Here we've brought together some of the top unalome tattoo inspiration to get you started in the hunt for your next tattoo and the perfect artist to match. Check it out, save some to your mood boards, and connect with amazing tattooers near you.
The Meaning of the Unalome Tattoo
You’ve probably seen a winding, single-lined symbol on someone’s body before and wondered what it meant? Well, wonder no more; it’s known as a Unalome, a Buddhist design that represents the life path toward enlightenment.
The spiral represents our struggle with life, while the straight line signifies harmony found through turbulence. Thus, Unalome tattoos are powerful symbols of spirituality, representing our journey through life. It’s a bit confounding to think that such a simple figure can stand for something so profound, but once you understand how to interpret Unalomes, the meaning of these sacred insignias becomes as clear as a Zen master’s mind.
Take a moment to admire some harmonious ink and enlightened people and get inspired by the unalome tattoo designs below!
Understanding the Unalome Symbol
To unravel the meaning behind the Unalome you must start at the beginning of the life path, represented by the spiral at every Unalome’s base. This swirl symbolizes our burgeoning consciousness, the human mind in its infancy. Then, as you follow the line along its bends, which showcase life’s ups and downs, you’ll see the lines that depict a person struggling to find direction, trapped in uncertainty or fear, but growing ever wiser and worldlier along the way.
The longer the line wanders, the less wayward the journey becomes, and the closer the mind is to finding clarity. Eventually, there is no more room for the line to overlap. It goes completely straight, symbolizing the point when a person achieves Nirvana — a release from the cycle of life and death.
Traditionally, Unalomes serve to represent the crown of the Arahants - or Arhat, the Enlightened Saints in the Buddhist culture. The spiral stands for the crown itself, not the wavering wander. The straight line of the Unalome symbolizes the direct path to Nirvana that the enlightened saints have achieved.
Other Meanings of the Unalome Symbol
Aside from their primary meaning, Unalomes embody a number of other spiritual properties. They can be symbolic of feminine or masculine energy, depending on which direction their spirals are facing; left for female and right for male. In some sects of Buddhism, they are believed to represent the third-eye of Shiva herself or records of the lives of various Arahants, or individuals who have aspired to Buddhahood over the ages.
Placement of Unalome Tattoos
Unalomes have been depicted for thousands of years in Buddhist art, with a famous example being the stone spires outside of the temple Wat Bang Phra, but the place they’re most commonly seen today is on people’s skin. Unalome tattoos are thought to have originated with Sak Yant, a form of sacred body art performed in Thailand. Artists do all sorts of innovative things with Unalomes, elaborating on their intricate form and embedding them into other spiritually charged designs.
The minimal yet ornate shape of Unalomes makes them ideal for placing on narrow stretches of the body. Unalome tattoos are commonly placed on the sternum which is the center of breath, or on highly visible parts of the body like the hands, fingers, throat, and face.
When deciding the placement of your unalome tattoo, make sure that the symbol is never pointing downward; enlightenment is about aspiring to a higher level of consciousness, so make sure to orient your unalome tattoo in the right direction, preferably near one of your chakras.
As with other powerful spiritual and religious symbols, you may or be accused of cultural appropriation if you are a non-Buddhist Westerner sporting a Unalome tattoo. If you are traveling in a country with a strong Buddhist culture, it is important to understand that some might consider your tattoo to be disrespectful, especially if it's placed on a body part that is deemed impure, such as the feet. That being said, it is important to understand the origin and the meaning of a cultural symbol such as the Unalome, especially when considering it as a tattoo.
FAQ About Unalome Tattoos
What is the meaning of a unalome tattoo?
The unalome tattoo meaning can be explained as a sacred symbol depicting the soul’s journey to enlightenment. Revered by both Buddhist and Hindu cultures, the unalome tattoo is packed with powerful meaning and rich history, but should only be worn by those who intimately understand its deeper intricacies and cultural importance.
Are unalome tattoos disrespectful?
Unalome tattoos can be considered deeply disrespectful if worn by a person who does not truly appreciate or understand the symbol's esoteric meaning. Without knowledge of the Theravada school of Buddhism or traditional Thai Sak Yant tattooing, the unalome symbol can be viewed as cultural appropriation and even racism.
In the Buddhist culture, Sak Yant is considered a sacred form of Thai spiritual tattooing, a practice that is believed to bring magical qualities, otherworldly protection, and sacred power into people’s lives. It is believed that when someone ignorantly uses a sacred symbol like the unalome, that the power of that symbol is lessened, making purely aesthetic unalome tattoos highly distressing and offensive. This is why it is imperative to understand the meaning of the unalome before tattooing it on your skin.
Is it okay to get a unalome tattoo?
Buddhist and Hindu cultures commonly find unalome tattoos offensive when they are worn by westerners who don’t understand the unalome symbols' esoteric meaning. On the contrary, it is considered acceptable to have a unalome tattoo if you possess a working knowledge of the Theravada school of Buddhism, or understand the layered spiritual meaning behind the design.
When deciding to get a unalome tattoo it is important to understand that certain placements can be considered highly offensive. The feet in particular are considered one of the worst placements for a unalome tattoo as this body part is viewed as lowly and unclean in the Buddhist religion.
It may also be important to note that there have been many instances of travelers being asked to leave largely countries with strong Buddhist and Hindu cultures for sporting tattoos deemed to be insensitive or ignorant, so before you decide on an unalome tattoo, make sure that you possess a genuine understanding of the symbol, along with a deep appreciation for the beliefs it represents.
What does a unalome lotus mean?
The unalome lotus meaning can be briefly described as representing piousness, evolution, and purity of spirit. In the Buddhist religion, the lotus flower holds great symbolic value, as it is believed to represent freedom from materialism, attachment, and physical desire. Although the lotus grows in muddy waters, the flower is seemingly unaffected by its surroundings, maintaining an immaculate purity throughout its petals. Much like the unalome symbol, the lotus works to represent the human journey to enlightenment.
When pairing a lotus flower with your unalome tattoo, remember that certain color flowers hold different meanings. A pink lotus flower, for example, represents devotion to the divine, while a white lotus indicates spiritual purity and peace.
Where do you put a unalome tattoo?
When contemplating unalome tattoo placement, it can help to consider the wisdom of Sak Yant; the traditional and spiritual practice of Thai tattooing. Within Sak Yant, it is believed that tattoos carry incredible power, interacting with the body, mind, and spirit. When choosing your unalome tattoo placement, remember to keep it above the waist, but also away from the heart, sternum, breast, or ribs. In Buddhism, it is believed that the area surrounding the heart is very sensitive energetically, and spiritually, and so it is advised to try not to place any symbols within this region. Popular unalome placements for men and women include the wrist, behind the ear, the arm, and the neck.
Is there a male and female unalome?
Yes, there are male and female unalomes! Whether a unalome is considered to embody masculine or feminine energy all depends on which direction the spiral faces, with left being for female energy, and right indicating male energy.
Is it disrespectful to get a Buddha tattoo?
Buddhist tattoos can be viewed as being disrespectful if worn by someone ignorant to the Buddha’s teachings, or when placed somewhere offensive on the body. In the Buddhist religion, it is customary to honor any art depicting the Buddha by hanging it at the highest point of the home. If you are considering a Buddha tattoo, make sure it’s a conscious undertaking and that it is placed high above the waistline.
Popular Unalome Tattoo Motifs
Unalome Lotus Tattoo
The unalome lotus tattoo is a powerful design symbolizing purity of spirit, spiritual evolution, and the path toward enlightenment. When designing your unalome flower tattoo, keep in mind that the colors you use will have great significance on the meaning of your tattoo. For example, a red lotus signifies love and compassion, while a blue lotus symbolizes the spirit's mastery over knowledge and wisdom.
Unalome Heart Tattoo
The unalome heart tattoo radiates with compassion, empathy, and self-love. Sometimes incorporating additional elements like the lotus flower, these powerful and esoteric designs can help to promote love vibrations and awakening.
Unalome Moon Tattoo
In the Buddhist religion, the moon is viewed as a symbol of enlightenment and truth, making the unalome moon tattoo a powerful tribute to the soul’s quest for nirvana. In Tibetan Buddhism, the moon holds great importance, with all calendars based on its cycles. There are even special names used to denote that a person was born on Monday, or “moonday”.
Unalome Stars Tattoo
If you’re looking to add a celestial flair to your special unalome design, a unalome star tattoo may be the right choice for you! Paying homage to the cosmos while celebrating the path to harmony this enlightening tattoo can be a powerful ode to Buddhism and inner peace.
Unalome Arrow Tattoo
The unalome arrow tattoo is a popular selection for many who wish to commemorate their faith and remain mindful of the principles of non-attachment. In the Buddhist religion, a teaching called “the two arrows” is used to show our relationship with pleasure and pain; stating that oftentimes when we encounter a painful situation, (like being hit by an arrow), we often cause ourselves further pain in the way we respond to the event, similar to shooting ourselves with a second arrow when we’ve already been hit.
Buddhism’s “two arrows” teaching serves to help cultivate a welcoming sense of curiosity to all outside life events, allowing one to experience both pleasure and pain without the added suffering caused by judgment and attachment.
Unalome Sun Tattoo
The unalome sun tattoo is an energizing and clarifying symbol representing the path to nirvana. In Tibetan Buddhism, the sun signifies brightness of the mind, the expulsion of darkness and ignorance, and the dissolution of all deceptions.
Unalome Om Tattoo
The unalome om tattoo is a deeply spiritual symbol packed with esoteric meaning. The om symbol is said to represent the sound that was made when the universe was created, and it is also believed to symbolize all that resides in the material and non-material worlds, as well as the illusions that may prevent us from realizing bliss.
Paired with the unalome symbol, which works to represent our earthly journeys to peace and enlightenment, the unalome om tattoo is a simple symbol with deep and layered meaning.
Unalome Tattoos for Women
If you’re interested in a female unalome tattoo, there are certain elements in your design that you’ll want to pay special attention to, for example, making sure that the unalome spiral faces to the left. The direction of your spiral will dictate whether your unalome symbol is masculine or feminine in nature.
If you’re interested in adding more feminine energy to your unalome design you can consider additional elements, creating a unalome moon or unalome lotus tattoo.
Unalome Tattoos for Men
If you’re searching for the perfect male unalome tattoo, you’re not alone! Many men have adopted this peaceful and ancient symbol as an ode to Tibetan Buddhism, and to serve as a reminder of the spirit's tumultuous journey toward peace.
When designing your unalome male tattoo, make sure that your spiral is facing right, as this is the traditional way to depict a male unalome design. Pairing your unalome tattoo with traditionally masculine symbols like the sun can be a creative way to infuse esoteric masculine energy into your special design.
Best Unalome Tattoo Placements
Unalome Finger Tattoo
Unalome finger tattoos are a wonderful placement for those who wish to see their design daily! Aiding as a potential meditation aid and spiritual uplifter, the unalome tattoo works great in this highly visible yet still delicate placement.
Unalome Sternum Tattoo
The unalome sternum tattoo is a popular selection, especially amongst women. Searching for a place close to the heart, many choose unalomes on the sternum as a way to proclaim their faith and dedication to spiritual growth.
While you can place your unalome tattoo anywhere you’d like, it is advised in the Buddhist tattooing practice of Sak Yant that you avoid the sternum and area by the heart, as the energetic qualities of this area are incredibly sensitive.
Unalome Wrist Tattoo
Unalome wrist tattoos are an ideal placement for anyone looking to celebrate Buddhist principles and the concept of nirvana. Unalome tattoos are recommended to only be placed above the waistline, making unalome wrist tattoos a visually appealing placement that won’t be viewed as disrespectful.
Unalome Arm Tattoo
If you’re considering a Buddhist sleeve, or you’re just interested in a stand-alone piece, a unalome arm tattoo might be the right selection for you! Sitting above the lower half of the body, the forearm and upper arm provide the perfect space to design your own unalome tattoo. So, whether you’re interested in adding complementary design elements, or you’d prefer a simple symbol, the arm offers prime real estate for unalome tattoos of all styles and sizes.
Unalome Face Tattoo
For those who want a highly visible placement for their unalome design, unalome face tattoos are where it’s at! With the face and head being the highest points of the body, this non-traditional placement actually adheres to traditional Buddhist beliefs, which state that holy symbols and imagery should always be placed above the waist, and as high as possible within the home.
Unalome Rib Tattoo
Unalome rib tattoos have risen in popularity over the years, remaining one of the top placements for this esoteric and powerful Buddhist design. While unalome rib tattoos are not considered offensive, in Thai Tattooing it is traditionally advised to avoid tattooing the ribs, breast, or sternum, as these areas are considered to be sensitive energetically.
We hope you enjoyed our collection of the best unalome tattoos, placements, and motifs. Feeling super inspired? Check out our array of top-notch tattoo artists, and book your next tattoo today!
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