Pirate tattoos: Symbolism and popular symbols - VeAn Tattoo
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Skull and bottle of rum: what do pirate tattoos mean?

Pirate tattoos are a rather popular trend in tattoo art.

Their meaning varies greatly depending on the specific design and context. Most often, sketches of pirate themes symbolize the spirit of freedom, adventure and rebellion.

Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos


According to popular legend, Captain Cook discovered tattoo culture in the 1790s.

Traveling to New Zealand and Tahiti, the sailor bought the right to this practice and imported it to the UK. However, according to research, the first mention of tattoos in England date back much earlier. And although there is no clear history of the first tattoos that appeared in the country, Captain James Cook undoubtedly became the driving force for their popularization.

Interesting fact: in fact, Captain Cook brought to Europe only the term "tattoo" and emotions from the new find, and not the practice as such.

A trip to Tahiti, where body art flourished, made an incredible impression on the captain and his team. Inspired by what they saw, the sailors eventually applied the first tattoo to themselves. To do this, they used gunpowder or ordinary ink.

Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos

Main motives and moods

Pirate tattoos are often filled with symbolism that reflects the views and values of their owner.

They can also showa person's experience or ambitions.

Common themes of pirate tattoo designs are:

  • Freedom.
  • Adventurism.
  • Thirst for adventure.
  • Self-sufficiency.
  • Rebellion and protest.
  • Lack of porosity.
  • Celebration of life and its unpredictability.
  • Uprising.
  • Independence.
  • Excitement.
Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos

Symbolism and popular symbols

Ships and maritime symbolism speak of a connection with the open ocean.

The compass on the body can determine the vector, give a sense of navigation. The image symbolizes the desire for research and the study of new territories.

The skull with bones and/or rum are associated directly with pirates. Tattoos with them symbolize rebelliousness, danger, death and risk. The body image of a treasury or treasure can symbolize the search for goals and their achievement.

Symbols of combat skills and readiness to protect their own interests are a sword and a pistol. A tattoo with a mysterious pirate mask will talk about mystery and the ability to hide true intentions. And the chains and chained hands in them are about the value of freedom and the struggle for independence.

Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos
Features of colors

An important role in pirate tattoos is played by colors that have their own symbolism.

Usually they were used to reflect personal experience, temperament, certain ideas or values of the pirate. This tradition has survived to this day.

In pirate tattoos, colors have an important symbolic meaning. They are often used to reflect the personality and experience of a pirate, as well as to convey certain ideas or values.

Symbolism of colors:

  • Black: carries death, mysticism, danger, power and authority.
  • Red embodies the thirst for adventure, energy, and the risk associated with pirate activity.
  • Blue demonstrates the sea expanses. This color in pirate tattoos reflects the freedom of travel and the limitless possibilities that they give.
  • Brown is a symbol of the received and reflexed experience. He also hints at the antiquity of the golden era of pirates.
  • Green indicates a connection with nature, the ability to survive in difficult conditions. This is the color of life and luck.
  • White reflects the freshness of the sea air. A symbol of purity of intentions and innocence, which are often not discerned by pirate appearance.

These colors not only give beauty to tattoos, but also deeply rooted in pirate culture. Since ancient times, they help to express various aspects of the life of a sailor and remain relevant in tattoo culture to this day.

Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos
Pirate tattoos
  1. English Pirates.
    1. Among the classic sea tattoos are often found images of English pirates. Mostly these are Henry Morgan, Charles Wayne, Steed Bennett (also known as the gentleman pirate), Captain Kid, An Ig and Mary Reed, Francis Drake, Blackbeard, etc. A tattoo with these figures expresses respect for the English tradition of piracy.
  2. Kraken.
    1. The legendary Kraken is a mythical sea creature with an infamous reputation. Monster is drowning the largest ships in the open sea. Despite the fact that the image of Kraken originates in Scandinavian mythology, over the years it has migrated to hundreds of stories among sailors, pirates and fishermen. Octopus of incredible size has long been admired by those who love mythology. Its image represents strength, control over powerful and destructive energy and is a demonstration of victory over the disease or overcoming personal psychological trauma.
  3. Map of hidden treasure.
    1. The tattoo may consist of a stylized treasure map and pirate symbols. A compass with a map will give the composition authenticity.
  4. The Pirate Flag.
    1. Place a classic black flag on the sketch with a white skull and crossing the bones below it. You can also add personal elements here. For example, the symbolic name of the ship or the life motto. Having decided on the body image, motive, idea and style, it is important to turn to a specialist. Consult with an experienced artist to create an original pirate sketch. And remember - tattoos are as unique as the artist creating them.
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