A heart tattoo can be quite small while still being recognizable, which means that it’s popular with people who want to have a small but meaningful tattoo. Although the heart symbol is generally shown in red, heart tattoo designs can come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Old school heart tattoos are very popular, especially when displayed with other old school tattoo designs such as roses, banners and sparrows.
Heart Tattoos are Lovely Body Art Designs
Heart shapes have been around for thousands of years in art, although they weren’t always used as a stylized representation of a human heart. Most of these early precursors to heart designs were in the form of leaf designs and spear heads. Over time, the same shape was adapted to become a symbol of the human heart – the place in the body that was believed to be the birthplace of emotions like love and passion.
The heart symbol has been used in religious artworks, on playing cards and as the favored symbol for Valentine’s day. The symbol is simple, yet it carries complicated meanings of adoration, generosity, love, passion, desire, health, blood, lust and approval.
Heart tattoos became popular in the early 1900s, when sailors began to wear heart tattoos with the word “Mum” in the center. Later, heart tattoos bore the names of wives and/or children, sometimes even a favored port. During World War II, soldiers wore heart tattoos with the name of a girlfriend or wife. The tattoos were considered lucky charms – keepsakes of loved ones that they couldn’t lose in the chaos of fighting.
As tattoo machines improved and tattoo artists could produce finer detail in their art works, heart tattoo designs became more complex. Some were depicted with symbolic elements such as snakes, swords, fire or flowers. A very popular form of heart tattoo included a banner that hung across the heart with a name or motto written across it.
The Meaning of Heart Tattoos
The heart symbol is made up of two halves, usually the same size and shape. Without one half, the symbol would not be complete, so the heart symbol represents a union or joining of two people in a relationship. They can also represent the emotional joining created when a person loves a place, idea or animal.
A heart that is torn in two is a broken heart and is used to symbolize emotional pain. Often after a relationship ends, people will turn to this symbol as a visual expression of the heart broken feeling that they are experiencing. Because a tattoo is permanent, a tattoo of a broken heart means the person has no faith that they will ever feel whole again after experiencing a loss.
The meaning of heart tattoos change according to what style and color the heart design uses, and what symbols the heart is displayed with. Wings represent freedom and spiritual ascension. A winged heart could symbolize that someone “flies on wings of passion” or feels that love has set them free.
Flower species have their own meanings in tattoos, and when combined with a heart create an entirely new meaning. A rose is a very popular flower to combine with a heart in tattoos designs. Both the heart and rose represent love and passion, but while the heart could represent a physical sensation, the rose can represent the emotional side of love. (Read more about flower tattoos)
Heart tattoos don’t necessarily need to show a red heart. The heart design can be made up of other things, such as animals (as seen in the lionheart tattoo above) or objects and ideas that are precious to a person. The silhouette of a heart is highly recognizable, so as long as the design stays faithful to the outline of a heart, it is a heart tattoo.