What does a sparrow tattoo mean and how does its position change its meaning? Check out some awesome tattoos ideas while getting the answers.
Wildlife makes up the focal points of tattoos all over the world. From strong tigers to snakes, there are so many animals within the most popular tattoo ideas.
Another branch of the animal kingdom that also makes a frequent appearance in tattoos are birds, most notably eagles and swans – but also sparrows.
Whether it is your first tattoo or your tenth, sparrows can make an exceptional tattoo design and they can be personalized to give off the message you want it to. These tattoos have a rich history among seaman, sailors and the general public.
Here you can learn the meaning of sparrow tattoos, their history and different places that people get them. All of this information will help you come up with a unique sparrow idea that is personal and looks great.
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Table of Contents
The History of Sparrow Tattoos
Sparrow tattoos have an interesting history. Many tattoos are believed to have started within sailing circles, and the sparrow tattoo is another one of those.
The sparrow tattoo was a sign that sailors have amassed a lot of sailing experience.
One sparrow tattoo indicated that the sailor had been a part of voyages covering 5,000 nautical miles and some sailors had two sparrow tattoos, meaning they had traveled twice as far by vessel.
This idea has been carried on somewhat in military groups, such as the British Royal Navy. Some of these soldiers would choose to get sparrow tattoos after a successful stint with the navy when returning home to the family.
This also plays on one of the other meanings of a sparrow, i.e. that they always return home (discussed below!).was also believed that if a sailor was to die at sea by drowning, the sparrow would fly their soul up to heaven.
This is also why sparrow tattoos in sailing groups were often positioned on the chest of the sailor. A sparrow chest tattoo may not be placed there for these reasons today but those with nautical backgrounds may have tried to keep this tradition.
Recommended Article: Read all about chest tattoos in our big guide.
Today, sparrow tattoos have flown beyond the waves of sailing boats and are a popular type of tattoo among students, young professionals and even the elderly.
The connotations to sailing have been shrugged off with many new meanings and symbols. The detail of these sparrows has also improved due to better tattooing equipment and more talented artists.
What Does a Sparrow Tattoo Mean?
The sparrow tattoo may have been a symbol of distance covered by sea once upon a time but today the sparrow tattoo has other meanings as well.
One of the most popular is to do with the fact that sparrows will mate for life. Consequently, the sparrow tattoo is used to mean commitment and loyalty to a lover.
Some other meanings of a sparrow tattoo include:
- Sparrows are also known to return home no matter what, and this is taken to create another meaning for sparrow tattoos, such as always getting through hardship or a tough period in life.
- Sparrows alike many other birds are social creatures and live in groups. For this reason, sparrow tattoos are also used to indicate family love and bonding.
- Some prisoners have been said to get sparrow tattoos to show liberty and state that they are not guilty.
The position and other components of the sparrow tattoo can give an indication to what type of meaning the sparrow has. The meanings can be vastly different, so sparrow tattoos need to be analysed carefully to understand what they represent.
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Why Get a Sparrow Bird Tattoo?
The many meanings behind sparrow tattoo designs make them a great choice for different people with different personalities and life experiences.
This opens up the sparrow tattoo to more people, but it is not the only reason to choose a sparrow design. Here are some more:
- They can be placed in many different parts of the body easily
- The designs can be small, large, simplistic or extremely realistic – satisfying all tattoo preferences!
- They work well on both men and women
Despite all of these reasons to choose a tattoo with a sparrow in it, always make sure you are 100% sure that the sparrow and its specific design is something you love – tattoo removal hurts!
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The Meanings of Different Sparrow Tattoo Designs
There are countless sparrow tattoo designs, but some are more common than others.
Flying sparrows, perched sparrows, and two sparrows together are all popular sparrow tattoo designs. These three different designs can mean different things.
A flying sparrow is a symbol of overcoming a difficult period because the sparrow has raised up.
These flying designs also usually have spread wings which can be interpreted as a way for someone to spread their own wings on a new adventure.
A milestone or cornerstone moment in life usually fits the flying sparrow tattoo design well.
Perched sparrow tattoos are some of the hardest to understand because the meaning is subtle. Yet, more often than not people choose a perched sparrow design to signify happiness and contentment.
If a sparrow is sat on a branch, it means that the sparrow does not have an impulse to fly away and is happy.
The inclusion of a branch for the sparrow to perch on also adds a little more detail to the overall design. The same meaning can be extracted from a lying sparrow tattoo.
A Pair of Birds
Earlier it was mentioned that sailors with two sparrows together indicated 10,000 nautical miles traveled.
However, in modern times this meaning has been overtaken by another one. Two sparrows together or a sparrow with another bird is usually a symbol of love. The two together easily show their love for each other.
Some people creatively get one half of a branch with a sparrow on it, and their partner will get the other half of a branch with the other sparrow on it, collectively making a tattoo with two sparrows.
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What Does the Sparrow Positioning Signify?
Sparrow tattoos can be small or large. A small sparrow tattoo enables the tattoo to be placed almost everywhere on the body from the wrist and ankle, to further up the limbs or the torso, neck or back.
These types of tattoos are not often as large as others because the sparrow itself is a small bird. Large tattoos of sparrows will usually include many other aspects and elements such as trees and foliage or other wildlife.
Just like the design and animation of the sparrow, the position you choose to place the sparrow also signifies different things. For example, a sparrow tattoo placed on the back of the hand is common in the UK and Russia.
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These positions are meant to be a reminder to stay on track and have been a common choice amongst prisoners to help them stop reoffending.
Another example is placing two sparrows near the heart to emphasize the love and loyalty meaning behind one of these tattoos.
Use this information to design your own sparrow tattoo and create beautiful ink!