Phoenix Tattoo Meaning
For ages, people of various races have modified their bodies in parts or whole for fashion or to pass a message. These modifications have been made by applying pigments, dyes, or ink on a given body part to create a specific design. These designs are infused into the part of the skin known as the dermis layer, causing remarkable changes in skin pigmentation. The designs can either be temporary or permanent, and they are known as tattoos, whereas tattooing is the art of making tattoos.
- Over time, tattoos have been used in different ways of expression. Many lovers of body art have used it to express their beliefs or show off their personalities. Interestingly, most people that use tattoos make strong statements, albeit silently. Several objects and forms are modeled to meet the hidden thoughts, desires, expressions, or the wearer’s general disposition. Some of the objects and forms used include feathers, texts, fish, and flowers of diverse shades, stars, and birds of various species, etc. There are no limits to the extent of the creativity that could be applied as long as the individual’s intentions are met. Whatever design that is used bears relatable significance on the bearer.
- The phoenix tattoo is among the numerous options of designs that could catch the interest of the body art enthusiasts. Not only is the design a beautiful sight to behold, but the phoenix bird also has a lot of historical and mythical significance. This unusual bird has been presented in various cultures in several interesting ways. Though the concept held by different cultures may differ, the ideology behind the bird’s significance is the same: it depicts something positive: Prosperity, grace, resilience, invincibility, and royalty are some of the virtues associated with the bird.
- People who want to go for body art often look for something beautiful and meaningful. It doesn’t stop there; they also consider whether it is suitable for their gender. Phoenix drawings have proved over time that it could meet all the required considerations. Male and female tattoo lovers would have the phoenix bird tattoo inked on their body and still feel comfortable having it on their skin. It can be said that this tattoo design is gender-neutral. It is one of the most popular body art designs amongst the various options out there, and its aesthetic appeal is unrivaled. No wonder many individuals, including stars and celebrities, love to wear it.
- The phoenix tattoo never goes out of fashion. The beauty, the fantastic history, the variability of the designs, the legend, and the strong symbolism, might all have been the contributing factors to this narrative. Unarguably, the phoenix is a beautiful creature, and everyone loves beauty. The artwork usually comes out captivating and attention-grabbing. The strong symbolism is also unique, unlike many other objects of tattoo drawing. It can be placed alone as a single object and can be used dynamically with other historical and mythical symbols for a more aesthetic appeal.
- When the phoenix bird design is created in combination with other objects or features, the resultant pattern is often sophisticated. Standalone phoenix image is already a beautiful sight to behold. The color combinations of red, yellow, purple, and purple, when used artistically, would create a stunning artwork any day and in any clime. Since these exiting colors represent the phoenix bird, the drawings are always classy. Now, think of combining this beautiful image with other mythical creatures such as the dragon, or historical elements such as the fire. The resultant effect will be remarkable.
- The phoenix tattoo can also come in black color. No doubt, the phoenix is a beautiful bird and is represented by a variety of bright colors. However, having multi-colored phoenix tattoos come with a price. Colored tattoo images are more expensive and are more painful at the point of the design. Some individuals may be fans of the phoenix design but would not want to suffer the additional stress associated with having it. What happens is that they opt for the black phoenix bird tattoo, which may not be as visible as the colored tattoo but as classy.
- Phoenix tattoos also come in different shades that represent various demographics. While the phoenix bird has been known for its multiple bright colors, some demographics have identified the historical bird with specific color modules. The Greeks choose to associate the scarlet and gold colors to the bird. The reason for this color associated has not been clearly stated. But generally, in Greek culture, the bird is perceived to have much significance to the sun. In the Chinese legend, the phoenix is regarded as a creature with a mix of both dark and bright colors. Green, black, red, yellow, and white are the popular colors associated with the bird. Individual cultures also tend to relate the phoenix with particular objects or concepts. To create more sophisticated artistry, the Chinese have combined drawings of flames with the bird. In some cases, initials, motivational quotes, names of loved ones or pets have been added to the regular phoenix bird drawing to display gain more sophistry.
- In the discourse about the phoenix tattoo, it should also be noted that not everyone is a fan of body art. Conservative individuals do not find the idea of body art appealing. For some, it might be for religious reasons, while for others, it might be due to a simple lack of interest in fashion trends. But the art of tattooing has become quite trendy in recent years. Regardless of the position of naysayers, tattoo lovers have seen the art as an avenue of self-expression. Deepest convictions are disclosed without being confrontational. Realistically, body art has become a part of our contemporary lives and commands more fans than nonfans. It expresses beauty, and freedom of expression that comes with it is priceless.
Phoenix Tattoo History
Several ancient cultures with related perceptions have addressed the concept of the phoenix. The phoenix may have been represented with different terminology, outward identification, or history, but the supernatural significance of the bird has been consistent. All the dominant ancient cultures seem to agree that there was a magical bird that regenerated itself by burning itself in a fire and coming back to life afterward. They also seem to agree that this bird had extraordinary powers and signified honorable virtues.
- The Egyptian version of the concept of the phoenix has every similarity of the other ancient cultures. The Egyptians referred to the bird as Bennu and perceived it as a creature that came from a sacred tree. The legend implied that Bennu was a recreation of Ra, the sun god. The features of Bennu were also likened to that of heron – the long-legged freshwater and coastal bird.
- The Greek mythology recognized the phoenix as a mythical bird that was associated with the sun. The word ‘phoenix’ is of Greek origin. According to the legend, the bird’s origin is traceable to a neighboring nationality, Ethiopia. The myth around this extraordinary creature led to their belief that the bird shared similar characteristics with the sun. The story around the phoenix suggests that it is invincible and can recreate itself in cycles on to infinity. The sun, on its part, works in infinity, having the capacity to go down in the evening and come up again in the morning, running in everlasting cycles. The phoenix bird is associated with radiance and beauty, which has been represented in several bright colors. In the same manner, the sun radiates and brings brightness to the world, conveying beauty.
- Ancient Indian legend told the story of a bird that built a great flame around itself and recreated itself in the process. The bird was called, Garuda, and the legend aligns with other stories posted by different nationalities. The Ramayana is an epic Indian poem that talked about the Garuda. There’s slight deviance in the description of the bird. The Garuda has been described as having features of both man and eagle, with wings on its rear. This bird has an impressive perception, and the reason is not farfetched.
- Ancient legend suggests that the phoenix used branches from the cypress to create a nest. Notably, the bird’s mannerisms differed from those of other birds in so many ways. Other birds followed the natural processes of recreation by laying eggs and reproducing, but not the phoenix. According to Indian mythology, the bird would wait for the evening time, and then it would die only come to life afterward. That is to say, it could live forever. It could achieve this by building heat around itself and allowing itself to be consumed by the flame. Three days later, it would come back to life as a chick, and the cycle would keep going indefinitely.
- Chinese mythology has an animal they consider the most important in the world; it is called the dragon. So, to the Chinese, the phoenix is the second most important animal in history and was credited with feminine virtues such as kindness and grace. The bird’s feathers are shown in yellow colors while other colors black, green, red, and white adorn the body.
- Ancient Christianity also had a perception of the phoenix. The Christians of old saw the historical bird’s significance and associated it with the basic principles of the Christian faith. Christianity teaches that Jesus died, resurrected, and now lives in immortality. On its part, the phoenix is a mythical bird that renewed its life by laying it down to burn in a fire, after which it comes back to life, renewed. So, the Christians saw the similarity in the concept of renewal of life in both the bird and the Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Going further, the story about the phoenix bird coming back to life after three days looks so much like the record about Jesus rising from death after three days. Hence, the early Christians saw the candid similitude in both concepts and held the phoenix in high esteem.
- The phoenix symbolism within the contemporary context is not different from that of ancient times. Today, the bird is still associated with the idea of renewal and starting life anew. However, it has become more fashionable as most celebrities and stars are found displaying the phoenix drawings with pride. The phoenix bird tattoo would often be seen on an individual who has been through challenging times, overcame, and rose again.
- Tattoo enthusiasts brandish this mystical bird symbol as a mark of emerging a winner after being subjected to the flames of life. For them, it is about beating the challenges of life and surviving difficult times. It represents victory over death and the emergence of immortality.
- The phoenix also stands for good virtues such as goodness, reliability, duty, prosperity, and kindness. The contemporary society still has this idea of surviving the storms life and coming out victorious. Surviving the storms of life is still likened to coming out from the flames. There is also this saying the finest gold is that which passed through the hottest fire. The toughest guys are, therefore, those who not only survived the greatest heat but also experienced a rebirth. They are celebrated as heroes.
- All of these contribute to the reason why tattoo lovers would want to identify with the phoenix tattoo, which represents strength and survival. The fellow that survived the worst conditions comes out a better person, refined, rebirthed, and ready to win. This is invincibility – the same virtue associated with the fabled phoenix.
- Legends and Stories about the Phoenix
- The phoenix is known as the mystical fire-bird in many ancient cultures, especially the Egyptian, Phoenician, and Greek. These ancient cultures hold the bird in a place of great importance in their mythology. Both Greek and Egyptian mythology recognize the phoenix as a mystical bird that sings very sweetly while radiating in its purple, gold, and scarlet wings. The concept of the phoenix bird is quite legendry. The stories behind the bird have been as intriguing as they have been diverse.
- Greek mythology refers to the purple-red color as that which is associated with the phoenix. The purple-red color represents fire. Hence according to this narrative, the phoenix is on the same page with fire. The phoenix has also been referenced in the Greek legend as a flaming bird. The story has been told of how the bird uses fragrant tree branches to construct its nest, a ritual which it performs every half-millennium. After each cycle of 500 years, the bird sets itself up to be killed in a fire. The phoenix comes back to life after three days of self-mortification in the form of a new baby bird. Arising from its ashes, it springs back to life.
- The account of the phoenix in Egyptian mythology goes beyond the bird’s coming back to life as a newborn chick. According to the Egyptian legend, this heroic bird burns itself into ashes at the end of each life cycle. From the ashes, it emerges as a baby bird and carries the same ashes that had been embalmed and takes it to Heliopolis – a major Egyptian city. Historically, the city had been regarded as the city of the sun. The baby phoenix now hands over the ashes to the sun.
- Another legend holds that the phoenix lived a solitary life. According to this mythological story, the bird lives in solitude for hundreds of years, after which it lays an egg into a nest it has earlier constructed. It then makes a fire to burn up the nest and the egg and finally has itself burnt in the fire. It then comes back from the flames, a baby bird much stronger than in its previous existence.
- There is also another legend that holds that the phoenix lived in cycles of a thousand years. According to this mythology, at the end of every millennium, the bird builds a nest made of myrrh twigs. While inside the nest, it sets up a fire that will burn itself to death. It magically returns to life after three days to live for another cycle of one thousand years. This cycle is repeated indefinitely as the bird keeps rebirthing itself.
- Regardless of the little twists in the mythology of the phoenix as held by various ancient nationalities and cultures, the bird has been upheld as a heroic creature. It has also been attributed to similar great virtues and has been associated with multiple bright colors. These amazing qualities have attracted much interest in the concept of the phoenix.
Phoenix in World Cultures
The phoenix has been a recurring concept across history. There might be slight differences in various accounts of a mystical bird that possessed virtuous attributes. There might be differences in the numerous color identifications. There might be inconsistencies in the accounts of the length of time that this heroic bird lived in each life cycle. However, the unifying variables in the legends held by different cultures are much stronger.
- Irrespective of the twists found in the stories about the tribal phoenix, the bird has been generally associated with multiple bright colors, beauty, and elegance. The bird has been unanimously accorded with amazing virtues such as strength, royalty, and immortality. Consequently, the significance of the phoenix bird has been perceived as nothing short of awe-inspiring in various traditions.
- The Greek culture has a rich historical relationship with the phoenix notion. ‘Phoenix’ is a word that sprang up from the ancient Greek word ‘phoînix.’ The Greek culture associated the phoenix with the sun. The sun goes down every day and comes up the next day, bright and beautiful in a perpetual cycle. In the same manner, the phoenix recycles its life over a constant period. The bird grows old just like the sunsets and renews its life just like the sunrises the next morning. At maturity, the phoenix consumes its own life and regenerates to a new life as the cycle is sustained in perpetuity. In the same way, the sunsets happen every evening and rise at dawn in perpetuity.
- In Egyptian culture, the phoenix was referred to as Bennu. In Egyptian mythology, Bennu came into existence from a sacred burning tree. Bennu was likened to a heron and was esteemed as the soul of Ra. Ra was held in Egyptian mythology as the god of the sun. According to the Egyptian legend, Bennu never shared the same attributes with other birds. It lived in cycles. Upon maturity, the bird burns itself in a fire to come back to life renewed. Three days after it has burnt itself, the baby bird carries the embalmment to Heliopolis – the city of the Sun.
- The phoenix has been mentioned in some Asian cultures. The Japanese mythology recognized the bird in two variants classified by gender. The Ho-Oo is the male bird, whereas the Ho-Ou is the female bird. The Ho-Oo stands for immortality and is used to represent royalty. The Japanese have some unique and interesting symbolism. Sometimes these symbols are combined to represent a specific entity. Most of these combinations are expressed in the Japanese phoenix tattoo.
- The Chinese mythology referenced the phoenix as Feng Huang. According to Chinese mythology, Feng Huang is the leader of all birds and is identified in five primary colors that tally with five primary elements. Just like the Japanese, the concept of the phoenix in Chinese mythology has a gender twist. Its symbol is the exclusive reserve for the Empress – feminine energy, whereas masculine energy is identified with the symbol of the dragon.
- The Indian culture has an interesting version of the concept of the phoenix, just like other individual cultures. According to the Indian legend, the bird was identified by the name Garuda. Described as a mystic character that had the likeness of a man with wings and a beak like an eagle, the Garuda is said to have come from Ramayana.
- Early Christians perceived the phoenix as having some significance in the Christian tradition. They believed that the attributes of the mythical bird could be compared to the concept of Christ’s death and resurrection. As the phoenix bird renews its life by laying it down to be consumed by fire, so did Christ die and resurrected into a new life of immortality.
- In the Jewish culture, the phoenix is seen as one creature that did not corrupt itself. The Jewish legend holds that the phoenix refrained from eating the forbidden fruit by consuming itself in a fire and regenerating back to life after three days. To the Jews, the bird signifies overcoming temptation, living a life of mortification, and renewal.
- Rome had one of the most powerful empires in the history of humanity. In ancient Roman culture, the phoenix represented the longevity of the Empire. Authorities had the phoenix symbol engraved on the coins, which signified the longevity of the Empire. This mode of identification was triggered by the mystic bird’s ability to recycle its life in cycles over a continual time frame.
Phoenix Tattoo Design Options
The phoenix tattoo can be worn as a standalone design and still be appealing to the eyes. It can be even more appealing when some elements are introduced to create a more dynamic effect. Phoenix tattoos are mostly done in color. The reason for this is not farfetched. Across nationalities, the phoenix has been associated with bright colors. This has impacted regular phoenix tattoos. Popular bright colors such as red, purple, orange, and yellow have been used to identify the bird. Notably, phoenix tattoos come in various design options, as we shall see. Do you intend to have a phoenix bird tattoo inked on your body? You may want to watch out for the following options.
- The phoenix heart tattoo – here, the phoenix is represented by a heart. Roses are adorned with a heart shape at the center are displayed. More flowers are seen around the drawing. They are positioned around the central part of the chest, running down to the abdominal area. If expertly done, the outcome gives the bearer a cute and commanding appearance.
- The egg and phoenix tattoo –this type seems to command the interest of the most optimistic people. This design signifies a new beginning. Here, the drawing of an egg is combined with that of a mature phoenix to depict the inner feeling of a new lease of life that could have come after a stormy life session. This is a cute design and very appealing to the eyes. It can be placed on any part of the body based on individual preferences. If you believe that tough situations will always turn around, you may consider getting this tattoo design.
- The phoenix landing tattoo – this design displays the image of a descending phoenix. It signifies a new dawn or a new beginning. You might as well check out this design if you are a fan of simplicity laced with cuteness.
- The abstract phoenix tattoo – this type can only be done properly by an expert tattoo artist. Those who love abstract art would most like want to take a shot at this. Lines carved in such a way as to pass subtle messages are combined to create an artistic masterpiece. Here, the wings and the tail are merged to provide an abstract effect. The visual effect could be mild but quite striking.
- The phoenix on fire tattoo – as we have seen so far, the phoenix recycles its life by setting itself on fire, after which a baby bird emerges. This design best captures that scenario where the heroic bird is supposed to take the specific action associated with fire. It signifies a new birth and a new beginning.
- The tribal phoenix tattoo – Here, curved line drawings are artistically created to sample a phoenix bird. This type of design has an eye-catching effect and is based on various forms of art from diverse nationalities. Tattoo freaks love this form of body art. It requires that the tattooist pays detailed attention to the creation of the visible areas. This design also triggers ideas for new tattoo designs. It is a beauty to behold.
- The Phoenix in flight tattoo – this is another very classy design. It showcases the phoenix in motion with the wings spread out. Artists usually pay much attention to the tail area of the bird. This design can be seen spreading around the back. Services of a professional tattooist are required to produce the kind of beauty that this type of drawing represents. It also expresses a subtle form of naughtiness.
- The Phoenix and Chinese dragon – in Chinese mythology, the dragon represents the Emperor, whereas the phoenix is identified with the Empress. As should be expected, a subtle combination of a phoenix and a dragon would demand some form of sophistry as well as make for a complex drawing. This kind of drawing will also require much space on the body surface. Both creatures are unique and historically significant, and therefore attention to details may be needed to bring out the essence and the beauty.
- The Standalone phoenix – Here, the phoenix is drawn alone without any additional element. This heroic bird is already a bright colored and magnificent looking creature, as presented by legend. The artist requires a whole lot of detailed attention to bring out the captivating features of the bird. Detailed attention is required to reproduce the various bright colors associated with the bird. The outcome puts the phoenix on display covering the body area without interference from any other object.
Best Spots for a Phoenix Tattoo
People have different considerations when they desire to have a tattoo design on their body. For some, it might be simply for fun, while others might have a message they want to send to the public or anyone that cares. But most people that have the phoenix bird drawing inked on their body love to wear the tattoo because of the inspiration and spiritual power they want to draw from such images.
- However, when considering getting a phoenix tattoo, it is important to know exactly what you want and who you are. Whether you want to have this heroic bird drawing for its beauty or a statement, your personality, your job, and the image you want to put up with are to be properly weighed. This is because the phoenix is represented in several bright colors, which require a lot of space to be properly captured. The phoenix is also synonymous with honor, prestige, prosperity, and strength.
- You wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time and resources to place a tattoo where it may never be noticed by anyone. Also, you wouldn’t want to place a tattoo on the part of your body where it would go against the ethics of your workplace or goes against your values. You may want to have your body art on a spot that would be creative and, at the same time, in agreement with your personality. Let’s look at some common spots for the placement of phoenix tattoos.
- The Chest – while there are several bird tattoos out there, the phoenix is the one that appears cutest and most awesome. The mystic bird is also very colorful and commands prestige. For these qualities to be properly represented in a single drawing, it requires space for its placement. For wider designs, you may think of placing it at the top of the chest.
- If you want to have a phoenix design that is large enough with its wings outstretched, the back will be a good place to consider. Everyone’s back is relatively flat and probably the widest part of the body. For a large drawing that captures every detail of what the phoenix represents, the top of the back would be a great spot. The back can contain a single image of the phoenix, and it can also be a good location to insert images of other objects or creatures that can pair up with the phoenix.
- Legs – the upper part of the leg is large enough to contain a phoenix design. This part of the body is ideal for displaying your creativity if you are a lover of artistic sophistry. A bold image of a colorful phoenix wrapping itself around your leg will be an attention grabber. It is also a good pair up the phoenix with other elements such as the feathers, fire, and other popular birds. The leg is a good place to go wild on creativity as it is very easy to display. Whether in the comfort of your home with your loved ones or out in summer, your tattoo can be quite visible. The best part is that you have the whole of the area running from your thigh down to your low leg to ink your best designs.
- The upper arm – the upper arm would be a good place to have your phoenix tattoo placed. Lovers of sleeveless wear would find this spot priceless to show off their sensuality. The upper arm would be a good spot for Phoenix in flight tattoo, phoenix landing tattoo, and phoenix on fire tattoo. Models of different genders, people in sports, and particularly bodybuilders love this part of the body for placing tattoos. It gives provides them a good spot to display creativity or to show off their inspiration. If you are considering getting inked a phoenix drawing, you may have to think about this.
- The lower arm – this is an easily exposed part of the body. Whether you are at home, at your job, or in the coffee shop, a little showoff of the body art would suffice. Although not as large as the upper arm, the lower arm serves as a good spot to have a smaller but visible drawing of the phoenix. It can also provide the space to combine the phoenix with other elements. Short messages can also be added either horizontally or vertically. If you are a fan of standalone phoenix or having the bird drawn sideways, the lower arm could be the best option for you.
- The Ribs – A large tattoo of a bird that starts from the stomach and ends at the back can appear very classy. A large drawing of the phoenix with its wings spreading, in the same manner, would appear even more elegant. The ribs are a good spot for both large and small tattoos. They also provide a good space to combine the phoenix with other objects. An expert tattoo artist would find a good space on this part of the body to play with all the bright colors associated with the phoenix bird. It is also a good spot to pay attention to details. Having the phoenix heart tattoo on the left side of the rib would be a good idea. The phoenix and egg tattoo will also fit into this part of the body.
- Other parts of the body – It is safe to say that phoenix tattoos look best when they come in medium or large sizes. History has projected the phoenix as a bird that commands respect; therefore, wearers of phoenix tattoos also project respect. That is why most people who want to have it inked on them usually request for larger and more visible sizes.
- However, phoenix drawings can also be placed on other parts of the body other than the ones mentioned above. The neck, shoulder, ankle, back of the hand, and the finger are all good spots for smaller sized phoenix tattoos. Though the images might not be as bold and visible as the ones described earlier, they can also appear very eye-catching, especially at close shots. There may not be space for attention to detail, but a good body artist can make use of the tiny space to create something beautiful.
- The neck may not be the best place to combine the phoenix drawing with other elements, but a well-designed standalone phoenix design will be very classy. For those who like to pass their innermost feelings subtly, a rising phoenix design on the ankle will suffice. A phoenix drawing concealed on the finger may not be quite visible, but it can appear quite adorable upon close contact or close shot.
As we have seen so far, phoenix tattoos are best captured in colors. When it is done in a single color, it might be less visible, but it does not reduce the virtues associated with the mystic bird. The beauty of phoenix tattoos is that they’re gender-neutral and can be worn by people of different ages. The phoenix designs are rich with symbolic meanings. When properly done by an expert tattoo artist, the body art would come out quite captivating.