Hummingbirds are among the smallest birds on Earth, but even though they are tiny, they are powerful creatures. The hummingbird has been praised in both ancient tribes and modern societies as a powerful totem (animal symbol) representing vitality and sexuality.
The Sweet Sippers in Hummingbird Tattoos
Hummingbirds drink the nectar of flowers to stay alive. Even though they are small, the hummingbird uses a lot of energy to fly and therefore needs a lot of nectar to sustain it. The hummingbird will fly up to a flower in a blur of wings and then hover before the flower, dipping its long beak into the blossom to sip at the nectar within. The hummingbird’s ability to hover has fascinated man for centuries, and although scientists have tried to reproduce this hovering motion in aircraft, all attempts of mechanical reproduction have so far failed.
The hummingbird’s flying abilities don’t end with being able to hover. This tiny flitting bird is the only bird that is able to fly backwards. This trait sets the hummingbird apart from other bird species, making it extraordinary in the animal kingdom. As a symbolic tattoo, hummingbird designs can represent magic, the fantastic and the supernatural. These tiny birds can seem unreal at times, an aspect that places them on the border between the realms of reality and fantasy.
Many hummingbird tattoos have had extra design elements added to the bird, turning a simple hummingbird tattoo into a fantasy design with the addition of long, flowing tails and decorative feathers. In these designs, the hummingbird tattoo begins to look a bit like a bird of paradise, another bird species that shares several meanings with the hummingbird.
Most hummingbirds are brightly colored, which means that they can be used in colorful tattoos alongside other colorful tattoo designs such as flowers and butterflies. A clever tattoo artist can create an entire back piece over time, adding a flower, butterfly or hummingbird every few months. For those people who enjoy getting tattoos, a tattoo design that is built over time allows them to enjoy the process of getting body art and to change the design along with their changing personality.
The Symbolism of Hummingbird Tattoos
The ancient tribes of the Aztecs (South America) worshiped the hummingbird as a symbol of vigor, sex and weaponry. The meaning of vigor is given to the bird because of its constant motion in the air as it busily flits from one flower to another. This busy-ness of the little bird associates it with hard work and high energy levels. The Aztecs respected the hummingbird for being a hard worker.
The term “the birds and the bees” is quite adequately described in the hummingbird’s way of sipping nectar. The hummingbird dips its long beak (a phallic symbol representing masculine sexual organs) into the fertile flower (representative of femininity and the female reproductive organs). While sipping the nectar, the flower releases pollen particles that catch on the hummingbird’s beak and feathers. When the bird visits another flower, the pollen is shared with this new flower and the process of fertilization is complete. Because of these sexually-oriented symbols, hummingbird tattoos can be worn as a symbol of fertility and sexual prowess.
The sharp beak of the hummingbird was appreciated by the Aztecs as being similar in nature to a sword or spear. Hummingbird talismans were worn by warriors in the belief that wearing an image of the hummingbird would grant the wearer supernatural skills in battle, allowing the warrior to move with the grace and speed of the hummingbird and to wield their weapons with ease.
The hummingbird’s wings move in a figure-8 pattern, a shape that is also used as a symbol for infinity. Because of this, the hummingbird can be used in tattoo designs as a symbol of eternity. Adding other symbols to the tattoo design gives further meaning to the tattoo. For example, if the hummingbird is shown with a specific flower, the symbolism held by the flower would then be expressed as an eternal symbol such as eternal love, eternal trust or eternal devotion.
Hummingbirds are beautiful to watch, inspiring people to hang nectar feeders on their porches and balconies so they can watch these quick and colorful creatures. Their beauty is reflected in hummingbird tattoos and hummingbird designs are often chosen for tattoos because they inspire joy and an appreciation of beauty in those who see the design.