The swallow and bluebird tattoos are designs that show the enduring popularity of nautical themed tattoo art. Traditionally the swallow is a tattoo that a sailor gets after traveling 5000 nautical miles at sea.
After a long, often dangerous journey at sea, the sighting of land birds, which the blue bird (or swift/swallow) represents, was seen as good luck. When a sailor had logged 5,000 miles at sea he would get a bluebird on one side of his chest. After logging 10,000 miles he would get a second bluebird tattooed on the other side! A pair of bluebirds is the sign of the well traveled.
Bluebird Tattoos - The bluebird is a nautical tattoo with a long maritime history going back more than a century. Some people believe that the bluebird is actually supposed to represent a swift.
Often a swallow is the "first sign that land is near". To a sailor the swallow means a "safe return home". Swallows are known to travel far distances out to sea during migration and would rest on boats close to shore which gave early mariners the first sign that land was close by. Swallows also return home every year, no matter where they are, a source of comfort for sailors far from home.
Swallow tattoos are also associated with loyalty and fidelity - swallows choose a mate for life, and will only nest with that bird and no other. In Japan, it can be a symbol of unfaithfulness. Some legends warn of a swallow flying through the house, since it brings tidings of displeasure from the gods, and likely foreshadows bad luck. In China it symbolizes daring, danger and a change for good in the future.
Below you will find a gallery of inspirational images that will help you in your quest of creating the perfect swallow or bluebird tattoo.