39 Raven Tattoos - Meanings, Photos, Designs for men and women


Ravens are one of the most popular characters in modern tattoos. The meaning of crow tattoo seems intuitive clear, but most often the symbolism of this bird is considered only from the point of view of European cultural stereotypes. Therefore, today we will tell you what the tattoo of a crow means, relying on the beliefs of different peoples of the world, the peculiarities of the behavior of birds in nature, we will consider the most appropriate styles and plots for such a tattoo.


Ancient Greece

The symbolism of the raven, which can be traced in the Greek myths, is very multifaceted and ambiguous. There are references to him as oracular bird, a messenger and servant of the gods, he was associated with longevity, solar energy, was considered a guide to the afterlife by some tradition. According to legend, the bird was originally white, but the god Apollo made her plumage black as punishment for the fault. There are a lot of versions for exactly which sins the crows paid: one says that the bird was too talkative, the other that she did not save the beloved god, did not fulfill his assignment on time. Some sources also argue that the raven was perceived as a harbinger of trouble.


Many African tribes living in the territory that is part of the range of the penguin crow considered this bird an assistant warning of danger. The crow was a symbol of malice and destruction in ancient Egypt, but at the same time a pair of birds personified a happy marriage, harmony and mutual understanding in the family.

North America

The raven often acts as a cultural hero and demiurge in the myths of Native Americans. It is associated with creation, the sun, and the Navajo even enters the pantheon of the gods. The Canadian Eskimos consider this bird to be the father of their people, the creator god. Judging by some sources, the raven was sometimes endowed with the symbolism of a thunder bird — its croaking was associated with thunder, and the glint in the eyes with lightning.


Eastern Europe

Slavs associated the image of the crow with death, evil, theft and witchcraft. It was believed that if the bird sits on the roof of the house, then the witch lives in it, and if you eat a bird’s heart, then you will become a thief. The crows are described as pernicious or lazy, slow-moving birds in legends and fairy tales.


The honorable place is occupied by the goddess of war Morrigan in Irish mythology, who has the ability to turn into a crow. Mentions of the divine warrior are found in many legends, among which is one of the most famous Irish legends — the legend of Cuchulainn. The Morrigan usually does not take part in the battles, but uses her power to help one side or another.


The relationship of the crow to the war is traced in the Scandinavian tradition. There were always a lot of crows on the battlefields, because this bird is almost omnivorous, carrion is an essential part of its diet. Crows often followed groups of people or animals, expecting that it would be possible to eat the flesh of those who could not stand the long way.

Vikings went on a raid on the Drakkars under the banner with the image of a black bird — the banner of a raven. This sign was as comprehensible and intimidating as the pirate Jolly Roger at that time.

The two crows served to Odin the God — Hugin and Munin, whose names in translation mean «thought» and «memory.» They flew all Midgard and told Odin about everything that they saw and heard. Therefore, the raven was also associated with wisdom and omniscience.


The crows have mostly negative symbolism in the Christian tradition. When Noah, who escaped from the flood in the ark, released the bird in the hope that she would find the land, the crow never returned to him, even though she found the earth. Therefore, the bird was perceived as a symbol of anxiety and wandering. The raven became the personification of all the evil of the world because of the addiction to carrion: death, disease, war, decay, debauchery and even the devil.

However, there is a tradition that characterizes the bird from the positive side. When the prophet Elijah was in the wilderness, the raven brought him food, because of which his image acquired another meaning — solitude, asceticism.


The meaning of the crow tattoo does not differ by gender, everything depends only on what you put in it, and other symbols present in the composition:

  • Death, rebirth of the soul, afterlife The raven as the conductor in another world specifies on trust throughout existence beyond the visible world, death romanticizing. This meaning is strengthened if there are other symbols of death in the composition of the tattoo: a raven with a skull, a tombstone, a Celtic cross.
  • Wisdom. The omniscient crows of Odin the God became a symbol of knowledge and wisdom, a broad view. A tattoo in the form of a raven will reflect the aspirations and outlook of a person who pays much attention to self-development, knowledge of the new, will approach both the self-confident intellectual and the curious dreamer who is constantly in creative search. You can add to the composition an image of parchment with a pen and inkwell, a stack of books and scrolls, candles in ornate candlesticks or antique lamps to emphasize this meaning. By the way, crows are very smart birds, which have been proved it many times by experience.
  • Assault. Raven can also point to a person living apart, consciously minimizing their contact with the outside world, or just a self-sufficient introvert.
  • Sorcery. These birds were considered an attribute of witches since ancient times. Originally a witch was called a wise woman who possessed inaccessible other secret knowledge, can help a person in his misfortune or punish the enemy. Therefore, the raven as the embodiment of wisdom everywhere followed her. The witches began to be considered as minions of the devil, the embodiment of vice, evil forces, black magic, corrupting the soul and carrying only harm with the advent of Christianity. So the raven began to allocate with so unattractive symbolism and came by the way as an immutable companion of the witch. The image of the bird in the context of this meaning will be in harmony with the runic formulas, the pentagram, the Scandinavian Valknut or the Celtic sign of the trinity.
  • Militancy. The crow in the composition with armor, combat banners, shields, swords and other weapons can become the embodiment of the militant Morrigan. Such a tattoo is perfect for a man whose life is a personal crusade, a constant struggle for his place under the sun.


Elegant realistic tattoos of crows on hand with an abundance of deep black color, depicting a bird against the background of trees with flying leaves or sitting on a stone tombstone, look great. This style allows you to accurately convey all the anatomical features, the game of shadows in the branches and the glare of moonlight, playing on feathers, even the look turns expressive and alive.

The realistic images with a plot that carries the viewer to the arid prairies or thick and mysterious forests of North America, for example, a large-scale tattoo on the leg, in which the image of the bird adjoins the dream catcher, tomahawk or proud profile of the chief of the Indian tribe in the traditional headdress Of eagle feathers look very interesting. The crows on the chest or on the shoulder blade are looking great, because there is enough space for the wingspan.

Trash polka is a style that is great for portraying this sinister but wise bird. Careless sharp red and black strokes will add a certain amount of expression and fatalism. The spirit of nonconformism, rebellion, and often even aggression blows from the tattoos in this style. The most successful and harmonious combinations in trash polka are crows and watches (ancient sand or mechanical), skulls, weapons. The works inspired by the film “The Crow” would be interesting in this style. For example, the composition with the bird in the foreground and the silhouette of the protagonist of the broken round window in the back will look very cool.

The choice of a suitable place on the body largely depends on the size and shape of the picture. Large-scale crow tattoos on the shoulder, forearm, drumstick or hip look harmonious if the sketch is oblong in shape, and miniature images of the silhouette of the bird look good on the neck, wrist, ankles, and hand.

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