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Tattoo Dictionary

You can’t find exactly same tattoo anywhere in the world.
Each tattoo have meanings, beliefs, unforgetable feelings and all sorts of important messages.
You engrave it directly onto your skin to have it with you all the time.
Every tattoo subject have symbols and meanings.

Introducing the representative tattoo subjects on this page.
Please use it as a reference to decide your tattoo design!

01 Phoenix

Phoenix is a legendary bird in classical mythology of China.
It is told to be a sign of the emperor appearance when Phenix shows up. Phoenix is an auspicious bird where Phoenix design is numerously used for an art objects and a buildings. Also, Phoenix had a role of escorting a God which leads your life to a good direction.
From a beautiful outlook with a long tail, Phoenix has being popular in Japan and overseas.

02 Swallow

Swallow is a major subject in American traditional tattoo.
From the fact that swallow acts in pairs, it symbolizes the love, loyalty, hopes to your family and friends. It’s also indicates the good fortune of successful voyage out at the sea. Swallows navigates the harbor is now close by.
You can have a swallow silhouette as a small tattoo.

03 Butterfly

From egg, to larvae, to pupa and from fly beautifully out the cocoon, the butterfly is a symbol of a tranformation and rebirth.
It also have meaning of free spirits and life by their wings. Sucking nectar from a flower by flying between flowers also symbolizes the power of a independent woman.
Butterflies can be designed in various colors in many elegant designs. It’s popular in regardless of gender.

04 Anklet

A Hollywood actress Nicole Richie instigated this anklet design out in public.
It’s such a cute accessory tattoo to have it on.
The most popular anklet designs have a cross hanging on the anklet to symbolize a Jesus Christ, love, life, hope, nature.

05 Sanskrit

Sanskrit is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism (India), it’s related to buddhism and esoteric Buddhism.
Sanskrit is being a base of the ancient Sanskrit language. It’s being popularized as a holy letters together with a Buddhism’s introduction to Japan.
Single Sanskrit word indicates deities and Buddhas. It it popular to have a Sanskrit tattoo to express your birth year deity guards.

06 Tiger

The tiger represents the masculine principle in nature and is king of all the animals. Popular for who desires physical strength.
Tiger is designed in various styles, from Japanese to American styles. Color contrast of yellow and black is outstanding color contrast which is another popular reason.
The combination of a tiger and bamboo is preferred since the bamboo groves are the tiger’s favourite safe haven. Tiger’s yellow and black color and bamboo’s green is the most beautiful color contrast.

07 Angel

Angels are known as the minister of God in scriptures and traditions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Angels are believed to be talented and having special powers. Angels are generally means guard, hope, trust, freedom, strength, innocence and love but also in another conflict meaning of goodness and evilness.
It means self-fulfillment in higher dimension when male engraves angel. Self-possession and calm when female engraves angel to themselves.

08 The Sun

The sun means alot to human beings. We can not live without it. The Sun has being spiritually worshiped as the sun goddess since the ancient period. It has a positive image which symbolizes a mystical energy of the universe being the origin of all living creatures.
Various sun style is available with tattoo designs.

09 Unicorn

The unicorn is a mythological creatures with one long horn and beautiful white body with very strong magical power which symbolizes noble and purity.
Unicorn have another meanings of femininity, dream, peace, good fortune, loneliness as well.

10 Pray Hands

Praying hands (maybe called God hand), such a prayer gesture is a symbol of oath to your beloved person, prayer for your dream, hope, goal.
This subject is chosen for prays.
It’ll be something very special to have the words with pray hands.

11 Rose

Roses are ancient symbols of love, beauty and passion. It’s a popular design regardless of gender in worldwide.
The language of flowers may meant differently depending on the color and quantity. You may want to decide your design based on the language of flowers.

12 Heart

World known symbol of the heart is an ideograph used to express the love, passion and affection. It also symbolizes the life by the shape of the heart.
The heart characteristics are used in various designs.
It can be done as a small tattoo or Sacred heart design to indicate the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

13 Virgin Mary

The Virgin Mary represents the mother of Jesus. An image of a mother with heart of virtue.
Catholics mainly reverencing Virgin Mary as a mother of GOD, however the Protestants do treat her as a human.
Virgin Mary symbolizes a motherhood and kindness and the innocence and purity by the virgin birth of Jesus.

14 Mermaid

The origin of the Mermaids are from 16th to 17th Century of England folk story.
Mermaids have long been a subject of mystique image which being a popular tattoo design.
It’s mostly favored by the people who loves oceans in which meaning the good luck charms of “Safe sea voyage” and “Endeared by a sea goddess”.

15 Lotus

Lotus is often grows in mud and it cleanly flowers beautifully the following day. In Buddhism, it’s a symbol of purity, sacred, mercy and wisdom.
It’s being associated and originally spread across from Egyptology, Hinduism, China and to Japan. This lotus pattern is popular in tattoo designs by how it represents a oriental culture.
In ancient India, lotus symbolized the sun and stars, a link between heaven and the earth, fertility and beauty.

16 Skull

Traditionally, skulls are used as a symbol of death and have such a dark image in general.
However, it symbolizes the impartiality and fairness by how all humans will eventually become a skeleton.
And it also have a positive meaning of picking up a life by rebirthing from the death.

17 Hannya

It’s specially popular worldwidely by representing a traditional Japanese style.
We say Hannya in tattoo but it’s originally called Hannya Mask. In Buddhism, they call Hannya for a spiritually awakened wisdom by performing number of physical and mental ascetic practices.
Hannya mask represents a jealous female demon or serpent.
Upper side of Hannya mask shows the pain and sorrow expression. Lower side shows the anger expression.

18 Carp

In Chinese historical fact, a lot of fish tried to swim up a waterfall called Ryumon in the rapid stream of the Yellow River, but only carp could climb the river and became dragons.
This is the originate of how we have a phrase “Toryumon (gateway to success)” and the carp is now symbolizes a social success. Also the symbol of having a strong life force is popular in tattoo design.
Carp is famous to be known as carrying a good fortune where you keep the last scale uncolored on purposely to be superstitious by trouble-less with money for the entire life.

19 Lion

As we say that the lion is the king of the beasts and no enemy’s around.
But they are only afraid of a harmful insects living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals and eat flesh underneath the skin, which can kill a lion as well. Lions spend their night under the peony where these harmful insects dies by evening dew of a peony flower.
This is how a lion and the peonies combination is common in Japanese art.

20 Dragon

Dragon is worshiped as a divine beasts and sacred beast from old days. It’s the symbol of success in life.
Rising dragon is a figure of dragon rising from the ground to the sky. Landing dragon is a figure of dragon landing onto the ground. It the Buddhism doctrinal meanings of performing ‘Jugubodai Gegeshujo’ (self-training and seeking Nirvana every day while looking up and converting others to the religion while looking down).
People prefers to have both rising and landing dragon together since two dragons are in pairs.

21 The Moon

The Moon is another popular object together with the Sun. As it’s known in principles of Yin and Yang, the sun and moon has being grasped as font and back side. It used to symbolize the calmness for tattoos.
It has a special characteristics of various designs such as a full moon, a crescent, a variation with stars and so on.

22 Calavera

Calavera is known to be originated in Mexico. Calavera is decorated on The Day of the Dead which is celebrated annually in Mexico on November 1st.
Most commonly drawn with flowers or colorfully colored. Calavera is now becoming popular for a tattoo design.

23 Ribbon

Ribbon designs are popular for small tattoos. It symbolizes a reward, friendship, talisman, prominence and joy.
。 In European Middle Ages, ribbons were tied on a shield to wish for the safety.
People believed in omens, tied a knot in ∞ infinity shapes.

24 Rabbit

Rabbits are used as a symbol of a sex, like how American magazine PLAYBOY has rabbit for their logo. Also rabbits are known to be a fortunate animal how it’s related to a image of spring season when leaf and flower buds grow.
Spring is the best season for breeding, and lucky to see the rabbits running in a field. Another sayings of being blessed with a child if you see a rabbit crossing your garden, or the crops to be grown well that year.

25 Ganesha

Ganesha is a highest principal god to be known in Kama (Hinduism). Ganesha is worshiped as the elephant-headed God, signifies wisdom and knowledge, a thriving business, accomplish in studies.
Ganesha is holding sweets on one hand, they represents the wealthiness. A big stomach represents the glory.
It’s one of the most popular design out of the God’s designs.

26 Spider

We say that if you see a spider seen in the morning, it brings good luck.
Spider webs are famously known as a dream catcher in Native American’s good luck charm.
Engraved spider web on a elbow symbolizes the PUNKS.

27 Peacock

As there’s sayings of peacock eats three poisons, they eats poisonous snakes and poisonous insects.
In old days, India used to belief peacock as a God of protecting people from the poisons and a harmful animals. Also peacock’s are drawn in many Buddhism and esoteric Buddhism arts by it’s absolutely gorgeous outlooks.
Western countries being loving this oriental mysterious bird for a long time.

28 Hickey

Having hickey for a small tattoo is popular. It can be both sexy and cute tattoo.
It’s popular to girls at the chest and hip area using their feminine body line.

29 Poppy

Poppy is called Hinageshi in Japanese. Poppy’s language of flower is relief, sleep, sympathy, thoughtfulness.
It’s often chosen as a cute tattoo design by it’s delicateness and colorfulness (red, white pink) characteristics.

30 Diamond

Diamond design is popular in small design for both man and woman.
It symbolizes the invincibleness, power, love, loyalty, eternity, virginity.
Diamond is popular tattoo design by it’s pompy shiny jewelry looks.

31 Goldfish

Goldfish was crossbreeded as an aquarium fish in China. The way they swim is beautiful and refreshing.
The pronunciation of goldfish in Chinese sounds similar to a word “jÒn andyú” (money remains), this is how goldfish symbolizes the wealthiness.
Feng shui tells red color brings a good fortune, and black can drive away the evil sprits. Two red and black goldfishes together also known to bring a good fortune. By it’s elegant looking, goldfishes are gaining popularity with females.
Goldfish and flower combination may be a nice design too.

32 Qilin

Qilin is an auspicious creature found in folktales across China. It’s known as a legendary sacred beast together with Chinese phoenix, Reiki and Yinglong as a leading creature in the world.
Qilin has a calm characteristics, only eats the dead grasses. They hate taking life of living creatures, even hates stepping on the plants and insects on the ground. Their horn is also surrounded by the flesh not to hurt the others.
Qilin symbolizes faithfulness where you can keep the peaceful time if you get to see them.
It’s being popular in tattoo design as a good fortune symbol.

33 The Sun and The Moon

The sun means a lot to human beings. We can not live without it. The Sun has being spiritually worshiped as the sun goddess since the ancient period.
Both the sun and the moon is symbolic subject to form a counterpart.
Chinese ideology tells the sun as positive, the moon as negative. Also in Buddhism, Suryaprabha and Candraprabha are enshrined on right and left of Bhaisajyaguru.
The contrasting design of the sun and the moon is popular.

34 Eagle

Eagle, the ruler of the skies by it’s valiant looking. Eagle is known as a messenger from the heaven for Native Americans.
And you must be honest when you are holding eagle’s feather in hand. Eagle’s feather is believed to bring a good fortune to both receiver and sender. Japanese people used eagle design into their family crest and an decoration of armor. Mostly being appreciated by the Samurai.
Eagles in tattoo design symbolizes nobleness, authority, high-minded meanings.

35 Tibetan Skull

Tibetan skull is a Buddhist altar fittings decorating the highest priest of Tibetan Buddhist’s skull using silver, turquoise, coral. It is thought that this Tibetan Skull was used as a chalice by drinking the sacred water in this to inherit the soul and their thoughts.
It’s especially popular among tattoo designs by hight artistry ornaments.

36 Acala

Acala, the God of Fire, is a guardian deity and to stop the evil passions. One of the major king within the five great wisdom kings (Acala, Kundali, Trilokavijaya, Vajrayaksa, Yamantaka). Acala’s appearance derive from such scriptural source as the Dainichi Buddha. Acala curses who violated the teachings of Buddhism by the fierce facial expressions.The fire behind him will burn down the evil passions.
Acala is mainly taken into Japanese traditional tattoo.
Various Acala designs such as full body, face only, ride on a dragon, Kurikarafudou (Acala transformed to a dragon and twined onto a sward).

37 Peony

Peony is known as a flower of riches and honor. It’s called a king of the flower varieties.
It’s used in a kimono, lacquer, pottery, furniture and painting from the old times. It’s also popular in tattoo designs where it symbolizes wealthiness, nobleness, good fortune and prosperity.
Sometimes having one large peony, or combination of a lion and peony together.

38 Feather

Feather design is popular in regardless of gender.
It represents the freedom, rising, hope, courage, good luck.Also it’s known as a signals and messages within Native Americans. This is how the dream catcher is engraved with a feather as a charm of dream to come true and to take away nightmares.
Small feather tattoo looks gentle and beautiful to look more casually.

39 Polynesian Tribal

Polynesian tribal are now under a new category in tribal and it’s the most popular design.
It was originally designed to express the social status, religious and magic-religious meanings. Polynesian tribal are usually designed mainly with geometric pattern and lines. And mostly designed under a subject of sea, shell, tortoiseshell, shark, sun and other natures.
Each design is deformed in it’s original design having your personal meanings.

40 Scorpion

Scorpions are the ferocious animal carrying a poisonous needle on their tail.
They raise their tail up high gallantly to threat the enemies. It’s popular regardless of gender. Some people tattoo scorpion to show the strength and power.
The egyptian myth tells the scorpions meant the guardian god by the story of the goddess Isis protected herself using the scorpions.
It also symbolizes the toughness by how scorpions live in a hot pitiless environment.

41 Owl

The owl is sacred servant to the Greek goddess in ancient Greece. It symbolizes wisdom and intelligence by how owls were called sage animal of the forest. In Japan, by writing owl in Kanji characters “不苦労” or “福朗” makes a meaning of keeping away from the bad luck and bring a good fortune.
Native North American engraves totem pole with eyes widely opened or wings spread across for a ability of the danger sensing.
Egyptian civilization also worshiped owls as a guardian angel since they believed that the owls are possible to get in contact with the deceased world.
From this kind of meanings, combination of a owl and a skull tattoo are seen.

42 Knife

Knife and swords can express a strong message of a fateful tool to judge life or death. This design is mostly liked by a man.
There are another meanings such as justice, honor, belief, destroy and creation.
Designs are available by individually or a combination with a flame, thunder, skull and heart. By what you combine with, the design and the meaning can change in different ways. It’s nice and easy to arrange in your original way.

43 Beckoning Cat

Beckoning Cat (Maneki-neko) is believed to bring a good luck to the owner. A cat with an up-right paw brings a luck with money. A cat with an up-left paw invites people around.
Also a color depends in meanings below,
*White:Good luck *Black:Warding off evil *Gold:Luck in Money
*Red:Protect from illness *Blue:Road safety *Pink:Luck in love
It’s popular tattoo design to be chosen after by it’s good lucks. You may have your wish with the beckoning cat in your preferred color and a items together.

44 Snake

Snake tattoos have being popular in world wide from old ages.
Snakes begin worshiped as a God, incarnation of a God, God messenger in the world. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of immortality and rebirth.
Egyptian civilization symbolized a snake in a ring shape as a perfect thing. This design is often used in tattoos.
Snake’s flexible slender body can be entwined to another item to make a cool design.

45 Pair Tattoo

Pair tattoos are for a loving couple to engrave the same feelings.
Couples can have an exact same design, or to form one design by joining tattoos together. A sweet design like a pair tattoo joins perfectly when a couple hold hands together. This shows such a sweet mood of spending their lives together.
This design is mostly subjected to feel the love and hopes for the future.

46 Infinity

Infinity symbol (Moebius-ring), a shape of a number 8 on a sideway, is a English word which indicates infinity. It symbolizes the wishing the eternity as it has no end in the symbol.
Most of the infinity tattoo is using a subject arranged in a infinity symbol.
It’s popular to have your favourite phrase in a infinity shape.

47 Bat

Western countries have strong image of bats associated with black magic and demons. This is how bats are typically paired with a vampire. However in Eastern countries being regarded as a good animal.
“Five bats in a circle design” represents a wealthiness and popular to be drawn on a furnitures.
A realistic bat or in a silhouette are popular in tattoo designs.

48 Raven

Raven, to be known as a warning indication of misfortunes and bad omens.
However, ravens symbolizes a love and self-sacrifice in myth of China and Japan.
Also they symbolizes intelligence since ravens are intelligent among other birds. Ravens in tattoo are designed to express the meanings of intelligence, secret and guardian.

49 Bear

Bears represents the good fortune by their highest positioned mammal of a food chain in the forest.
And Native Americans and the Ainu believed a brown bear as a messenger of the God. In a Greek mythology, The goddess Artemis of hunting and purity, is the incarnation of a bear and she given a name to the Great Bear.
Mostly bear tattoos are chosen to include the overwhelming power and admiring to the Mother Nature. Large bear will definitely give a powerful impression.

50 Two Faces

Two Face tattoo is a combined design of a two different facial expression.
By combining a different facial expression such as a crying mask and a laughing mask will show that a life is bittersweet. The alternate between joy and grief has been drawn out well.
However, this expression is just by a mask. This tattoo represents the true self intent to live with a robust strong mind no matter of up and downs in your life.

51 Clover

Four-leaf clover, a lucky clover is an uncommon to find in three leaved clovers.
Four-leaf clover bring good luck to the finders. Also the leaves in shape of a cross relates to the Christians as an important subject. Furthermore, each leaf is believed to represent something. The first is for faith, the second is for hope, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck. According to tradition, there are special meaning of “genuine” once four leaves get together.
From these meanings, four-leaf clover is te most popular good luck design in tattoos.

52 Cross

The cross symbol is famously known as the Christian symbol. The most important event in history where Jesus Christ was executed on a cross. A cross symbolizes “rebirth” how Jesus Christ came back to life three days after he died by execution.
A cross design is popular regardless of a gender. It’s a nice design to wear as a part of the fashion.

53 Camellia

Camellia is originally came from Japan. It’s one of Japan’s representative flower.
China have an oriental image in camellias.
The symbol of camellia represents passion, deep love, virtue and so on. Also a main character in a famous opera “Lady of the Camellias” wore a camellia and this made a meaning “commit a crime” as unofficial language of flower.
Japanese people loves camellia from the old times. There are various camellia patterns in Japanese Kimono. Camellia matches beautifully with a Japanese style tattoo designs.

54 Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma (Daruma doll) is traditionally modeled from a Buddhist monk of Zen Buddhism.
Buddhist monk kept Zen meditation sitting towards a wall for 9 years and achieved enlightenment. This is the reason why Bodhidharma is leg-less. Draw only right eye when you wish for something, and draw a left eye when it become in real.
Bodhidharma tattoo is popular to sincere the success if perseveringly be patient.

55 Geometrical design

Geometrical design is a combination pattern made by triangles, squares, rhombus, polygons and circles. Geometrical tattoo is getting popular in recent years as a new tattoo category.
Personalized tattoo design is possible with it’s characteristical complex pattern design.

56 Panther

Leopard is usually called a panther in tattoo design and indicates a black panther. Greek mythology symbolizes panther as an oppressed instinct to release and go over a limit or uncontrollable. Also in ancient civilization of Mid and South America believes panther as a faithful animal in which it used to symbolize the Imperial Family’s power and the nobility.
Panthers are one of the standard design in American Traditional Tattoos.

57 Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell is a fictional fairy character from Peter Pan. Her pixie dust can help humans fly if they think happy thoughts.
Tinkerbell design is especially preferred by a woman and it’s usually tattooed in a small size. Tinkerbell in a silhouette design is another popular design being chosen as well.

58 Sandglass

Sandglass has two connected vertical glass bulbs with a narrow neck in the middle allowing a sand from the top to the bottom. It symbolizes a life by it’s role of indicating a time.
Also it’s a symbol of a life cycle, death, new beginning and balance.
A narrow neck shape have high designability which can be an attractive tattoo design.

59 Lily

Lily have a maternal meanings from how it’s called a flower for a mother. The Lily flower symbolizes purity and refined beauty in Christianity as the Virgin Mary’s symbol. From these meanings, a combination of a lily and a cross design is common in tattoos.
Also the commonly used “Fluer de lis” in tattoo symbolizes a trinity meanings of the “past, present, future” and “life, death, rebirth”.

60 Black Cat

Cats were believed as a God to get rid of snakes in Ancient Egypt. England also believes cat as a fisherman’s guardian angel. However, in other countries such as Italy, Ireland symbolizes black cat as an unlucky animal.
Cats are always a popular design by it’s charming but egoistic and whimsy character which can be often drawn in a fantastic designs.
A black cat’s silhouetted tattoo shows a beautiful and cute lithe body outline and very popular design for a woman.