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MONTHLY TOP 10 TATTOO DESIGNS & SYMBOLS
It has been fascinating
for us to see the public's keen interest in identifying the most
popular tattoo designs and symbols. In addition to our annual list of the
Top Twenty Five Tattoo Designs by Search Request, there have been a
lot of similar inquiries on other sites.
The Top 10 Tattoo Designs, based on site searches.
August is done and summer is winding down (in North America anyway). So what were people looking for in the month of August? Think, stars, tribal tattoos, angels, crosses, ...
Star Tattoos - another top ten tattoo design favorite, seen on a
growing constellation of celebrities. I'm a star, I'm a star -
Stars with a specific design have taken on an explicit meaning and symbolism on their own. Among the most well-know of these are the Pentagram (five-pointed star), the Nautical Star (five-pointed star), the Hexagram or Star of David (six-pointed star), all the way to the nonagram (nine-pointed star).
2. Tribal / Maori Tattoos - as popular as ever. Tribal tattoo designs, especially Maori and Polynesian designs, continue to be all the rage. The term "tribal" of course covers an astonishing array of tattoo design possibilities, from the traditional tribal tattoos of indigenous and aboriginal cultures, to the latest in graphic design for the body.
Maori tattooing is a distinct school of patterns and graphic designs within Polynesian tattooing. While much of Polynesian tattooing is derived from straight-line geometric patterns (and thought to originate with patterns found on ancient Lapita pottery shards such as have been discovered in Samoa), a design fact which rose in part because the traditional Polynesian tattoo combs are best suited to linear designs, Maori tattooing is essentially curvilinear, and the mainstay of Maori designs are based on the spiral. It should be noted that renowned traditional Hawaiian artist Keone Nunes has demonstrated that it is possible to reproduce complex curved designs using traditional Polynesian tattooing implements.
3. Cross / Crosses Tattoo - A perennial top ten favorite. The cross is a profound symbol of faith, hope, belief and sacrifice. Also a favorite design choice when wishing to memorialize a family member, friend or fallen comrade. And who do we think of most often at this time of year than the people we love and have loved and lost. A memorial tattoo is a way to help keep the memory of someone we cherished with us always.
One of the most ancient, widespread, and important symbols, the vertical and horizontal lines of the cross represent Father and Mother Nature respectively. Some of the cross' forms are the ank or tau, swastika or Thor's Hammer, crux ansata or cross with a handle, denoting power over material nature. The four arms of the cross represent the four elements, and its central point their synthesis or laya-point.
See also Religious Tattoos
4. Strength Tattoos - The searches for tattoo designs & symbols signifying "strength" have long been popular. A tattoo that would serve its wearer as a powerful amulet and talisman, a touchstone for personal virtue.
The popularity of searching for "tattoo design meanings..." has never been greater. Many of the searches in the Top Ten Tattoo Designs & Symbols are all interested in the meanings and symbolism to be found in specific tattoo designs. And while people are very much interested in great tattoo designs, most people want their tattoos to stand for something as important to them as "Strength, Family and Friendship", and
of course, "Love".
5. Angel/Wings - Angels are often used to evoke protection as potent symbols of God's presence and as an expression of one's faith.
As a tattoo design, an angel is a symbol of devotion, spirituality and faith and signifies a relationship with God. An angel can be intended as a figure of guidance and protection. An angel is often used as the centerpiece of a tattoo that is intended as a memorial.
Wings as a tattoo design can often have inspirational or spiritual symbolism. In many myths, wings often have to be earned by their wearer. Wings, often associated with birds, represent speed, elevation, freedom and aspiration.
Wings associated with angels are spiritual, symbolizing enlightenment, guidance and protection - to be taken under the wing - and inspirational.
Wings associated with butterflies, dragonflies, fairies, mythological winged creatures like dragons, griffins, and the winged-horse Pegasus, have an element of the magical about them. As in alchemy and magic, wings can be transformational, allowing an individual access to a previously unattainable state. The presence of wings allows the combination of different elements, earth and sky, wind and fire.
6. Butterfly Tattoo Designs - Another perennial top ten tattoo design. Its ranking shows the influence that women have in tattoo culture, as butterfly designs are an overwhelmingly feminine tattoo choice.
The butterfly, because of its short life, its physical beauty, and its fluttering from flower to flower seeking nectar, has among many ancient peoples been regarded as an emblem of the impermanent, unstable characteristics of the lower human soul. The caterpillar lives its period, making for itself a chrysalis, which after a stage of dormancy is broken by the emerging butterfly. This suggests the idea of the less becoming the greater, of an earthy entity becoming aerial. These thoughts led the ancient Greeks to use the butterfly as a symbol of the human soul (psyche); and in their mythology Psyche was in consequence represented in art with butterfly wings.
8. Crown Tattoos - As a symbol, the crown also symbolizes leadership, and the rightful authority which comes from being elected by a group to serve as their leader.
Many groups have used the crown to symbolize the power and authority
to lead or command. When it is combined with a cross, one of the
meanings of the crown is "victory," and the cross symbolizes
Christianity. Many Royal crowns in Europe incorporated the Christian
Cross into their design, reinforcing the Monarch's claim that their
right to the throne was a divine right and that the Monarch was
guided by the hand of God.
9. Dragon Tattoos - The dragon is a classic tattoo motif, popular with both men and women. As a tattoo design the dragon shows the profound influence that Japanese and Chinese culture have had in Western tattooing for nearly two centuries. In the Far East, the dragon represents the Four Elements - Earth, Wind, Fire and Water - and the four points of the compass - East, West, North and South - and dragons are simultaneously a symbol of Water, Earth, Underworld and Sky. The dragon is a culturally far-ranging character whose apparent bad temper should be interpreted as simply amoral, neither good nor evil. The forces of nature are not human-hearted, representing as they do the cycle of life and death, followed again by birth and renewal. Natures nurtures and nature destroys. So too, does the dragon.
10. Phoenix - the legendary mythological bird of fire, is probably the most popular of all the rebirth and resurrection symbols. There are stories and fables that touch on the Phoenix myth in the ancient Middle East, India, China and the Greek and Roman Empires.
For more great tattoo design ideas, see our good friends at TattooJohnny.com
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