With their graceful strides, intelligence, sense of community importance, and wisdom, elephants have long been admired by human cultures around the world.
As with many animals whose traits people admire, elephants have become a popular tattoo theme.
Let’s explore the meaning and symbolism behind elephant tattoos, as well as elephant tattoo ideas for different aesthetics.
The Meaning Behind Elephant Tattoos
In Africa, elephants often have to traverse miles of tough terrain to reach water sources. They have incredible strength and perseverance, and are praised for their intelligence and family bonds.
“Elephants are some of the most intelligent animals on Earth. Their brains weigh 11 lbs. (5 kg.), much more than the brain of any other land animal. They commonly show grief, humor, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, tool-use, playfulness, and excellent learning abilities,”Global Elephants
As they have complex emotions, they have been known to show empathy towards other species in the form of helping other animals out of tricky situations.
Elephants have also been seen showing immense grief in response to the passing of a member of their herd with their own death rituals. As such, an elephant can be the perfect option for a memorial tattoo.
An elephant tattoo often has the themes of strength, wisdom, and family woven in the design, and there are many different ways to express this.
Elephant Tattoos For Minimalists
If you’re a less is more type of person, you may want to opt for a minimalist elephant tattoo. Elephants are very well recognized with even the bare minimum of details.
When you go for a simplistic fine line tattoo, you can choose your mini elephant tattoo to be made of just one line. While this type of tattoo may look simple to do, it is not. LA and Austin-based tattoo artist Jason Schroeder, aka Mr. Incognito, tells Allure,
“The ‘single’ needle term is technically incorrect 99 percent of the time. It is a very unforgiving tool that can cause a lot of damage if not used correctly.”
So, the finer the lines, the easier it is to see mistakes and tell whether or not you went to a professional for your tattoo. Because of this, it’s important to go to a tattoo artist who is experienced in this style of tattooing. Do your research and look at portfolios before you commit to a tattooist.
Elephant Tattoos For Tiny Ink Lovers
Tiny tattoos don’t have to exclusively be minimalistic. If you are more of a maximalist with details but still want a tiny elephant tattoo, you can get those details done in minute form.
One detail you may want to include is the elephant’s trunk either pointing upwards or downwards.
“In Chinese culture, elephants are believed to be a symbol of good luck and happiness. In Feng Shui, elephants can also represent wisdom, protection, and fertility. If the elephant has their trunk up, it represents good luck, if the trunk is down it represents fertility,”Saved Tattoo
No matter what style of tattoo you get, aftercare is essential for the longevity of your ink. However this is especially important for fine line tattoos. Because this style of tattoo uses less ink, it can fade and blur quicker.
Prevent this by following your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions, keeping your ink out of the sun during the healing process, and then always protecting your tattoo from UVA and UVB rays with SPF.
Elephant Tattoos For The Spiritual
The majesty of elephants have inspired religions and cultures, from the ancient practice of Feng Shui to Buddhism.
“Not only does an elephant represent memory, empathy and compassion, there is a strong connection of the species to Buddhism, as it is said that the Buddha selected the rare white elephant for one of his incarnations. The white elephant symbolizes both wisdom and fertility, making it a beautiful choice for a maternal tattoo,”Byrdie
A white ink elephant tattoo can be a deeply meaningful tattoo, however it’s important to know that white ink does tend to fade faster than black.
For a Buddhism centered elephant tattoo, you could also incorporate a mandala in your design. A mandala is also a Buddhist symbol, and represents the universe.
Elephants are also represented in Hinduism through the god, Ganesh. Ganesh is the elephant-headed god in Hinduism who is known as “Lord of the People” and symbolizes wisdom and understanding.
Elephant Herd Tattoo For The Family Centered
Elephants live in herds and have complex social structures. They are family oriented animals that raise their young together and are led by a matriarch.
Due to the value they place on their family, a tattoo depicting elephants in a row can symbolize the love you have for your family and children.
“The elephants in a row show how a mother leads children through their lives by protecting them and giving them strength…This is a great tattoo for a proud mother who wants to express her sentiment for family life, or for a child of a mother who always leads them in the right direction,”Tatt Mag
Geometric Elephant Tattoo For Lovers Of Maths And Science
Do you love defined lines and angels, and are you a fan of how straight lines and geometric shapes can be pieced together to form an image?
When it comes to elephants, the image can be broken down into its defining characteristics and placed together without realistic details.
This geometric tattoo option is also popular with artists and lovers of color, as each geometric shape can be shaded in a different hue. This is a good option for those who want to have a watercolor elephant tattoo.
Whatever design you choose for your elephant tattoo, the design can represent strength, wisdom, power, and the love of family.
If these characteristics pull at your heart strings, dive into your personality and choose a design that makes sense for you. This is a great way to create a tattoo removed from trends, and one that you’ll love for years to come.