There’s a great deal of symbolism in turtle tattoos especially those that represent the Native American stories of creation. In some versions of the story, it was the creation of the world, while in others it represents the creation of North America. In either case it represents survival, and a spirit of harmony.
According to most of these stories, Sky Woman was looking down from the sky through a hole she had found when suddenly she fell through and plummeted into the vast waters below. Concerned for her life, the Great Sea Turtle swam deep to the bottom of the waters, scooped up some earth on its back, and carried it back to the surface as a place for Sky Woman to stand on.
In time, other creatures came to assist with Sky Woman’s survival until the back of the Great Sea Turtle became an island complete with vegetation and teeming with life. Other Sky People eventually came down to live with Sky Woman and became the People of Turtle Island.
It really is a touching story that shows how all living things depend on each other to survive.
The visuals for turtle tattoos depicting this story can be rather nice as you can see below. The one on the right symbolizes the cycles of life renewing themselves on the turtle’s back. The center one is unmistakably native, showing the medicine wheel, while the left turtle tattoo actually has Turtle Island (North America) drawn right on the turtle, with the entire image surrounded by the circle of life.
To me, a tattoo should mean something. That’s why I go for these types of turtle tattoos that remind me of things like the sacredness of life and how our universe is a harmonious symphony thriving on itself and interdependent for survival.
Don’t get me wrong, eagle tattoos are cool, and wolf and black panther tattoos are really nice looking too. But turtle tattoos get me right in my Native American background.
Turtles are the symbol of longevity. It’s believed that a turtle’s heart will continue to beat long after its dead, and so because of this determination to stay alive, it represents strength, fortitude, and power of spirit.
Adding to this longevity symbolism, turtles have been known to live over a hundred years, with some getting as old as two hundred years old. And as a species, turtles have been around for over 230 million years and existed before the dinosaurs.
Thus I like the strength of the turtle symbol and so I lean towards a turtle tattoo over any other.
Besides, a nicely placed turtle tattoo looks good whether its large or small. For some of the others you need size to show detail, but turtle tattoos can look good no matter how big or tiny they are.
I found a few nice examples of turtle tattoos just rummaging around online. Thought you’d like to see them.
Personally, I prefer the more abstract images like the tribal designs, or the turtle tattoo above with all the color and image-within-image look. But there are all kinds of templates, or stencils you can choose from. In fact, you could even design your own and have a professional draw it out so you’ll have something unique.
If you’re good with graphics software like Photoshop, you could probably even render a real picture of a turtle and turn it into an abstract or outline image you could print out and bring to your favorite tattoo shop. Some tattoo shops will allow you to bring in your own designs, especially the real good ones with real artists employed.
Though the ones above are nice, I found some much better designs for turtle tattoos in this gallery.
A lot of people get a tattoo on impulse. The majority of those often regret it. But if you’re really thinking about getting a turtle tattoo or any other kind of tattoo for that matter, there are things you can do to make an intelligent decision.
Just remember, once you go under the needle you’ve got something permanent. There’s no going back!
So be sure of what you want before you go ahead and get any old thing that’s available at your local tattoo shop. Shop around for ideas and designs that will best suit, not only your desires, but also your body style.
I’ve talked to many of my tattooed friends who wished they had put their tattoos in a different spot, had gotten it larger, smaller, or turned just a bit. For them its too late, but if you’re just in the planning stage there’s plenty you can do ahead of time to avoid these regrets.
Here are a couple of suggestions . . .
Talk to a Pro
If you go into a reputable tattoo shop and let the people in there know that you’re unsure about what you want or where you want your tattoo to go, they’ll be more than happy to spend the time with you. These pros know what they’re doing, so they’ll be able to make some suggestions based on your preferences. They know what looks good, and based on your body style, shape and size, they can give you a much higher level of concept for tattoo size, design and placement.
Professional tattoo artists know just the right questions to ask you. Things you may not have even thought of. So DO speak candidly with a pro. Approach them in “shopping around” mode rather than with an “I’m ready to do this” attitude and they’ll be happy to tell you everything they know to give you the best results.
Just remember one thing. If you go into a tattoo shop and try to talk to the artists, but they rush you into a decision, leave!
Take a Test Drive
A few tattoo shops will allow you to try out a tattoo before you actually have the ink applied to your body. They can create a decal of the design you’re thinking of getting that you can place on yourself.
You can also download designs onto your computer and print them out on special decal paper to try out. Tattoo Johnny.com has many real nice turtle tattoo designs that you can get for either stencil download or their famous “Tattoo Test Drive” decals.
A Combination of Both
Now this doesn’t always work because some tattoo shops will only allow you to pick from their selection, but the real professionals are usually open to suggestion and can apply and design. So if you find one online, just take the printed copy into the shop and ask them to work with you on fitting it to your particular body style.
They’ll either be able to use the design just as you downloaded it, or they can modify it to fit you better.
Let’s face it, you’re going to have your turtle tattoo on you for the rest of your life. Not something you’d want to do without a little planning first.
There’s a method of tattooing that’s been used for centuries that can also provide you assistance in deciding which of the many turtle tattoos is the right one for you. Henna tattoos!
Henna tattoos, also known as Mehndi are not considered “real” tattoos. The process merely stains several layers of the skin and will gradually disappear to nothing over the course of a few days to a week or two, depending on how long you apply it for. The image it leaves is a reddish brown in color and will blend nicely with most skin tones.
The way to make henna ready for skin pigmenting is to ground the dried leaves into a power. This powder is mixed with lemon juice, strong tea, or other mildly acidic liquids. Essential oils with high levels of monoterpene alcohols such as tea tree, eucalyptus, or lavender will improve skin stain characteristics.
The henna paste isn’t injected into the skin, but is applied by caking it on to the desired location. This can get tricky because, as the paste dries, it tends to fall off. If not prevented, it can create uneven stains that will leave something to be desired. So covering the location with a lemon/sugar mix, or simply adding some sugar to the paste itself will keep it from drying out.
Absolutely, positively avoid using “black henna” as its known to cause serious infections. Black henna isn’t really henna at all, but a chemical that acts like it although with serious side effects. If you stick to real henna, you’ll be perfectly fine. Henna has been used for eons as a medicinal plant with properties that fight infection and bacteria. So you’ll have nothing to worry about there.
Your henna tattoo will look more orange than anything else to begin with. But after a few days, it’ll start to darken to a reddish brown.
One misconception is that henna fades. It doesn’t, but because its not an ink or injected deep within the skin, as your skin exfoliates naturally, the layers of henna drop off with it until its eventually gone.
Temporary henna tattoos have become really popular lately. One reason for this is because of all the good quality henna tattoo kits available. Using a henna tattoo kit saves a ton of preparation and will provide everything you’ll need for application.
So there’s absolutely no reason to rush off and go under the needle to get your turtle tattoos. You have alternatives, and the means to get professional advice. Use them so you can enjoy your new tattoo rather than regretting a hasty decision.