Association of pigeon as a bird of the peace has long been firmly rooted in our minds, the meaning of a pigeon tattoo, as it is easy to guess, is partly hidden in this interpretation of the image. However, in order to make a complete picture, still worth a look into the history and mythology.
The birds were considered the embodiment of the souls of the deceased and the messengers of the gods because of the ability to soar between heaven and ear in many cultures.
Such symbolism is inherent in the dove. This bird was also associated with kindness, gentleness, peace and kind-heartedness, although the behavior of a dove in nature actually has nothing common with these qualities. Images of these birds have a positive symbolism, and, what is noteworthy, the representations of different peoples about them largely coincide.
A dove was depicted sitting in the branches of the Tree of Life and holding a vessel filled with living water in Ancient Egypt. It was also considered a symbol of purity. The priests used these birds as postmen already in those days.
The pigeons were an attribute of Aphrodite and were kept at its temples in Greece. It was believed that these birds are very loving, but at the same time they remain faithful to their partner and become caring parents. Cooing of pigeons was associated with love languor. According to the legend, one day a dove came to Dodona, who spoke in a human voice. In connection with this significant event in the city, a sanctuary was founded, in which priestesses-prophetesses served.
In addition, the Greeks believed that because of the absence of the gall bladder, which was considered the cause of all the bad character traits of person and any other living being, the dove is an exceptionally kind and peaceful creature. Since the bird consumes some types of medicinal plants, ancient healers used to treat illnesses its blood, insides and even the brood.
The pigeon symbolized longevity, a happy marriage, a strong family and the respect of children for their parents in Japan, as well as in China. Also this bird was considered one of the attributes of the god of war, and the dove with the sword was a sign of the end of the war in the Land of the Rising Sun.
The law of Moses says that the dove is a pure being. The Jews sacrificed him when a child was born in the family. This image is ubiquitous in Christian iconography because Christians saw in the dove the incarnation of the Holy Spirit. In the stories that tell about the death of martyrs and saints, their souls are also depicted in the form of pigeons, soaring to heaven.
The dove flew to Noah’s Ark with an olive branch in its beak according to legend, thus proclaiming the establishment of peace between God and man. Also this bird symbolizes spiritual liberation through sincere faith.
The dove found a place in Islam. The bird appeared on the shoulder of the Prophet Muhammad, showing the indulgence of divine inspiration.
The expression «dove of peace» became quite common after the end of World War II due to the emblem of World Congress of Peace Supporters in 1949. It was the drawing of Pablo Picasso, on which a white dove was depicted with an olive branch in its beak. The artist turned to a rather ancient story, giving him a second wind.
The meaning of pigeon tattoo does not differ depending on sex, besides, such tattoos are equally common among both women and men, and their symbolism is exceptionally positive. So, what is the designation of a dove tattoo:
Most often you can find realistic tattoos with pigeons. This is not surprising, because the style, though incredibly complex in performance, allows you to depict the bird in all details, making it «alive.» The most popular pictures are monochrome works with white pigeons, colored tattoos are usually supplemented with bright roses, ribbons and other decorative elements. There are tattoos with a religious plot or even reproductions of famous paintings often. Such large-scale images often occupy the entire back. Small pigeons on the wrist, hand, neck or ankle also look pretty harmonious, if the sketch is laconic and not overloaded with small details.
Monochrome works in the style of artwork, consisting of thousands of smallest points, are interesting and unusual. This pattern will look good, even if you already have (or will have) tattoos in other styles. The problem of a dot work tattoo is only that such tattoo is difficult to correct.
Watercolor pigeons look very gentle, but at the same time bright. This style allows you to move away from traditional canons and paint the bird in colors, leaving occasional streaks and splashes. Another interesting option — an image of an origami pigeon in the line work style with watercolor elements.
As for choosing a place on the body, it’s worth to start from the size and shape of the future tattoo. For example, vertically elongated sketch of a tattoo with a pigeon on the leg or on the hand will look quite harmoniously, the chest or upper back will fit well for the horizontal works, and the best places for round tattoos are the shoulder blade, shoulder, hip.
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