Swallow Tattoo

Swallow Tattoo

Uncover hidden superstitions meanings

Are you thinking of having a swallow tattoo? Do you know someone who has one? Wondered what the spiritual meaning of a swallow tattoo means?

Well, I have been contacted by many people with a gorgeous swallow tattoo or considering this pattern…and they wish to know the symbolic spiritual meaning. More specifically why some people rock this tattoo and this question intrigued me to investigate through my many spiritual books. If you are wondering what it means then read on. You may wish to think about this before you stamp that tattoo on your arm! The most popular spiritual meaning of this tattoo is travel.

You probably already checked out other meanings online, in short, the swallow tattoo is used by sailors to communicate the amount of sailing experience and safe return to land. This originates from British navy folklore. According to ancient stories, sailors had ink of the swallow tattooed on their hands, neck, and chest.

The first thing I will say is that a swallow tattoo is a quite popular design across the world because of its symbolism. A swallow tattoo signifies travel, fidelity, and loyalty.In order to understand the symbol, I need to go way back to ancient folklore. If a sailor has only one swallow tattoo, it means he traveled around 5000 nautical miles. At 10,000 miles, a sailor would add a second swallow tattoo. Why? Because there is folklore that swallow tattoos would create luck in finding land when needed and signify the port.

The swallow tattoo sometimes has nautical stars, which means “coming home.” I mentioned before the most popular areas for this tattoo but, a sailor normally has a swallow tattooed on opposite sides of the chest in order to denote that he was experienced, and of course, good luck. In Austria and Estonia, this bird announces Spring and they associate it with change, a fresh start and a new life. The tattoo is also a symbol of peaceful times and joy.

Swallow tattoo design

There are over 50 swallow tattoo designs, I have mentioned some above. I will represent only the most popular ones, starting with the swallow tattoo with a compass. As I mentioned, a swallow bird is a traveler. Meaning, it migrates from one place to another in order to avoid the coldness. Usually, the compass in this design shows west and indicates that the bird is going west. People who have this tattoo stamped on their bodies indicates they’re ready for a change and when they’re ready to travel the world in order to escape something. The second tattoo I will briefly mention is the swallow tattoo on both wrists, which means two people taking a journey together. The symbolism of this tattoo is associated with the birds traveling together as a flock. Not only that it looks cool but it’s also the best placement for a swallow tattoo is important. The third popular tattoo is the swallow tattoo in the arms with traditional color.

Swallow tattoo color meanings

Colors of the tattoo are also important. The swallow tattoo in red and black that symbolizes adventure and distinction. The blue swallow tattoo on the shoulders is also popular and trendy because of the bright colors. The traditional black and white swallow tattoo associated with the person’s experience in sailing. This is one of the traditional swallow tattoos. The unique blue swallow tattoo is a sign that land is near and it was important to marines before modern times. There’s a colorful swallow tattoo with flowers often associated with springtime and flowers blooming. There’s a swallow bird tattoo that has lightning that’s extraordinary but beautiful. It symbolizes the part of a journey when you endure different circumstances and return home safe and sound. Some people go for a shoulder swallow tattoo with quotes of their choice. It represents adventure and living your life to the fullest while exploring the world.

Swallow tattoo on hand

Besides travel, loyalty, and fidelity, a swallow tattoo is believed to bring financial success. In some cultures, if you want to become wealthy, you have to rub two coins together once you see a swallow bird. A tiny swallow tattoo on hands represents power in fighting. Not like fighting with another person but with life itself. This is not negative as it symbolizes strength. Some people yield a swallow tattoo on their hand to represent the safe return home after a long journey.


Another popular symbolism of a swallow tattoo is freedom. Some people who’ve been to prison, choose to get a swallow tattoo as a symbol of re-entering society. Some say that a swallow tattoo on both hands indicates unconditional love and loyalty because of the fact that this bird mates for life. If an older person has a swallow tattoo on their hands, it represents his/her power and strength. Back in time, men had swallow tattoos on their hands to symbolize their speed, strength, and viciousness. In Australia and England, a swallow tattoo on hands stands for “these fists fly” or fast fists.

Swallow tattoo on wrist

As I have mentioned before, back in the day, sailors would apply one swallow tattoo before they hit the sea, and one more tattoo after they got back home. It was also believed that if a sailor drowns, the swallows he has on his body will take his soul to heaven. This is one of the many reasons why sailors yield swallow tattoos everywhere on their body, including wrists, neck, and chest. A swallow tattoo represents hope, freedom, care, and affection toward friends and family. I have mentioned before that a swallow tattoo on the wrist or both wrists are the most popular one today, it symbolizes the common flying of the swallow birds or unity.

What is the traditional swallow tattoo?

The traditional historical swallow tattoos date back hundreds of years and the trend started with sailors. When a crew sailed a long distance on the sea, approximately 5,000 nautical miles, there was sickness, hardship, starvation and even death. In ancient times swallows signified that land was near. This is why sailors got swallow tattoos at first place because they represented hope and successful finish to their journey.

Daggers and swallow tattoos:

A swallow tattoo with a dagger through its heart represents the loss of a friend at sea. The traditional 2 swallows tattooed on their body would symbolize a long journey, around 10,000 nautical miles or more. There’s a legend saying that swallow tattoos represent a symbol of mutiny that was connected to the ship “The Swallow.” All of the 7 sailors in the story had swallow bird tattooed on their chest to show their revolt.

As time passes, this tattoo gained a different symbolism to different people. Some apply a swallow tattoo to their body in order to mark success and triumph, while others decide to get one in order to mark the safe return home after a long journey, like for example the return of a soldier after going to war. Most people associate this tattoo with freedom and travel.

What does a swallow tattoo on the neck mean?

Sailors would often tattoo a swallow on their neck in order to represent his love and respect for his family and friends. This tattoo also symbolizes hope and successful finish of a long journey. Sailors would apply a swallow tattoo on their neck in order to mark a certain number of miles spend on the sea. It was a symbol of pride and success. From all this folklore, one can conclude that tattoos not only look great but have ancient meanings too. And, this is positive and encouraging that the tattoo lives on through our modern world.

Religious swallow meaning

The swallow is connected to Christ, this is the reason in religious terms it appears in many different religious artwork such as nativity and also the annunciation scenes. In ancient artwork we often see the swallow nesting under the eaves or hiding away from others this is because the swallow is supposed to hibernate within mud during winter. From a symbolic viewpoint this swallow represents restriction and also power. According to bible verses, the swallow was swift and also a bird of force. In Chinese mythology the swallow is known as a pictogram which shows the wings, tail, head and body. In china the city of Peking is known as the city of swallows and the omen of seeing this bird is success and change in affairs of those that live there. The swallow represents the masculine and feminine transformation in china.

By Florance Saul
Oct 8, 2018