Swallow tattoos that you can filter by style, body part and size, and order by date or score. read more
Swallow tattoos symbolize freedom, loyalty, care, affection, fidelity, love, hope, experience, working class pride, a successful journey, travel, homecoming, a safe return, and passage into heaven.
Of British origin in the early days of sailing and one of the most iconic nautical tattoos, swallows became a traditional design in the nineteenth century, when sailors' skin provided the canvas for the majority of early tattoos. By 1900, tattoo parlors existed in almost all major port cities and it was one of the most popular motifs among sailors.
There are lots of different legends about this iconic tattoo, but according to the most popular one, swallow tattoos were used historically by sailors to show off their sailing experience. Back in the day each swallow tattoo indicated that a sailor had sailed 5000 miles. It was usually the image of a Barn Swallow, usually inked on the chest.
Another popular legend says that the sailor would have one swallow tattooed before setting out on a journey, and the second swallow tattooed at the end of their tour of duty, upon return to their home port.
Swallow tattoos are also associated with the idea of returning home to nest. This symbolism is rooted in two ideas. First, the swallow always follows the same migration pattern, returning to the same location every year to mate and nest. The second ideas is that it was believed that if a sailor drowns, swallows carry his soul home to heaven.
Despite the different meanings that the swallow tattoos may have, they also share the meaning attached to all bird tattoos, and is that they are a perfect symbol of freedom.
Today, the symbol of the swallow can mean many different things around the world.