Swallow tattoos are a popular design that can have many different meanings all over the world. For a sailor the swallow tattoo was widely known as a status symbol. The swallow tattoos were meant to protect the sailor on their journey yet, others believed that if a sailor died at sea and had a swallow tattoo on their chest that it would fly their spirit to heaven. For this reason, swallow tattoos were a great comfort to sailors. The first swallow tattoo meant the sailor had traveled 5,000 miles and the second tattoo meant they had traveled 10,000 miles. Swallow tattoos are also a symbol of working-class pride, mostly in the UK. Swallow tattoos are also at times used in prison as a sign for "white power", a gang tattoo at times. Then again some freed prisoners get the swallow tattoo as a sign of freedom. Interestingly, both good luck and bad are attributed to the swallow. 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. But, when you come down to it only you can determine the meaning of your swallow tattoo.
Swallow tattoos are rich with history and symbolism all over the world. For thousands of people over the centuries, the little bird can be linked to health, wealth, loyalty, and the rigors of long distance travel, especially at sea. A symbol of hope for the return home, of loyalty to one’s family and home, of freedom, the swallow is a beautiful choice for a tattoo, whether or not you plan on spending your days out at sea. The swallow, as well as bluebirds and sparrows, has always had a symbolic meaning for sailors because, before modern navigation technology, these birds were usually the first sign that land was near. Another fact is that swallows return home every year, no matter where they are, thus symbolizing a safe journey home. But, one of the most impressive meanings of the swallow tattoo is fidelity. The swallow is a bird that chooses a mate for life. So, it’s only natural that it not only symbolizes a persons soul mate but also loyalty to the family. But, keep in mind tattoos mean different things to different people. Only you can decide how to explain the meaning behind your skin art, each has his or her own unique symbolic interpretation.