Madonna and Child - This is a more traditional variation on the Madonna theme. In this depiction Mary, Mother of God is seen holding baby Jesus.
Male Symbol - This is depicted as a circle with a cross pointing upwards.
Maltese Cross - This cross originated in the Malta Supreme Military Hospital. It is an eight pointed cross with each point symbolizing the qualities of a knight. The cross is also used by the Order of Knights Templar.
Mandala - A mandala literally means circle in Sanskrit. It is a common symbol in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It can take on a myriad of forms and variations and is a symbol of contemplation.
Man's Ruin - Man's ruin is depicted as a lady sitting in a glass with cards in the background, money and dice. It is these four things, alcohol, loose women, money and gambling that can lead to man's ruin. It has always been a popular tattoo choice and because of its classic appearance shows no sign of ever fading in popularity.
Measure of Man - This is a well known painting by Leonardo De Vinci. It is a depiction of a nude man in a large circle and rectangle showing the reach of outstretched arms and legs in two different positions. It was used in a space probe sent out years ago so that if extra terrestrials discovered it would understand the basic physical structure on mankind.
Medicine Shield - This is a Native American shield which is circular in shape with feathers attached and is used for protection.
Medusa - Medusa is depicted as a lady with piercing eyes and snakes for hair. In myths she could turn a man to stone with one look. She is a character that strikes fear into many.
Mermaids - The mermaid is half fish and half female. In mythology, the mermaid would either lure men to their death by drowning or would conversely rescue men from the same fate. As tattoos they can be symbols of temptation or depicted almost as pin up girls.
Mickey Mouse - This is the quintessential Disney character and as such a popular tattoo choice for those who want to retain links to happy childhood memories.
Moon - This is our closest heavenly neighbor and is often associated with the feminine aspect or nature. It can symbolize change and it is responsible for the movement of the tides and also linked to the female monthly cycle. It can take on many forms such as the crescent moon, harvest moon, killing moon or blue moon with individual meanings associated with each.
Motorcycles - The image of the motorcycle will probably never lose its appeal. Motorcycle tattoos, once the preserve of biker gangs, now seem to be requested by those not necessarily considered 'bikers'. As tattoos, there are many different varieties from the 'Hot Rod'; with a scantily clad girl on top, to the Harley Davidson ridden by a skeleton even Lambretta scooters and every other type of bike in between.
Musical Notes - These can take on any variation of a musical note. As tattoos they are usually done by people who are musicians or who have a deep love of music.
Nautical Star - The nautical star is a common style of tattoo even though its meanings and origins are unclear. It is a five pointed star with one half of each point in shade. It can mean a 'lucky return'.
Niho Mano - This is a Hawaiian symbol shown as opposing lines of pyramids that takes on the appearance of teeth of a shark. It is traditionally worn by males as an armband.
Nuclear Radiation - This is an internationally recognized symbol warning of the danger of nuclear radioactivity. Its use of a tattoo can mean serve as a 'warning' to others not to get to close.
Octopus - Octopus can be depicted as fearful or as a passive almost feminine creature. As such it is more common for women than men to get tattooed with an octopus.
Omega - This is the last symbol in the Greek alphabet but can also mean 'the end of all things'.
Oni - This is a horned devil in Japanese tradition and a popular style of tattoo.
Orchid - Orchids are a popular choice of floral tattoo mainly because of its beauty and its rich associations.
Osiris - King of ancient Egypt and often depicted as a mummy holding a staff. He was the god of fertility but also linked with the afterlife.
Owl - Owls are a popular choice of bird tattoo because of their hypnotic eyes and wisdom.
Padlock - This is a perennial style of tattoo that has never really faded. It is usually depicted with hearts and is meant to suggest that only one person can unlock the wearer's heart or there is only one true love.
Panther - Panthers are fierce creatures and as such are worn by people who like to portray an image of strength and courage.
Parrot - Parrots have always held a special place with people because of their bright colors, intelligence and ability to speak in some cases. As tattoos they have always been popular because of their vivid colors.
Pegasus - This is a legendary Greek creature shown as a white horse with wings. It has many associations with agility and the spirit world.
Pentagram - This is a five pointed star which has connections with magic and witchcraft. It is used as a form of protection by those who practice the craft and in its inverted form is a symbol of evil.
Phoenix - A mythological bird that is rich in meaning in quite a few different cultures. It is most known for its ability to rise from the ashes, and is a symbol of death and rebirth into immortality.
Pierced Heart - A quintessential symbol of being in love. Shot from the arrow of Cupid it can suggest penetration and physical love too.
Pirate Ship - This is a ship flying the black flag with skull and crossbones. It is a common tattoo in the old and new school varieties because of its bold outlines.
Playboy Bunny - The well known logo of Playboy magazine has been adopted by many who have probably never even read Playboy. It symbolizes the eroticism.
Popeye - Popeye is the famous sailor cartoon character which has been around since the late 1920's. Popeye has come to be a popular tattoo ever since, because of his associate with strength, fighting and saving Olive Oyl.
Praying Hands - This is a well known image in Christianity as it associates with communication with God.
Pyramids - One of the wonders of the world build by the ancient Egyptians. They have become popular as tattoos for their link with ancient wisdom and connection with the past.
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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