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retro nautical tattoo art symbolism

Anchors are probably the single most popular symbol in Traditional American Tattooing. It was, and still is, popular for sailors to get anchor tattoos as a sign of experience and respect for the sea. Even the famous classic cartoon character Popeye has an anchor tattoo on his bicep. Anchor tattoos have been widely popular since the early days of modern tattooing, and retro tattoo designs of all kinds are rising in popularity due to the current trend climate. The modern-retro revival of Rockabilly and Pinup style has embraced traditional tattoos as a staple of the look and lifestyle.

tattooing and the rockabilly lifestyle

The anchor is a very weighted symbol. The Navy, Coast Guard, fishing, and boating enthusiasts are all connected to the anchor. An obvious connection to sailors and those who work on the water is the physical use of an anchor in their work.  The rising of a ships anchor is the symbol of moving forward and rising hope. Many people get anchor tattoos to symbolize personal goals being reached new beginnings forged. Anchors are a metaphor for hope. When we raise the anchor and set sail we venture into a new adventure where freedom, dreams, and aspirations are all brought to light and explored. Dropping the anchor is a symbol of being steadfast and strong; it means commitment. This is that moment when you know you are moored in place. You are sure that you are firmly anchored and safe.

traditional anchor tattoo art

An anchor can also have spiritual connotations dealing with intuition and the meaning of life. There are also religious associations to the anchor symbol. The earliest forms of an anchor were used by early Christians to hide the symbol of the cross from the Greeks. If you dissect the anchor it is a cross resting upon a crescent shape. The anchor symbol represents stability and strength. It is commonly used to signify a strong relationship. Someone may get an anchor tattoo to show that their significant other gives them strength and keeps them steady. The anchor is also a symbol of dedication and hope. It is used with X’s to symbolize the straightedge movement (drug and alcohol free lifestyle).

Although anchors and all things nautical are always fashion staples, right now they are extra huge trends. Anchor belly rings, earrings, plugs, dermal tops, bracelets, necklaces and more are everywhere right now. Preppy yacht club apparel is often accented by anchors. Nautical elements such as stripes, mermaids, shells, rope, and boat parts are often seen in conjunction with and complimenting the anchor.

Both simple and elaborate anchor tattoos as part of a bigger piece or independent are very popular with females and males alike. Anchors surrounded by roses or composed completely of flowers, tribal anchors, girly anchors with bows, and banners or hearts with words complementing the anchor are also common takes on the icon. I have seen anchor tattoos under the collar bone on each side, the hand, legs, back, side, and pretty much anywhere else you can imagine being tattooed.  Anchor accessories and tattoos remind us that when we are firmly anchored when we remain unwavering and confidently uphold strength, resolve, and tranquility amidst the raging waves of chaotic emotion which are always tossing themselves all around us.

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