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Why choose a raven tattoo? Discover their hidden meanings and beauty

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Choosing a raven tattoo is about more than just its striking look; it's about embracing the deep symbolism associated with these mysterious birds. Ravens are often seen as symbols of intelligence, transformation, and mystery in various cultures.

By selecting a raven tattoo, you're not just choosing a design but also a meaningful expression of your personal philosophy and aesthetic taste.

Explore the hidden meanings and captivating beauty of raven tattoos, and discover why they might be the perfect choice for your next ink.

What is a raven?

A raven is a large, black bird known for its glossy plumage and distinctively deep, hoarse call. It belongs to the genus Corvus and is one of the largest members of the crow family, which also includes other species like crows and jackdaws.

Ravens are highly intelligent birds, capable of complex problem-solving and social behaviours. They are often found in wilder, undisturbed areas but can adapt to various environments, from coastal regions to mountainous terrains.

Ravens have been featured prominently in mythology, folklore, and art across many cultures, typically symbolising wisdom, mystery, or foreboding.

 

close up shot of a raven bird

 

What does a raven tattoo symbolise?

A raven tattoo often symbolises wisdom, protection, and prophecy, drawing from the bird's storied presence in various mythologies where it is seen as a guardian, messenger, or harbinger. In some cultures, ravens are associated with transformation and change, embodying the cycle of death and rebirth.

Due to their intelligent and mysterious nature, raven tattoos can also represent knowledge, introspection, and a connection to the mystical or the spiritual realm. The diverse meanings make raven tattoos a popular choice for those who wish to express deep, reflective personal beliefs or life experiences.

Raven tattoo colour schemes and their meanings

 

flying black raven

 

Raven tattoos are versatile and can be adapted to various colour schemes, each adding a unique layer of meaning to the design. Here's a breakdown of common colour schemes for raven tattoos and their associated meanings:

  1. Black and grey: The most traditional colour scheme for raven tattoos, black and grey emphasise the natural appearance of the raven. This palette can symbolise mystery, death, and mourning but also wisdom and knowledge. It is a classic choice that lends the tattoo a sad, elegant, and timeless look.
  2. All black: A bold all-black raven tattoo emphasises the raven's association with the mystical and the unknown. It can represent protection, magic, and the deeper, shadowy aspects of the psyche.
  3. Red accents: Introducing red into a raven tattoo can signify blood, life, and vitality. It can also represent passion, a fierce spirit, and courage. Red eyes on a raven might symbolise an insight into the future or hidden knowledge.
  4. Blue and purple: These colours can give the tattoo a more mystical, ethereal quality, linking it to the spiritual or celestial realms. Blue might indicate healing and tranquillity, while purple is often associated with royalty, spirituality, and the subconscious.
  5. White and grey: Adding white to a mostly black and grey raven tattoo can symbolise light, truth, and purity. It can also highlight the dual nature of everything, balancing the darkness of the black with the lightness of the white, embodying concepts of good and evil or life and death.
  6. Vibrant colours (Watercolour): A raven tattoo done in a watercolour style with vibrant, splashing colours can represent creativity, freedom, and rebellion against traditional norms. This style can make the tattoo appear more artistic and less ominous, focusing on beauty and uniqueness.

Raven tattoo design variations and styles

 

raven bird in the dry tree

 

Traditional vs. contemporary

Raven tattoos can vary significantly in style from traditional to contemporary designs. Traditional raven tattoos often stick to classic motifs and use primarily black ink, focusing on the raven's symbolic meanings tied to mythology and folklore with styles like American Traditional or tribal.

On the other hand, contemporary raven tattoos embrace a broader palette of colours and modern techniques such as realism, watercolour, and geometric designs. These modern styles often incorporate additional elements like natural scenery or other symbolic imagery, offering a more personalised and artistic expression.

This diversity allows individuals to choose designs that resonate with their aesthetic preferences and personal meanings.

Popular styles

The versatility of raven tattoos is evident in the popular styles chosen by tattoo enthusiasts:

  • Traditional raven tattoos: Traditional raven tattoos often feature bold black lines and limited colour palettes, focusing on the silhouette or detailed features of the raven. These tattoos may include classic elements like banners, roses, or nautical themes, embodying a timeless aesthetic.
  • Realistic raven tattoos: Realistic raven tattoos aim to capture the lifelike appearance of the bird. Artists focus on fine details, such as the texture of the feathers and the glint in the raven's eye, often using black and grey shading to achieve depth and realism.
  • Tribal raven tattoos: Tribal raven tattoos use black ink and consist of flowing lines and geometric patterns that form the shape of a raven. This style is inspired by various indigenous art forms and emphasises the spiritual or mythical significance of the raven.
  • Watercolour raven tattoos: Watercolour raven tattoos are known for their vibrant colours and splash-like effects, which appear as if painted with watercolours. This style often uses a black base outline with a burst of colours to convey motion and emotion.
  • Geometric raven tattoos: Geometric raven tattoos combine the bird with geometric shapes like triangles, circles, and lines to create a modern and abstract design. This style often involves symmetry and precision, offering a more contemporary interpretation of the raven's form.
  • Neo-traditional raven tattoos: Neo-traditional raven tattoos build on the foundations of traditional tattooing but incorporate more colours, detailed shading, and a broader range of motifs. This style might blend realistic elements with decorative floral or ornamental details.
  • Silhouette raven tattoos: Silhouette raven tattoos feature the bird in a simplified, all-black form, often captured in flight or perched. These designs focus on the basic outline of the raven, making them sleek and minimalistic yet powerful.
  • Nordic raven tattoos: Drawing from Norse mythology, where ravens hold significant meaning, these tattoos often feature elements associated with Viking lore, such as runes, warrior symbols, or Norse gods. They resonate deeply with those of Scandinavian heritage or with an interest in Viking history.
  • Viking raven tattoos: Similar to Nordic tattoos, Viking raven tattoos are inspired by ancient Viking art and symbols. They often depict ravens in association with Viking ships, axes, or helmets, symbolising wisdom, power, and guidance.

Choosing the right placement for a raven tattoo

Choosing the right placement for a raven tattoo is important as it can affect the overall impact of the design and its visibility. Here are some considerations and popular placement options for a raven tattoo:

Arm (Upper and Forearm):

  • Upper Arm: Offers ample space for larger, detailed designs. This area is also relatively less painful for tattooing and can be easily covered if needed.
  • Forearm: Ideal for showcasing the tattoo. It's a visible spot that works well for both small and medium-sized tattoos, allowing for detailed work.

Back:

A large canvas that is perfect for expansive and intricate designs. The back allows for detailed raven tattoos that can include additional elements like landscapes or other symbols. It's also more private and can be covered easily.

Chest:

The chest is a prime location for meaningful tattoos, often chosen for designs that hold personal significance. A raven tattoo here can be styled to look as if the bird is perched or in flight across the chest, making a bold statement.

Leg (Thigh and Calf):

  • Thigh: Provides a wide, flat area suitable for larger designs. It's a less painful area and offers the flexibility of being shown off or covered up.
  • Calf: Great for vertical designs, such as a raven in flight. The calf can be easily displayed or hidden, depending on personal preference and the situation.

Neck and Shoulders:

These areas are often chosen for smaller raven tattoos. The shoulder, in particular, can be a discreet location for a smaller raven peeking over the clothing line.

Ribs:

While being one of the more painful tattoo locations, the ribs offer a large, flat surface that's ideal for a detailed and personal tattoo. A raven tattoo here is usually more private and can carry a deep personal meaning due to its proximity to the heart.

Why choose a raven tattoo?

Again, a raven tattoo is a powerful choice, rich in symbolism and beauty. It represents intelligence, transformation, and mystery, meaningfully expressing one's personal journey and beliefs. Whether drawn to its striking appearance or its deep cultural significance, choosing a raven tattoo can be a deeply satisfying way to showcase your individuality and connection to the mystical aspects of life.

 

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  • Mark Joshua Luz
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