All-Seeing Eye - The all-seeing eye is depicted as an eye surrounded by beams of light. Found in a number of different cultures. It can symbolize the third eye, extra sensory perception or spiritual insight. It’s also a symbol used to ward off evil spirits in other cultures.
Amulet - An amulet is a form of Talisman used to protect the wearer from harm whether physical or psychic. It is comes in many different forms depending on the culture. For example Egyptian amulets were represented by a scarab and in Europe a rabbit leg was carried for protection. Many people get amulets tattooed because of the permanence and constant closeness of the amulet.
Angels - Angels manifest in practically all cultures in some form or other and represent higher beings beyond the physicality of the material world. They are usually depicted as guardians, guides, protectors and intermediaries between this world and the higher dimensions.
Aztec Sun - The Aztecs believed that four suns were created in four different eras. The sun was believed to be the giver and taker of life and the Aztecs frequently sacrificed people to the gods of these four suns.
Barbed Wire - Also known as barbwire and was created to mark territory in the 1800's. It has come to symbolize more than the control of land and because of its use in prisons and such places has come to be associated with confinement.
Bat - The bat is generally seen as a negative symbol in the West but has the opposite meaning in the East where it is associated with good luck.
Bees - Bees can symbolize being industrious and working with a 'hive' mentality. The appearance can also mean being stung!
Birds - Symbolically birds have had many positive associations and can mean many things such as freedom, peace, longevity and spirituality. E.g. Swallows, doves and eagles.
Black Rose - This tattoo can represent sadness, tragedy and struggle.
Black Widow - The black widow can represent the female aspect as the female is known for eating the male after mating.
Bombs - The bomb with fuse attached has become a new school tattoo symbol and can mean impending danger & aggression.
Born to Ride - This is a popular biker tattoo worn by biker gang members and can be written above or below other biker symbols such as motorcycle logos or skulls.
Bulldog - This is a symbol that has been adopted by members of the US Marine Corp and goes back to World War 1.
British Bulldog - This is an image of a bulldog wearing a waistcoat and sporting a bowler hat, sometimes also shown smoking a cigar. In England it has become synonymous with extreme nationalism.
Butterfly - This is one of the most popular tattoos worn by women. Butterfly tattoos can mean several things such as beauty, metamorphosis, freedom, happiness and fragility. Many cultures have associated the butterfly with the soul.
Cards - Playing cards are a popular tattoo design that mean good luck and fate. They can be depicted as an Ace of Clubs or a King of Hearts.
Celtic Cross - Also known as the 'Wheel Cross' and owes it roots to early Christianity in Ireland. It has been adopted Chains - Mostly worn by those who have been to prison in Europe. But they can also depict freedom if they are depicted as broken.
Cherries - Cherry tattoos are a very popular tattoo design among females. There is something very feminine about cherry tattoos that has a certain allure and oozes sexuality and desire. This style of tattoo is done in a bright bold style. Even though a cherry is a widely used slang term for a woman's hymen. A cherry can also be a slang term for a virgin. In the West If you see cherries in your dream it can symbolize honesty and truthfulness or sweetness and good fortune. To see a cherry tree in your dream can represent luck, spring, femininity, and youth.
Cherubs - Although originally from Middle Eastern culture, they have been adopted by Westerners. They are usually depicted as children on clouds and can mean protection.
Chinese Dragon - For centuries, the Chinese dragon has been a symbol of power and mystery. The dragon has provoked man to fear and worship it. In medieval Europe, it was a bloodthirsty, fire-breathing figure. Its malevolence and ferociousness struck terror in all. However, in Asia, it is the contrary. The mighty dragon is a mythical beast long celebrated for its benevolence, intelligence and good will. The Chinese dragon has been a common symbol of identity for Far Eastern cultures. In fact, Chinese people all over the world are affectionately known as 'lung de chuan ren', or the "descendants of the dragon". There are several distinct species of Chinese dragons. The Horned Dragon is considered to be the mightiest. The Celestial Dragon supports the heavens and protects the Gods. The Earth Dragon rules all of the earth. The Spiritual Dragon controls the wind and rain. The Treasure Dragon is the keeper of precious metals and gems. The Yellow Dragon is a hornless dragon known for its scholarly knowledge
Chrysanthemum - These are very popular in the Japanese style of tattoos. They were originally associated with royalty, holy and can symbolize determination.
Clover - Otherwise known as four leaf clover or sometimes shamrock. The four leaf clover is very rare and is thus seen as a form of luck. In USA it has also been adopted by White Nationalists and Aryans as their logo.
Cobras - This is a common tattoo and can mean a 'charmer'. Snakes have also been associated with youth.
Comedy and Tragedy - Derived from Greek theater, depicted as a smiling mask alongside a sad mask..
Compass - A popular tattoo with 'travellers' and can mean guidance.
Cow Skull - This is a popular form of tattoo in the Native American tradition. It can remind those living of the impermanence of life.
Crossed Swords - These are associated with death and hearkens. They are associated with sailor style tattoos.
Crucifixion - Worn obviously by those of the Christian faith. Usually symbolize devotion and sacrifice.
Cupid - The god of love and is depicted as a naked winged boy with a bow and arrow being shot through a heart. It’s a positive symbol associated with love, being in love or yearning.
Here are the meaning and symbolism of many common tattoo motifs used all over the world. But please note that the meaning and symbolism of tattoo motifs will change over time and it may not be the same in different countries, cultures etc. Everybody is highly advise to double confirm the meaning and symbolism of their tattoo motifs with other reference materials before getting them tattooed.
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