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.

In the interest of research and as an ongoing barometer of popular tattoo culture we have decided to provide you with a monthly update of the Top Ten Tattoo Design Searches on this site. You can access the archived lists through the drop down menu below or on the Top 10 Archive page.

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 and designs1. Star Tattoos - another top ten tattoo design favorite, seen on a growing constellation of celebrities. I'm a star, I'm a star - get it!

Stars are often encountered as symbols, and many cases the meaning of a particular star symbol may depend upon the number points it has, and sometimes the orientation of these points as well. As a light shining in the darkness, the star is often considered a symbol of truth, of the spirit and of hope. The symbol of the star embodies the concept of the divine spark within each of us. Their nocturnal nature leads stars to represent the struggle against the forces of darkness and the unknown.

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).

Polynesian tattoos and designs2. 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 tribal heartMaori 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.

Cross tattoos and designs3. 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".

See kanji or Chinese Characters, but perhaps a tattoo design that represents a symbol of strength might be a bear, or something that reminds you of your father or your mother or of your best friend. It could be the Koi fish that swims up the waterfall to become a dragon, a knight on a quest, or the first flower bud of spring.

Angel tattoo meanings5. 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.

Wing tattoosWings 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.

Butterfly tattoo designs6. 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.

Love tattoos7. Love Tattoo Symbolism - The ever popular love tattoo symbol covers an entire rather large genre of tattoo designs including these ever popular expressions of love and devotion... more

meanings of crown tattoos designs symbols8. 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.

As a tattoo symbol, the crown doesn't just mean the right of one person to command another. It symbolizes and individual's sovereignty over their own life, feelings, thoughts, and actions. The crown symbolizes self-control, and is a reminder to use power and authority wisely and justly.

Dragon tattoo designs9. 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.

Phoenix tattoo meanings10. 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

Alphabetical Listing of Tattoo Symbols & Designs

Tattoo Tribe Clothing and products inspired by classic tattoo designs and quotes.

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