A tattoo is a form of body modification where either indelible or temporary designs are made by puncturing the skin with needles and injecting ink, dyes and pigments into the deep layer of the skin. Professional tattoo artists use tattoo machines to power the needles up and down as ink is deposited in the skin. Furthermore, tattooing has been a part of human history for thousands of years. Whether it’s an expression of religious beliefs, rites of passage, or for personal reasons, tattoos are here to stay.
However, if you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, you should understand that tattoos are permanent. Therefore, tattoo removal is difficult, expensive and may not completely remove the tattoo. While getting a tattoo hurts, the level of pain can vary. Consequently, you need to think long and hard about what will inspire the tattoo and where you want it. In addition, you could even try on a few temporary tattoos to see how it’ll look on your skin. After all, tattoos are permanent!
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Even small tattoos are a large decision. And despite the size these tattoos can make a statement. We’ve put together a list of 15 of the best small tattoos with deeper symbolic meanings.
Throughout the Far East, the crane is considered an auspicious bird and is known to be a bird of happiness. The crane is heavenly and a bird of peace. In Japan, after the Second World War, folded paper origami cranes became a symbol of peace and hope.
This crane tattoo looks incredibly stunning with the delicate shading showing the folded lines of the paper. It can be beautiful tattooed anywhere on the body.
Sailors often got tattoos of nautical stars or compass stars for superstitious reasons, in hope that the star would help guide their way through the night and get them home safely. The star represents a positive guide for the future.
The five pointed star is now a symbol of protection, guidance and good luck. An upward-pointing star in Wicca represents the four elements – water, fire, air and water. The fifth point represents the Spirit.
The symbol of the snowflake is uniqueness, each one is completely different and delicate, snowflakes often represent purity, individuality, grace and peace. Snowflakes drift and swirl through the air, each individual flake taking it’s own path to the ground.
If you want to get a delicate tattoo that represents your individuality, you might consider a snowflake design. As each snowflake is different there are a number of design, shapes, patterns and form options available.
12. Crescent Moon
The Crescent Moon or so called Luna, half moon is also known as the waning and waxing moon. Luna is a sign of fertility, related to life and death, and thus a popular symbol in many religions. It may be worn to represent womanhood.
The design of the crescent moon is a perfect tattoo choice for those who are interested in astrology and have a passion for space. As a small design it would be a great fit for behind the ear, on the ankle or on the wrist.
The circle represents the sun and moon, and also the lapse of time. A symbol which has no beginning and no end, the circle of life. The circle is a universal symbol with many meanings. It represents totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite and eternity.
This minimalistic circular design by tattoo artist Okan Uckun is elegant and striking. The bold simplicity of the circle certainly stands out and makes a statement. The size of the circle can be any size of your choosing therefore you can make a subtle statement or go large and go for it!
Small tattoos can be your mantra they can encourage and motivate you. The arrow can have a significant meaning. Arrows can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, that means it is going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming forward and be strong.
Arrows have become one of the most popular designs for tattoos. They can be stylized to suit your personality and will pretty much look great in any size due to uncomplicated nature of the design.
9. Lotus Flower
The lotus flower design is not only revered for its beauty but also reflects a deeper spiritual meaning. The Lotus grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flowers first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.
Worn on the skin by both men and woman the lotus flower is common symbol among many religions. It really is a charming design!
Delta is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet and also signifies the number 4. The Delta symbol means change however leaving a slight gap in the design changes it’s meaning to symbolize someone who is open to change.
The delta design is a perfect design for someone’s first tattoo and is a bit nervous jumping into the deep end and opting for a full colored detailed sleeve. It’s simple line design not only looks great but will hurt less!
Inguz, a Viking symbol meaning “where there is a will, there is a way” may mark a time of joyful deliverance, of new life, a new path. A Rune of great power, receiving it means that you now have the strength to achieve completion, resolution, from which comes a new beginning.
The chevron almost cross-hatch like design is your motivational mantra tattooed on the skin as a constant reminder and form of inspiration.
6. Paper Airplane
The paper airplane tattoo holds significance to many. It can represent youth, whimsical ideas, freedom, fun, carefree attitude and a worry-free existence. The wings are also said to symbolize pilots and the paper plane tattoo is folded into three parts, which represent three licenses pilots need to fly planes.
This tattoo is super cute and very fitting for the age of travel and those embracing a Digital Nomad lifestyle. It will incite the wanderlust in all of us.
Generally, the anchor represents hope, salvation, composure, calm and steadfastness. At sea, the anchor is the most secure object in a sailor’s life, making it the perfect representation of stability. These days the anchor symbolizes strength and support: something or someone that holds you in place and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.
The anchor was once thought to be a tattoo cliche and had a fair amount of stigma attached to it. Now embraced by rock stars, celebrities and many others who proudly display this design for all to see.
Feather tattoos symbolize different characteristics found in birds such as truth, courage, bravery, freedom, travel and so much more. Some cultures and civilizations view feathers as messages from the spirit world. Feathers symbolize ascension and spiritual evolution to a higher plane.
Why not get a feather tattoo and show your creativity? Feather designs are both attractive and pleasing to the eye as well as holding a deeper meaning to the wearer.
The tree symbolizes life, immortality, eternity, knowledge and wisdom. Also representing strength, protection and abundance. Trees show growth, forgiveness, and salvation. Tree of life tattoos drawn with its roots and branches intertwined in a circle show growth and development. The roots signify the starting point of everything, and of life.
Trees have been an important symbol throughout history. Tree roots can also indicate a connection with family and ancestors. A tattoo that symbolizes having ‘strong roots’ and being well-grounded in life.
A mountain could be a symbol of overcoming something major in life. Generally, mountain tattoos signify a love of travel, a great journey, or a physical place in the world. It can also represent climbing over obstacles, overcoming challenges or making progress. Climbing up a mountain symbolizes ”rising” or improvement.
The mountain can mean whatever the wearer intends, it stands as a reminder of a personal achievement.
“Climb every mountain. Ford every steam. Follow every rainbow. ‘Till you find your dream.”
You can raise attention to something you care about with a tattoo. These are small but the meaning of the semicolon tattoos are huge. The semicolon tattoo hides a deep and personal meaning. This mark represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention. A smile tattoo with such a beautiful meaning.
“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
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Have you got any small tattoos with big meanings? Tell us in the comments below or share your pics with us on social media — tag @topfivecom and #top5smalltattoos.