Feathers, as an icon, can’t really be separated from their animal origins — birds. Each type of feather carries its own significance, due to the color patterning and the bird’s cultural meaning. There is what can be considered the generic feather tattoo, the simple silhouette or shape that implies that a bird of any kind dropped a feather along its travels. When taken at face value, the generic feather has come to represent spirituality and the sacred — birds fly, and their ability to fly has always been closely associated with the heavens. Plus, the other most famous winged icons in western culture (and also one of the other most famous tattoos) is the Angel.
Some folks go further: not ready to be satisfied by simply using a real feather, tattoo aficionados have gone further to have feather tattoos inscribed in their skin. General or specific, feather tattoos have a permanent place in our tattoo lexicon, due to their simplicity, ubiquity, and allure.