A lot of people love arrow tattoos because of the simplistic yet beautiful image they portray. Most of the time, the drawing designs come from a combination of using simple lines and little shading. Still, many designs dwell on details of a real arrow and thus involve lots of shading.
By itself, an arrow tattoo has a lot of meaning. Also, the actual meaning will depend a lot on the specific design you decide to go for.
Now, arrow tattoos have become popular over the years because of their versatility. You can ink an arrow tattoo almost anywhere on your body in whichever size you please. It will look good on your finger just as it will covering your entire arm or back.
What do you think an arrow tattoo means? Are there different designs that you can select from? Do arrow tattoos also have variations to the final artwork?
Read on and find out.
What are Arrow Tattoos?
Just like wolf tattoos, arrow tattoos also draw a lot of inspiration from the Native American tribes. In the past, Native Americans used arrows as a significant part of their everyday lives. An arrow was a tool used in both hunting and defending the tribe from danger. And despite its involvement in the face of wars, the arrow symbol also represented peace.
For instance, the Indigenous people used crossed arrows to show that they’ve formed a new alliance. At the same time, the representation of a broken arrow showed that they have ended a war. In other instances, the arrows were also used to reinforce other items like dreamcatchers.
As the years progressed, the arrow tattoo found a new place in the lives of early sailors in America. A popular sign that came then was the ‘arrow through a heart’ tattoo. This art became popular even among the early military men. It signified that even though far away, your love for your family is still strong no matter the conditions.
As an art, you will notice the appeal of an arrow tattoo due to its aesthetics and dynamic message.
What’s the Meaning of an Arrow Tattoo?
There is no singular meaning to what an arrow tattoo represents. As you have seen from the brief history above, the artwork and meaning evolve. You will have to dive into the specific designs and placement to understand what each stands for.
No matter the variation, an arrow tattoo revolves around the following cardinal meanings:
The symbolism of a journey gets its inspiration from an arrow’s movement once shot. You could use it to show that you’re in a quest to achieve something significant in your life. You can also use the symbol to mean that you have completed a transitory path in your life. You may change the type and purpose of your journey is by adding variation or other details.
For example, an ‘arrow shooting through an army dog tag’ could mean that you’ve served in the military. It can also mean that you are against injustices made through the use of military force.
As drawn from the traditional Native Americans, two crossed arrows, in part, means friendship. It meant that two warring sides had decided to come together in unity. Thus, it showed that there was partnership, cohesion, and collaboration amongst the people.
This meaning comes from the most primal application of arrows as seen throughout history — war.
Most communities could inscribe the symbol of an arrow on their banners when they went out for war. This meant to communicate that they were always ready to defend their freedom and way of life. It shows that you are not afraid to protect those that you hold dear to your heart.
This meaning is also from the culture of the Native Americans. The message communicated in specific images hints at your search for peace. A few examples you can look at are the broken arrow and the crossed arrow tattoos. The two symbolize that you don’t want to continue using instruments of war to cause destruction.
An arrow striking through a heart, in the present time, means romantic affection. This is a new meaning if you refer to its history as I highlighted above. The change in meaning comes as a result of how people have used the tattoo of late.
Other variations show cupid shooting arrow tips that have the shape of a heart. Unlike the traditional arrow tips, these show your romantic attraction to someone else.
An arrow tattoo can also represent the power of positivity. In modern trends, you can add other details on the arrow to convey a positive message.
Some people also use a single arrow tattoo to show pride in their masculinity. This meaning came from the ancient days of mankind’s history. During those ages, hunting was a duty only meant for men.
This meaning comes from the idea that arrows move in a single direction when released. They do not stray out of course and will keep on soaring till they hit the target.
In the present day, you may use an arrow tattoo to show that you have focus. It can also represent the idea of keeping on a path no matter the challenges it brings your way. It is a mark of resilience, determination, and a no-giving-up attitude.
One of the popular designs that symbolize this meaning is the ‘arrow through a diamond’ mark.
The arrow symbol also represents courage to greater lengths. It says that despite its small size and build, it is still effective when put to work.
This meaning comes only when you show courage. After going through challenges in your journey, there is only victory waiting at the end. This meaning can be also shown using an arrow tattoo to show that you have gotten the achievement.
Tattoos showing an ‘arrow shooting through a wind current’ signify new beginnings. You can use this on yourself to show that you are on a road to reinventing yourself.
Variations of arrow tattoos
There are several different designs of arrow tattoos that you can pick from. Worth noting is that a slight change in the direction or other detail can change an entire meaning.
Also, there are plenty more other designs that you can check out. The ones I am outlining here are only meant to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Let’s take a look at them below:
1. Single Arrow
A single arrow tattoo image stands for protection. It also means that you can defend yourself or the defenseless.
You can also get identical single arrows as a group of close friends or family to show your bond. This new design communicates that you’ll always belong in a single unit that looks after each other.
The good thing about the single arrow design is that you can add other details to alter the meaning.
2. Broken Arrow
This template shows that you support peace or do not want war. The war doesn’t have to be with a fellow human being. In modern times, the war could be also against your internal self, emotions, fears, or thoughts.
The Broken Arrow design helps you say that you have freed yourself from all the burdens in your life. These burdens may include addiction, negativity, or toxic habits that could otherwise destroy you.
3. Two Arrows Facing Opposite Directions
When two things face opposite directions, it normally signifies tension. It is a way of saying that there is a disagreement between the two opposing forces. In the same spirit, a tattoo showing two arrows facing away from the other symbolizes conflict.
You may be on a verge of war between yourself or a human enemy. This design may also mean that you are on a path of the war with a hidden disease or condition.
4. Bundle of Arrows
This design involves drawing several arrows bundled together. A cropping variation shows several arrows spread out with similar details but linked with a network of strings.
This type of image represents strength in unity. It signifies that you cannot break a bundle of arrows when they’re tied as one. On the contrary, a single shaft of an arrow will give in easily to breakage.
The design sends a message that you believe in working and coexisting together. You will be also saying that you believe humankind only stands a chance when we unite.
5. Two Crossed Arrows
Borrowed from the traditional Native Americans, two crossed arrows represent friendship. If you spot someone rocking this ink, chances are that there’s someone else with the same design elsewhere.
You can decide to change this design however you wish. In many cases, people alter the details to also add in a new idea or meaning to the tattoo. It is a great way to create something unique that only you and the other partner will relate to.
6. A Pulled Back Arrow
A pulled-back arrow tattoo represents a valid theory in life. That, for you to achieve success or greatness, then you must face some challenges first.
This philosophy comes out clearly in the way in which the arrow stays drawn on the bow. At first glance, it may look like a setback, but a wiser mind will see it’s a preparation for greatness.
The other meaning that you can get from this design also is the beginning of a new journey. It shows that you’re aware of the challenges ahead and are not afraid to face them.
7. Arrow Cutting Through a Diamond
This design is always used to show courage. You can use it to symbolize that you’re fighting through a rough patch in life. The fact that the arrow cuts through the hard diamond mean that you shall conquer at the end.
You can pick this theme if you feel like you are about to go against a sensitive issue in your life. You will be, in a way, making a statement that you’ll emerge victorious when the dust settles.
8. Infinity Arrow
The infinity symbol means “without end”. If you inscribe an arrowhead and tail into the sign it means unending drive. You can use this theme to show that you never give up and will always bounce back from a setback.
In spiritual aspects, an infinity arrow tattoo can signify the eternal reincarnation of your being. For Buddhists, the sign represents the eternal bond of your soul to the faith.
9. Feather Arrow
The meaning of a feather arrow tattoo will change depending on the type of feather you pick. For example, using a Native American feather will denote wisdom. On the other hand, using an Egyptian feather will symbolize the power of the ancient gods. Also, in the same breath, using a Christian feather communicates hope or redemption.
All in all, the general meaning is that a higher being represents you in life and its battle.
10. Arrow and Compass Tattoo
The arrow on a compass tattoo is also another popular design worldwide. This design is a symbol of direction in one’s life. It means that your spirit receives guidance from a higher being, most likely, God for Christians.
The meaning still holds even if you come from a different walk of faith. The main message is that your path’s illuminated by a supernatural entity that protects you.
Where to Place Your Arrow Tattoo
An arrow tattoo offers some of the most versatility that you’ll ever see in other tattoos. You may place it on any part of your body and it won’t lose its significance or aesthetic value.
Some of the most popular parts of your body where you can place an arrow tattoo include:
- The forearm
- Your upper sleeve
- Your chest
- On your calf
- Around your ankle
- On your foot
- Upper thigh region
- Behind your ear
- At the back of your hand
- Your back
- Around your waist
Depending on your pain tolerance, you can also make your arrow tattoo as big or as tiny as you want. The meaning carried in the image won’t be in any way affected.
The meaning of an arrow tattoo is very broad depending on the design or artwork you go for. To mention a few, an arrow tattoo could represent courage, love, peace, friendship, or victory.
Also, they’re loved by a lot of people because of the simple beauty they carry.
Hope you had a blast today!
Have you thought about getting an arrow tattoo? What’s your inspiration? Do you like it simple or would you prefer some shading to go with it? Engage me in the Comments Section below.
To meaningful ink jobs…!