Swallows are also said to be signs of resurrection, rebirth and homecoming. In tattooing, a swallow tattoo is the one of the standard go to old school tattoos and like many traditional tattoos, swallow tattoo has strong connotations with all things nautical!
It is said that sailors would get a swallow tattoo as a sign of their sailing experience, one swallow representing 5000 mile sailed and two 10,000. Such a pair of swallows would be found on the hands or chest, two places where swallow tattoos are still commonly found today. The representation of homecoming was also a key aspect in swallow tattoos being adopted by sailors. A sailor could get one swallow tattoo before beginning a long journey at sea and get the second upon their return home. Swallow tattoos have also found a place in more sinister circles! Within British prisons it has long been a common practice for an inmate to get two swallows tattooed on their hands as a sign of 'doing their bird and serving their time'!! Likewise 'Hard Men' in the cities of Glasgow and London have been known to get a swallow tattooed on the back of their hand to show their fighting ability, aka. these fists can fly!!
Admittedly the traditional connotations of swallow tattoos are not as prevalent as they once were and swallow tattoos today are more commonly chosen because of the traditional roots and reputation as a great tattoo! Here are fifteen swallow tattoos that show their timeless beauty!