The migratory swallow is one of the cutest birds in existence. No one can deny its charming face or beautiful feathers, and they show up all the time in greeting cards or home decorations. How did such a cute bird end up becoming a masculine symbol of the Navy during World War II? We’ll learn all about that and more in today’s swallow tattoo picture gallery!
Related Article: Staggering Owl Tattoos
Sailor Jerry Swallow
An old school swallow tattoo looks cartoonish and, with poorly defined feathers, large eyes, and a bright red belly. These classic tattoos represent much more than a bird, though. Sailor Jerry, an iconic Hawaiian tattoo artist, created their style and innovated with his colorful designs. Sailors would stop in Hawaii and get themselves inked as a souvenir, and Jerry would award them with particular designs for different accomplishments.
Related Article: Eagle Tattoos
The turtle represented crossing over the equator, the rooster and pig meant good luck, and the iconic swallow meant the sailor had sailed 5000 miles. These birds winter in Africa, South Asia, and South America, and during the summer they take an incredible migration to Europe, Russia, North America, and the arctic wilderness. That’s why these birds also represent a return home. They usually flew over land, so a sailor would have good luck if he spotted one while at sea.
Swallow Bird Spiritual Meaning
Sailor Jerry made swallows popular, but the birds also have significant spiritual meaning. They carry the souls of sailors killed at sea to heaven. Their association with Summer makes them a symbol of life, prosperity, joy, and peace. Their amazing aerial acrobatics make them stylish and graceful tattoo designs. A spirit swallow tattoo reminds you to seek a peaceful end to any conflict. Some cultures used parts of the swallow as a form of medicine, since the bird is a protective entity. Don’t go out and kill a swallow for that, though! Killing one is very bad luck, and real medicine works just fine.
Swallow vs Sparrow Tattoo
Telling the difference between a swallow vs sparrow tattoo might prove tricky for you. Don’t worry, I’ll help you sort it out! The birds look almost exactly the same in black and white, and in color the swallow sometimes looks like a robin. The tail marks the difference between swallows and other types of birds. Swallows have long, trailing feathers on the edge of their tail, while sparrows have even tail feathers or tail feathers that peak in the middle of their tail.
These feathers help the swallow navigate and hunt in the middle of flying. They need to catch insects out of the air, so any acrobatic help they can get goes a long way! Some swallows have shorter and square forked tails. However, if the center tail feathers are shorter than the outer ones, you can be sure it’s a swallow!
Small Swallow Tattoos
Life-size swallow tattoo designs can fit on every part of your body. While you might be tempted to get one on your back or chest, don’t forget about the small areas of your body! Since your skin has a limited amount of canvas space, reserving large designs for your arms, legs, chest, and back can save you some trouble in the long run. Plus, few designs fit as well as the swallow onto these small areas! Here’s a list of some advantages for each little area:
- Swallow Tattoo on Wrist – You can hide the wrist area with clothing for formal occasions. This intimate location is only visible when your hand is upturned—which means that only your friends get to see it!
- Swallow Tattoo on Hand – People see your hands as an extension of your self, and when they see a tattoo there, they’ll know it means something important to you. This makes for an excellent conversation starter, and can help you share an important story of your life with total strangers!
- Swallow Tattoo on Neck – If humans were born with their names predetermined, those names would be written on the neck! The neck is both intimate and public, so a tattoo here screams ‘this is who I am!’ to anyone who sees the tattoo. You can learn more about neck tattoos in our recent article!
Interested in these lovely creatures yet? A swallow tattoo represents almost a hundred years of tattoo history. From Japanese artists to American sailors to European icons, these little birds have touched the hearts of people around the world! If you long for freedom, a return to the past, a unique identity, or a tribute to a loved one, then a sparrow tattoo is a good place to start. If you’re looking for more ideas than that, we have a thousand more ideas for you to explore at InkDoneRight!