Strength is something everyone can relate to. Whether we have it now, have shown it in the past or need it in the future, it is a human quality much in demand. It can mean different things to people, which is why it is such a great meaning to have in mind when looking for a new tattoo design.
For some people, strength might symbolize their physical might. For others, it could mean mental strength and endurance. Some people may be choosing a design that expresses their strength in the face of physical or emotional pain. Whatever the reason, with so many rich possibilities to choose from, investing the time in selecting the right design to express personal strength will be an enjoyable process.
Choosing single words and characters from different languages that literally mean strength or capture the overall meaning is definitely worth considering. On the other hand, it’s also a very visible statement of strength to have a large tattoo done. The endurance it takes to sit for the design to be executed speaks volumes about the wearer’s fortitude. It’s also a great opportunity to go for a spectacular design that is a work of art as well as meaningful to the wearer.
An eagle tattoo design can carry a range of meanings for the wearer, including strength. In Ancient Greece, the eagle represented masculine strength and virility. The eagle was the bird of prey the Greeks most closely associated with the god of sky and thunder, Zeus. As the King of Gods, who ruled on Mount Olympus, his symbol is an eagle carrying a lightning bolt in its beak.
Native Americans also believed the eagle was a symbol of lightning and thunderbolts, representing spiritual strength and power. An eagle tattoo design with wings spread in full flight looks amazing across the chest or back.
The singer Justin Bieber has an eagle in flight tattooed across his abdomen, but that’s not his only tattoo representing strength. He also has a bear on the right side of his chest and a lion on the left. Perhaps being in the public eye so much, Bieber needs all the strength he can get.
The lion is the archetypal animal representing strength as well as courage. It also symbolizes Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac. Born under the sign of Leo, the singer Demi Lovato has a lion’s face tattooed on her right hand. With so many associations for people, it’s no wonder the King of the Jungle is a popular tattoo design choice for so many. Hyper-realistic tattoo styles work well with animal designs. A male lion with a full mane in a large design can be breathtaking. Some people have a crown tattooed on to the head of the lion, including Justin Bieber.
Another singer to go with a lion tattoo is Ed Sheeran. His is another maned lion. It’s very colorful and the placement is in the middle of his chest. Back in 2015, he talked to Ellen de Generes on her show about its significance to him. Ed said he had the ink done to commemorate selling out Wembley Stadium in London for three nights in a row. He added ‘I played the biggest venue you can play in England and sold out for three nights. England’s national emblem is a lion.’
With their striking markings and coloring, tigers are a popular animal tattoo motif that symbolizes strength. The tiger symbolizes strength, courage and longevity in Japan. The Japanese culture considers these big cats to be a talisman, warding off bad luck. A tiger tattoo is particularly suited to the Japanese style of tattoo design, with the use of strong color and black. The Japanese tiger tattoo makes for a stunning large tattoo, featured on the back, shoulder or as part of a sleeve design. Tiger tattoos also work well in the hyper-realistic style and this is a popular choice for both men and women alike.
Angelina Jolie had a large Bengal tiger design inked on her lower back in Thailand in 2008. The actress clearly likes symbols that give the wearer strength, as she also once had an oriental-style dragon on her left upper arm. She has now had it removed, but at one point, she had three dragon tattoos in total.
Justin Bieber’s bear tattoo is the head of snarling grizzly or brown bear. These American bears are a symbol long associated with Native American culture and traditions. The bear was considered by indigenous tribes to be a noble warrior, possessed of great strength, power and bravery. There are other bear tattoo designs available, think teddy bear, but if strength is the meaning you seek then it’s got to be a grizzly.
Wolves, like bears, are common in Native American culture but are also a familiar totem in Europe and Asia. In Norse culture, witches and giantesses were portrayed with wolves as their steeds. Siberian folk tales have wolves represented as heroes, protecting children from harm. Similarly, in Japan, mythical stories feature wolves that protect humans. Maybe this was the inspiration for the dire wolves that protect the Stark family in the show Game of Thrones.
One belief about wolves is that if you tell a wolf a secret, it will relieve the teller of the heavy burden of keeping the secret. The wolf could be trusted to keep the secret for eternity. Like lion tattoos, wolf tattoo designs also complement the hyper-real tattoo style.
Dire wolves which originated in North America are now sadly extinct, but they live on in people’s minds through the heroics of the Stark children’s dire wolves such as Gray Wind and Ghost. In fact, the actress Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark in the series had a very stylized dire wolf emblem of House of Stark tattooed on the back of her left forearm over the words ‘The pack survives’. It’s fair to say that wolves represent the particular strength associated with survival.
If the lion is the King of the Jungle, a stage is the King of the Forest. A full-antlered stag is a potent symbol of strength and is a popular choice for a tattoo design. Linked to Pagan cultures in Europe and Scandinavia, it was believed that the changing seasons were attributable to the Horned Celtic God of the forest called Cernunnos and the Mother Goddess.
Stag and antler motifs are also part of Native American traditions and feature in the oral culture of myths and legends. Stag tattoos can be realistic or more tribal in design. A proud stag depicted on a mountainside or in the midst of a forest may resonate strongly with people who have Scottish ancestry.
For people who like the idea of horned animal designs, but feel that a stag is not quite right for them, it might also be worth considering a bull tattoo. Just as the lion represents the zodiac sign of Leo, the bull represents the sign of Taurus. A bull is the epitome of strength and power and comes in a range of designs from tribal motifs to the whole animal with bulging muscles, the head only or a skull with horns.
Bull tattoos are most often seen done in predominantly black ink, although red is also popular. They are a very strong visual statement tattoo and should be approached with care!
Horses represent both strength and freedom. Who doesn’t want both of those qualities in their life? The year of the horse is also a Chinese zodiac sign, so might appeal to people born under that sign. The fortunes of humans and horses have been intertwined throughout history, with horses even featuring in paleolithic cave art dating back over twenty-five thousand years.
From a portrait design tribute to a much-loved domestic pet or sports horse to a wild mustang or warhorse, any horse tattoo is rich with meaning for the wearer. Singer Iggy Azalea has an unusual tattoo design of a magnificent horse blindfolded on her right forearm. A cover-up tattoo, the artist Sean Smith has used shading and created a lustrous flowing mane.
Azalea is now known for her love of horse riding and bought two horses called Defender and Strictly Business in 2015. Not long after becoming an owner, the star tweeted her appreciation for the inner strength that horses had given her. “Horses saved my life and now I have two and it’s all good. Now I have discovered another passion.”
With the massive success of the Game of Thrones series, dragon tattoos maintain their popularity with both men and women. To fully appreciate the magnificence of a dragon tattoo it is advisable to make this a larger design for the back or shoulder, where the beast can be seen in all its fire-breathing scaly glory! A dragon tattoo is also effective as part of a full sleeve design.
Dragons are prominent in Chinese and Japanese mythological culture. Whilst they symbolize strength, there are other meanings attributed to these dragons depending on the color of the ink and type of dragon. If a dragon tattoo is under consideration, do not overlook the intricate designs for the Celtic dragon, a somewhat darker beast associated with a warrior-like, masculine energy.
In Chinese tradition, the dragon and the phoenix represent the balance of yin and yang. This combined design makes for a powerful tattoo design which symbolizes different aspects of strength. There is the raw physical strength and firepower of the dragon combined with the strength to be reborn and rise from the ashes like the phoenix.
A phoenix on its own is also a popular tattoo design, but like a dragoon design, needs a larger surface area on the body. This makes the shoulder or back a suitable area for placement. As the phoenix is linked to flame, yellows, reds and oranges can make striking color combinations.
Actor Ben Affleck has a phoenix tattoo that covers his whole back. The ink has been the source of some controversy in recent years. In 2016 he said that the tattoo was a fake, placed there temporarily for a movie part. In 2018 the giant phoenix drew comment on social media when Affleck went shirtless at the beach and not all of it favorable.
Two of his famous ex-girlfriends commented. Actress Jennifer Garner compared herself to the ashes in an interview with Vanity Fair saying ‘I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.’
J-Lo was also reported as saying the tattoo was too ‘colorful’ for her taste. Despite the shade thrown Affleck’s way, his phoenix is an impressive tattoo that symbolizes the strength and endurance of a celebrity who has faced some life challenges along the way.
The griffin, also spelled gryphon, is a winged hybrid beast which combines the strength of a lion in its body and the power of an eagle for its head. Ancient Greeks thought that the griffin was a messenger from the gods. Indeed, a griffin pulled the chariot of the Greek god Apollo, the god of light. Apollo was also represented in art as riding on the back of one of these fantastical creatures.
Even today, griffins are to be found around us if we keep our eyes open. They can often be seen on coats of arms and in decorative stone carving on old buildings and monuments. A griffin makes a striking tattoo design, one that all born leaders should give serious consideration to having.
The centaur is an unusual beast, half man and half horse. The creature has the head and upper body of a human with the lower body and legs of a horse. The centaur is also the symbol of the zodiac sign Sagittarius where the centaur is portrayed as an archer holding a bow. As well as the warrior connections of a centaur with a bow, Sagittarius is a fire sign, ruled by Jupiter. In Roman mythology, Jupiter was considered to be both the King of the Gods, and the god of thunder. All strong references for a centaur tattoo.
Centaurs make for a more unusual tattoo design and the strength they embody is less obvious than say the lion or bear. A centaur channels the tension between the raw power and strength of a horse and the masculine strength of the human archer. The centaur symbolizes the struggle between universal forces such as light and dark, good and evil, strength and weakness.
Whilst a traditional centaur is half-man, some tattoos feature women as a centaur, with long hair mirroring the mane of the lower half of the equine body. The centaur makes a wonderful tattoo design choice for both male and female Sagittarians, a reminder that they are the wild signs of the zodiac.
There are so many options for tattoos that symbolize strength, half the fun will be doing the research and choosing the right design. Hopefully, some of the animal motifs above, both real and mythical, will provide some inspiration.