These lovely birds populate the world with their cute chirps and songs. Their ubiquity lends them a large amount of myths, legends, symbols, and spiritual meaning. The sparrow remains one of the most traditional tattoos in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s a common copy-and-paste design. Rather, the sparrow represents something that anyone can find dear. In today’s article, let’s talk all about the deep meaning behind the sparrow, and show off a huge sparrow tattoo gallery!
What Does a Sparrow Symbolize?
In ancient times, a lone sparrow represented loneliness and solitude. You can see this is old stories, including the Old Testament. Undying love, loyalty, and friendship encompass the feather design of a sparrow tattoo. As we spread out across the world, we realized that sparrows are everywhere—and once we knew that, they gained a new meaning. Freedom.
Sailors would see migrating sparrows in the rafters of their ship and know they were close to land. On top of that, the company of a sparrow gave them comfort. After all, that sparrow could land wherever it pleased—but it chose their ship. Sailors who traveled more than 5,000 nautical miles would get a tattoo of a sparrow to show their accomplishment.
Sparrow Tattoo Position Meaning
The position of a sparrow adds to its meaning. Pairs of sparrows represent a completed journey, or perhaps love found. Two sparrows on the chest of a sailor represent a great accomplishment during their journeys, and two sparrows on the wrist of a sailor meant they were the saltiest sailors around. In England and Russia, a sparrow on the back of your hand is a reminder to stay on the right track. Most commonly, those exiting jail would get a sparrow tattoo there. More than one sparrow tattoo on your hands means that you have trouble staying out of the slammer.
Small Sparrow Tattoo
Now that we have sparrow tattoo meaning out of the way, let’s check out the application of these designs! Sparrow tattoo designs fall into four categories: realistic, traditional, neo traditional, and abstract. Realistic sparrows capture the beauty of the bird, and they usually mean love and loyalty, rather than referencing a journey. Neo traditional tattoos create a cartoony look for the birds and add some unnatural, but beautiful, colors. Abstract sparrow tattoo designs use watercolor ink techniques to create a colorful design that resembles painted-on art.
Traditional Sparrow Tattoo
Traditional tattoos of sparrows get a little more complicated. Also called a Sailor Jerry tattoo, sailors have used this tattoo style since WWII. The style uses red, black, and yellow ink to paint a picture of a sparrow. The outlines are bold and toony, with the sparrow’s eyes sometimes appearing as a curled line, rather than an actual eye. If you’re interested in a traditional tattoo, seek out artists with experience in the art. Artists use special rules for traditional tattoos that they pass down through apprenticeships.
Ultimately, these tiny birds offer a lot of meaning to us. Though common, they represent the highest form of freedom. They live wherever they please, fly across the entire world, and travel in large flocks. They are even freer to travel than we humans are! Sparrows remind us that no matter how small or trivial we may be in this world, we still live our lives with freedom. We all travel, we all love, and we all sing in our own ways. Perhaps a sparrow tattoo is the first step to finding the freedom of the sparrows.