An anchor is an essential part of any boats and large vessels. It is used to keep the vessel from floating away and anchors it to the ground. That is pretty much why sailors mainly have these anchor tattoos. Nonetheless, they have gained popularity over the years. The symbol has become more than just an anchoring equipment and instead, became and awe-inspiring symbol.
Anchor tattoos have great aesthetic value. It may have been one of the reasons why it garnered the attention of many non-sailors. Soon enough, various meanings arose basing it with the anchors’ characteristics and purpose.
The Anchor’s Brief History
The anchor is believed to have been around since 2000 – 2500 BC. This has been during the Sumerian’s time. Then, during the early days of Christianity, the first image of the anchor has been used to persecute Christians for their beliefs.
Many wore an anchor tattoo to circumvent persecution. This helped them stay connected to their religion due to the anchor’s ability to hide the cross. Apart from that, the symbol is also said to be closely linked to Jesus seeing as most of his disciples had been fishermen. He had also performed various miraculous acts on water.
Followers of St. Clement of Rome also use the anchor to symbolize their patron saint. He was tied to an anchor and was then thrown to the sea.
The anchor may have been among the oldest symbols due to its affinity with the cross. But various meanings have also been linked to the imagery. Some scholars believe that the crescent also symbolizes the union of men and feminine powers. The crescent or the lower part is said to represent females while the rod is closely linked to the male phallus.
It has also been related to ancient Egypt. Many might have seen its resemblance to the Ankh, one of Egypt’s most powerful signs. The Ankh is Egypt’s symbol of life.
It wasn’t until around 1500s when the British Navy used the symbol for sailors and servicemen. This was after their victorious ordeal with the Spanish fleet. Since then, anchor tattoos have been used to identify sailors and their descendants. This became especially popular in 1900s.
Anchor Tattoos and What They Mean
The anchor is known as a sailor’s last refuge and symbol of hope especially in rough seas. It helps them be grounded and avoid getting crushed by giant waves. Anchor tattoos have not only acquired its characteristics, these also embody the noble sailors and servicemen.
Here are the variety of meanings for an anchor tattoo:
- Dedication for the greater good
Generally speaking, anchor tattoos represents its wearer’s ability to withstand life. They stay put no matter what situation they are in. They are not afraid to get lost in the sea of troubles and instead, anchor their faith. It is also said that someone wearing an anchor tattoo is known for their positivity and courage. They face even the most adverse situations with determination and strength.
Some choose anchor tattoos to express their gratitude to the people who served as their anchor in life.
Variation of Anchor Tattoos
Anchor tattoos have various designs, depending on their wearer. However, some designs have an associated meaning. Here are some of the designs and what they mean:
Navy Anchor Tattoos – These are tattoos popular among servicemen and servicewomen as well as their loved ones. Those who get this usually have lost someone in line of naval duty. The design either has the U.S.N. initials or the colors of the flag.
Anchor Tattoos with Roses – This is a tattoo design that combines two famous symbols and subjects in the tattoo industry. This imagery represents love, honor, loyalty and ultimate sacrifice. According to legends, roses instantly grew at the spot were Jesus died. Therefore, it has been deemed as the symbol of the Ultimate Sacrifice. The meaning also changes slightly depending on the rose’s colors. For pink, it means loyalty and love to an innocent person, like a child. Red roses tend to show passion and love and a dedication to someone who died in line of duty.
Anchor and Rope Tattoo – This design is also closely related to naval fleets. While some show ropes, others use chains. In truth, an anchor with a rope or chain is known as a “fouled anchor” and is actually a bad sign at ships. This can mean that the anchor is unstable. However, it became famous among sailors for some strange reasons.
Anchor and Heart Tattoo – This is a popular design for couples and those in a relationship. It represents love, compassion and strengthening of bonds. Basically, it symbolizes stability and security in your relationship. It’s also said to represent a strong connection with your other half.
Monochrome Anchor Tattoos – These are really common and among the simplest form of the tattoo.
Tribal Anchor Tattoos – Since sailors often explore different lands, a tribal anchor tattoo could signify those adventures. The design of the tattoo could be greatly influenced by the culture and the people of the lands they visit.
Matching Anchor Tattoos – Another popular design for couples. The matching tattoos do not only represent that they are taken by their significant other. These also mean they dedicate themselves to their partners.
Celtic Anchor Tattoos – Celtic symbols are actually pretty famous in the tattoo industry. There is no surprise that anchor tattoos also got influence by the Celt and Irish culture. In a sense a Celtic anchor tattoo can be associated with loyalty. It can also symbolize a connection with Earth and the elements.
Popeye Anchor Tattoo – Popeye is a famous fictional character and probably the most popular sailor of all time. He was created in 1929 and was also used in the war effort during WWII. He helped bolster support for the men and women in the front line. In tattoos, this is a way for sailors to pay homage to servicemen.
Designing an Anchor Tattoo
You can design your own anchor tattoo and it is actually much better if you do so. You can easily get the design that you really want. It can be something that represents your personality or helps tell your story. As previously mentioned, your tattoo could also pay homage to people in your life or a family member who has passed away. With that, you can make your tattoo unique than other anchor tattoos by putting a name or initials of that person.
You can also add more elements in your tattoo. For example, you can add a fish, a dreamcatcher, skull, water, portrait of a woman, a sexy lady or many more. It depends on your preference and the part they play in your tattoo.
Choosing the style of your tattoo is also important. Realistic and 3D styles are very common and gaining more popularity these days. These styles often make the tattoo look real and popping out of your skin. These are great for people who like modern styles and tattoos.
For example a 3D or realistic design of an anchor with ropes can be achieved through the right shading. It takes great detail to make it look alive.
Others make it look like the anchor is sinking into the ocean. Of course, it uses bright blue and white ink to create the waves and water.
Surrealistic and abstract designs are also great for artistic and creative people. These designs are often out of the box and hold no clear thought. They usually combine various elements and turn it into one. The designs can be colorful or monochrome. However, more colorful tattoos often get a more surreal vibe.
The minimalist style is a perfect choice for first-timers and women. These are simple designs that usually don’t even need shading and colors. They are perfect for smaller tattoos that complements its simplicity. These designs also mainly use line art only or very minimal designs.
Popular Anchor Tattoo Placements
The placement is another question that tattoo enthusiast often asks. Whenever you get a tattoo, thinking of the right spot to place it will make a huge difference.
For men, the best place to put an anchor tattoo is on the arms for a quarter, half or full sleeve of tattoo. The anchor’s shape is perfect for a longer area rather than for wider spaces. That is why the arms is a perfect choice. It is also possible to add background design such as the water or a landscape. Adding elements are also easier to do with the space.
Apart from the arms, the legs are also perfect. Just like the arms, it’s more elongated but still has ample space for background and other designs.
However, expect that your tattoo will likely always be showcased. You can either wear long-sleeved clothes and pants to hide them. But if you’re not comfortable with those clothes yet you need to hide your tats, choose another placement.
That’s where the back or the chest comes in. Larger tattoos are perfect on these areas as there is ample space to work on. You can have the tattoo in portrait or in landscape and still, you’ll have enough space.
Women could also choose these placements. But nothing beats a feminine and delicate tattoo. If you want something to look exactly like that, the placement plays a vital role.
For women, the wrist, inner elbows, ankle, feet, neck, sternum and ribcage are perfect places to increase femininity and sensuality. These areas are more delicate, however so getting a tattoo here won’t be the most comfortable thing in the world. In fact, you would probably need a break or two throughout the whole process.
The Cost of an Anchor Tattoo
The cost is another thing many tattoo enthusiasts ask. However, the answer really varies. It depends on where you are and the shop where you’re getting it. The size of the tattoo and the design are also major factors.
If you want a small tattoo, you’d likely pay the minimum prize. It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as a circle or a line, you’d have to pay at least $50. More complicated but smaller designs would reach up to a hundred bucks. Medium-sized tattoos often range from $100 to $500 or even more. Bigger tattoos, especially complicated ones can reach up to $1000.
Some tattoo shops offer free quotes. This is the best way to find the best price that suits your budget.
When to Get a Tattoo
Although you can most likely get a tattoo anytime you need, there are still some rules you need to follow in order to get one.
First off, you need to be at the right age. That is to say, you should at least be 18 to get a tattoo. Other shops don’t allow underage people to get a tattoo. However, if they have their parents with them or an adult guardian, most of the time they are allowed to.
Secondly, you can get a tattoo if you are 100% sure of the design you want. Many tattoo parlors won’t allow you to get inked if you are unsure of the design. Getting a tattoo is a lifelong commitment so if you are not ready or you are thinking twice, don’t get one.
Third of all, you should be well-rested. Your body needs to be in top shape for it to heal your tattoo wound. The larger the tattoo, the bigger the wound and longer it will take for the body to heal. So, being healthy is a big part of the process.
Lastly, you need to have the money. Tattoo artists make a living off of creating these works of art. If you don’t have the sum yet, you can always save and come back later.
Here are when to NOT get a tattoo:
- If you are pregnant.
- When you are drunk or high.
- Getting a surgery or after a surgery
- You are sick.
- You do not have an ID.
- If you haven’t taken a bath before the procedure.