The Anchor itself has been around since the time of the Sumerians in 2000 - 2500 BC.
It is one of oldest symbols used in tattoos, with the first images being used during the early days of Christianity at a time when Christians were persecuted for their beliefs.
Many circumvented persecution and disguised their affiliations by wearing an anchor, which not only masked the symbol of the Cross, but also represented Jesus' connection with the sea (several of his disciples were fishermen and he was also known to perform numerous miracles that involved marine elements). Indeed, the Anchor is a strong Christian symbol and is intricately woven throughout the Bible. It is also used as a representation of St. Clement of Rome, who was executed at sea by being tied to an anchor and thrown overboard.
According to some scholars, the Anchor also symbolizes the connection of Feminine and Masculine powers, with the crescent (the bottom half) of the anchor being the female element and the rod representing the male phallus. This ideology was commonly found in ancient Egypt, since the anchor is akin to the Ankh, the Egyptian symbol for Life.
It wasn't recognized as a proud calling card of sailors and servicemen until around the 1500s when it was adopted by the British Navy after a decisive victory over the Spanish naval fleet. In the early 1900s, Anchor tattoos were used to identify several generations of servicemen within a family, but the modernization of warfare has resulted in fewer family members enlisting in the military. As such, it is growing increasingly uncommon to see a grandfather, a father, and a son within the same family boasting their tats.
Today, the soaring popularity of anchor tattoos outside the Service is due in part to celebrities like Ami James of NY Ink, who proudly display their works of art for all to see.
The meaning of Anchor Tattoo designs
In rough seas an anchor is a sailor's last refuge, hope that things can get better.
An anchor tattoo can have a variety of meanings, all of which embody the characteristics of noble servicemen:
- Dedication to the greater good
- Stability and Security
Anchor Tattoo Design Variations
While the presence of an anchor in tattoo designs generally means Stability and Loyalty, by incorporating various elements in your design, you can modify the meaning of your tattoo to symbolize loyalty to a particular culture or organization.
Navy Anchor Tattoos
The USN anchor tattoo is popular among servicemen, servicewomen, and their loved ones. It symbolizes Devotion and a connection to the US Navy. It usually features either the initials U.S.N or the colors of the American flag. These tattoo designs are also popular with persons who have lost family members in the line of naval duty.
Anchor and Rope Tattoos & Anchor and Chain Tattoos
The Anchor and Rope image first appeared in the family seal of Lord Howard of Effingham. After he led a successful battle campaign against the Spanish Armada, the British Navy adopted Lord Effingham's insignia as a official symbol of the office of the High Admiral. It became popular and quickly spread throughout the entire Navy. It was later adopted by the US Navy because of the strong British influence on the former colony's naval traditions.
The image of an anchor wrapped with a rope or chain is generally called a 'fouled anchor'. When at sea, having a fouled anchor is bad, since it becomes highly instable and extremely insecure. For some strange reason, the image was so popular with sailors, that they became the de facto symbol of various navies worldwide. The Fouled Anchor is also shown with a chain instead of a rope.
Eagle, Globe and Anchor Tattoos
This design is the official insignia for the US Marine Corps and was adopted in 1955. The Globe shows North and South America (Western Hemisphere) and symbolizes the US Navy's willingness to be of service to the world, the Eagle represents the United States (remember that the bald eagle is the national bird of the US), and the anchor pays homage to the country's naval traditions. Occasionally, there is a ribbon in the Eagle's beak that has the words Semper Fidelis meaning 'Always Faithful'.
Rose and Anchor Tattoos
A Rose and Anchor tattoo design generally symbolizes Love, Honor, Loyalty, and the Ultimate Sacrifice. Roses are associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite (who's always shown with a crown of roses) and legend has it that roses immediately grew at the spot where Christ was crucified, a true symbol of the Ultimate Sacrifice.
The color of the rose impacts the significance of tattoo. Anchor tattoo designs with a pink rose represents loyalty to your first love or an innocent person, like a child. A red rose signifies Love and Passion, as well as paying homage to someone who has performed the ultimate sacrifice by dying in the line of duty. Anchor tattoo designs with red roses are the most popular variation of the series, because many people can identify with losing loved ones.
Anchor Heart Tattoos
The heart represents the strengthening of bonds, Love, Joy, and Compassion, so when coupled with an anchor, it's no surprise that these tattoo designs are popular with lovers. Anchor Heart tattoo designs generally symbolize Stability and Security in your love life and the formation of a strong connection with someone special.
Tribal Anchor Tattoos
The life of a sailor is one filled with long voyages to exotic lands. It isn't uncommon for sailors to create tattoo design that have been influenced by numerous indigenous cultures. Tribal tattoo designs are deeply rooted in Nature, Family, and Culture. Tribal Anchor tattoos symbolize a strong bond with Family or a particular culture.
Celtic Anchor Tattoos
Celtic symbols are one of the many cultural influences that sailors picked up on their many voyages. The designs symbolize an interdependence of spiritual elements and a connection with the Earth. In a sense, a Celtic Anchor tattoo design represents Loyalty and a link to the Irish culture.
Anchor Tattoos with Cartoon Characters
Many persons love the 'tongue in cheek' approach to their anchor tattoos. They usually add a playful element to their design by incorporating beloved cartoon characters.
Popeye Anchor Tattoos
Popeye is the most popular sailor ever. He was created in 1929 and was used as part of the war effort during WWII to bolster support for the troops on the front lines. Today, Popeye is still a beloved character and he's a way for many sailors to pay homage to the Servicemen of yesteryear, while upholding the proud traditions of the Navy.
Mermaid Anchor Tattoos & Pin-up Girl Anchor Tattoos
A popular variation of this series is the incorporation of a sexy woman, whether she is a mermaid or a pin-up girl. The trend became extremely popular during WWII, when GIs came back from the front lines in Europe. Lots of servicemen love having vivacious vixens on their arm. Wouldn't you?
Regardless of which variation you chose, Anchor tattoos are a great way to show your loyalty and dedication to the service.
5 Best Sources For a Perfect Anchor Tattoo:
Are you looking for the Perfect Anchor tattoo design?
The best tattoo designs are those that have special meaning to you! When choosing the right tattoo for you, think about where you intend to place it on your body. Will you combine it with other elements or let it stand on its own?
Remember that the choices can be confusing and it is not easy to decide which idea is the most suitable for your Permenent design
There are many different sources on the internet to get some inspiration for your next Anchor design. To help you make the best choice, we have listed and reviewed the most popular among them.
and Take your time
to find some nice unique ideas (This process may take days, months or even years!).
Source 2: Free Search Engines & Networks
Other great places you should check are the following search engines and networks.
Feel free to click on one of them
and browse the results you get.
Take a look at some nice designs we have found:
Source 4: Online Galleries For Sign Up Members
"Members Only" Search through Databases. Get instant access to thousands of unique tattoo designs. Browse from the comfort of your home and download any design you like.
Just Click on one of those popular galleries
, sign up and get a Member Access
that allows you to start browsing!
Source 5: PC Download Package
TattooFever.net - Click to Enter
More than 10,000 tattoo designs in PC download package.
In two Minutes you can Download thousands of tattoos
. Enough tattoos for a lifetime (and probably all you will ever need...!)