push it out and the little bit that does stick will fade and look like crap. You can buy tattoo ink and put a staple/paper clip/needle that is sharpened and dip it in the ink and poke it into the skin a dot at a time. Hence the name pick and poke. If you aren't in prison there is no reason to do it like that. You can buy a real tattoo gun for a few hundred dollars or make one with a motor from radio shack for about $10, another prison method. Your best bet is get it done by a professional so you don't hate yourself later. Just my opinion.

New answer

Your skin will only end up rejecting the ink. Pen ink can be toxic to the skin. Save up some money (or wait until you're 18) and get it done professionally or end up with scared skin if you try to do it your self.

Tattoos and Body Art

How many tattoos does drake have?

Drake the rapper doesn't have none yet.

Tattoos and Body Art
Celebrity Relationships

Why did kat von d fire pixie acia?

Pixie wasnt doing her job correctly and had an argument with Kim Saigh, Kim said Just Do Your Job Probably Pixie , And then Pixie flipped out and said Dont F***in Start With Me ,

New answer

In the end Pixie wasn't doing her job. She was supposed to keep the tattooers supplied with what they needed, they were constantly running out of things that Pixie was supposed to take care of, or she ordered the wrong things. Also she was constantly fooling around and doing embarassing things infront of customers.

Parenting and Children
Tattoos and Body Art

Symbols of fatherhood?

Yes, there are several universal symbols for father. many of the symbols for father can be viewed on the offical universal family flag and the universal symbol for father.

Tattoos and Body Art

Does it mean anything when a koi fish is swimming up or down on a tattoo?

Direction of a Koi TattooHere are opinions and input from FAQ Farmers on whether the direction of the koi fish is significant:
  • SOMEONE ACTUALLY SAID THIS: "Yes - when a koi is swimming up on a tattoo it means that the person is either very sexual and/or homosexual. If the koi is swimming down it means the person is either wanting to give or receive oral (based on if it is a man or woman that has the tattoo)." I have a traditional koi fish tattooed on the side of my stomach. It does not in any way, shape, or form, represent being horny, or being gay, or wanting to preform/receive oral sex. I actually laughed out loud when reading this answer. This is a perfect example of why you should not go to a site to find the symbolism of a tattoo. A tattoo is whatever it means to you. Many traditional tattoos do have historical symbolism, such as the koi fish, but in all reality the symbolism is unique to every person - or just isn't there. However, I am very, very, very sure that there is in no way enough of a belief that koi fishes mean you're horny to be it's "symbolism." I'm going to take an educated guess and say that every single one of the answers below will answer your question with 2938592859 times more reliability than the above quoted answer.
  • My best friend has a koi fish tattoo. She's half-Japanese and she says that if the koi is swimming down, it means that you're trying to overcome hardships and if it's swimming up, you have already overcome them.
  • It would make more sense if it were the opposite. Up = Overcoming Hardships (example - swimming upstream in a battle against the current). Down = accomplished the goal (example - swimming downstream...finally succeeding through the hardship). This is my vote. *edit* I would like to disagree, i believe that if the koi is swimming upstream it has gained strength (by overcoming hardships) and can tackle the wheight of the current. If the koi is swimming downstream then it has not yet gained the strength to swim against the current rendering it weaker.
  • According to Japanese legend, if a koi succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called 'Dragon Gate on the Yellow River' it would be transformed into a dragon. Based on that legend, it became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.
  • There aren't any specific or concrete meanings for certain tattoo symbols. For example: A cross to some may be just be a cross. But to others, there's a religious meaning. Remember, sometimes a rose is just a rose. It doesn't mean or symbolize anything!
  • Actually, in traditional Eastern tattooing, especially the Japanese art of Horimono, the symbolism is important in the direction of travel of the koi and the items with it in the water or subsequent background. The koi that has been surrounded by late season fauna such as maple leaves, etc. and is pointed downwards is intended to denote the fall. A koi pointing upwards surrounded by cherry blossoms or other early blossoming things denotes the spring. You'll note that many fish travel those directions up and down rivers and streams based on those pesky seasonal changes.
  • As a general rule you almost never want to get a tattoo that faces towards your back. If you notice almost all of the arm or side tattoos that you will see will be facing the front. There is always an exception. Whether the fish is swimming up or down I am not sure. But really it doesn't matter what it means to anyone else, just what it means to you.
  • There is some confusion about the legend of the Koi swimming up the waterfall at the dragon gate on the yellow river. I have heard both that it is Chinese and that it is Japanese. I'm not sure which, perhaps both. *edit: Koi do originate from China and were later introduced to Japan in the 1800s. So, I see why there would be mixed messages.*

- Koi's swimming downstream are considered bad luck. The legend is a koi swimming upstream turns into a dragon. It is good luck.

as far as upstream vs. down

upstream means that you are still fighting or struggling

downstream means that your hardships have been overcome and no longer fighting the current

also if there is a dragon incorporated into your tat it signifies that the dragons gate falls have been successfully achieved also meaning that you have achieved your goals or overcome your hardships

traditional ink holds to this criteria, however most who now get this tat just go with what they think looks cool and forget about the meanings of what they get.

i have a koi backpiece and hold true to the traditional and laugh at some people who have chosen colorwise, whiskers, and other elements incorporated into their ink because they sometimes don't realize how screwed up the meaning of it is

the direction of the koi, being toward the head or toward the foot is not as important as the direction of the water it is in... the koi facing up stream, regardless of the directionality toward the head or foot is a sign of determination and endurance.. the continuing battle to overcome adversity... the koi facing down stream does not signify failure and giving up.. it is a sign peace with tranquility.. the same way fish gather in still water to feed.. i hope this helps..

History of Maritime
Tattoos and Body Art
Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings

What is the symbolism of a nautical star tattoo?

The nautical star symbolizes "finding one's way". It shall help you find your own path in life.


The symbolism of the nautical star does not mean to find your own path in life. I can see how people might think that and it sounds OK I guess. The real symbolism of the nautical star comes from sailors when cellestial navigation, with cellestial charts, first started being used. Nautical star tattoos, only two, were place on your chest. They were there to help guide you on your way back home and, the main reason, to make sure that you would never be lost at sea. The reason for this is because it takes two stars to plot a course and get a fixed postition, which is also combined with the sun line also. You do this with a sexton, its called "SHOOTING THE STARS". Well I hope that this right answer helped everyone out who wants to know. If anyone has any other questions about the symbology of MARINER TATTOOS or just wants to know about other superstitious sailor tattoos just hit me up, I know a lot about it. I'd be glad to help. Also I am a Merchant Mariner with a 1600 TON OCEANS MASTER LICENSE.

Tattoos and Body Art

Does an eye tattoo hurt? moran. Do u really think that have a needle getting jabbed repeatedly in your eye wouldn't hurt?


If you mean getting the eyeball tatooed, it is done very differently to any other tattoo. The ink is usually injected under the layer of skin: The sclera is visible as the white area of the eye. It is composed of connective tissue that forms a protective layer around the eye. A thin layer of tissue, known as the episclera, covers the front part of the sclera, followed by a transparent layer known as the conjunctiva. Any of these layers can become inflamed.

The eye itself doesn't have any nerves, and therefore it won't hurt. However, it will cause pain as the eye can inflame (swell) During healing, there is a feeling of something stuck in your eye as well as some redness. Primary healing takes about a week, a similar time to a normal tattoo.

Eyeball tattooing carries with it significant risks up to and including blindness and life-threatening complications.

BME is a VERY good site to get more info about this:

'the eyeball tattoo faqs' is the article you want, though you'll have to google it as I cannot add links

Tattoos and Body Art
Body Piercing
Self Help

What household objects can substitute for a zero gauge earring?

No household object is an entirely safe substitute for a plug or tunnel. The best plan would be to use a smaller sized plug/tunnel wrapped in teflon (PTFE) tape to the appropriate size. Alternatively any sort of pipe/tube (pen lids can often be the right size) wrapped in teflon tape will work just fine in the short term.


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