Queen - Not as popular a tattoo symbol as the king in a suit of cards. Although can represent the feminine energy but sometimes associated with gay men as in 'queens'.
Rabbit - Rabbits have many meanings from fertility to renewal. In Chinese astrology people born in The Year of the Rabbit are good communicators and ambitious.
RIP - Rest in Peace is an epitaph on a grave. As a tattoo it is quite common either as a memory of a deceased person or in the fantasy style of tattoo art depicting grisly scenes.
Rock of Ages - This symbolizes a woman clinging to a cross or headstone with a banner below with the inscription 'Rock of Ages'. She can either be seen on a rocky outcrop or amongst flowers as is meant on a scene of a shipwreck. As such, is a common tattoo amongst sailors and also as a religious tattoo.
Rooster - Roosters have many associations in Chinese astrology and in Western beliefs. For instance sailors used to get tattoos of roosters as they were known to not be able to swim so would want to get back to the relative safety of dry ground. They have also been known to be proud and fighting birds. In Chinese they are considered to be intellectual, while Buddhists associate them with passion.
Rose - Roses are probably the quintessential flower in the West and a VERY popular form of tattoo.
Red roses can mean love, romantic love, and respect.
White roses signify spiritual love, purity, innocence or secrecy. Bridal white means happy love.
Yellow roses signify joy, gladness, friendship and devotion.
Coral roses imply desire.
Light peach roses signify modesty or friendship Orange roses say fascination.
Light pink roses imply grace, gentility and admiration.
Dark pink roses say "thank you." Red and yellow roses mixed together can mean congratulations
Yellow and orange roses together imply passionate thoughts.
Red and white roses signify unity
Sacred Heart - The Sacred Heart is one of the most popular forms of tattoos. It is representative of Jesus' heart and his divine love for all things. There are many variations of this symbol, some depicting the flames of passion and others still being depicted realistically almost like a real heart.
Sailors - Once common tattoos amongst Navy men. Usually depicted wearing the white sailor uniform and cap.
Sailor Girl - Classic pin up style tattoo. Wearing a sailors uniform but with a low cut top showing an ample bosom.
Sailor's Grave - Old school tattoo done to remember fellow Navy men lost in battle at sea. It is depicted as an anchor or 'lifesaver' being held by an American Bald Eagle with a banner inscribed 'Sailor's Grave'.
Samurai - Ancient Japanese warriors known for their discipline and swordsmanship. They were also noted for their honor choosing to commit suicide instead of submitting. It is a popular form of tattoo in the Japanese tradition and can be part of a full 'suit' covering the entire body depicting war scenes.
Scorpion - The scorpion is a deadly creature and can kill a human being very quickly. It is associated with revenge because of its nature. Even still it is a very popular form of tattoo even amongst those not born under its astrological sign.
Sea Horse - The Sea Horse is a very unusual looking sea creature that has many associations. As a tattoo it can mean numerous things from the strength of the horse and ruler of the sea.
Shamrock - This small clover like plant is associated with the Celtic people of Ireland where it was believed to be a sacred plant. St Patrick adopted it to denote the 'Holy Trinity' of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many wearer use shamrock tattoo as a lucky charm.
Skull - The skull is a recurrent theme in tattoos mainly because of its unique appearance. Skulls as tattoos can take many variations and meanings, the most common being “reborn or new beginning.”
Snake - Snakes are a recurring form of tattoo in may different styles from modern American tattoos to Chinese style tattoos. It is associated with renewal because of the snakes ability to shed its skin. The snake was also associated with knowledge and temptation in the Christian tradition. There are many different styles of snakes and can be depicted on their own, coiled around a sword or dagger (which is a medical symbol) or emerging from a skull.
Spider Web - In USA this is a tattoo that can symbolize a prison term. They are tattooed on the elbows and can also mean that the person sporting it has killed someone.
Spirals - This is a Celtic symbol found on the ancient burial tombs of the Celts in Ireland. They are thought to represent the three realms in the celtic belief system of the underworld, overworld and the world.
Star - The star is depicted in many different forms such as shooting star tattoos. They can also have many different meanings associated with them. A lot of people seem to be getting them because they express their inner desire to be a star. Shooting star tattoos can also symbolize a brief fleeting moment in ones life just like the brief wonder of seeing a shooting star race across the night sky. They can also be a symbol of reaching ones ultimate destiny.
Sun - The sun is a powerful symbol common amongst all cultures. It is rich in meaning and symbolism and is most commonly acknowledged as the 'giver of life' without which, all things would perish. As a tattoo it can be depicted in many different forms, from the sun with flames around it to a tribal style of Haida depiction with human-like face.
Sun and Moon - It can mean the interplay of opposites as in male and female, hot and cold, Yin and Yang. Both the sun and moon nourish us in different ways.
Sunflowers - Sunflowers are a common tattoo because of their striking appearance and bright yellow color. Many regard the sunflower as a happy tattoo.
Swallow - Swallows have always been a favorite tattoo amongst sailors because of their association with good luck, freedom and homecoming.
Sword - The sword has many connotations such as justice and virtue, but also danger. They have magical powers and often appear in myths and legends.
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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