The swallow is a beautiful light symbol and it is not surprising that she is loved by fans of tattoo art. How this lovely bird deserves such love and popularity, we’ll tell you today, we’ll figure out what the significance of the swallow tattoo is, and plunge into the atmosphere of ancient myths and legends associated with this image.
If we consider the image of a swallow from the point of view of our ancestors’ representations, the meaning of the symbol remains positive in any culture. According to ancient beliefs, the swallow means the arrival of spring heat, the awakening of nature, liberation from the cold shackles of winter, transformation, growth and movement.
However, there are some signs associated with the swallow, which do not promise anything good (for example, if a bird flew into the window, someone from close relatives is threatened with death). The roots of such assumptions lie in the belief that the souls of the dead either turn into birds (including swallows), or birds accompany their world differently. However, this symbolism can not be considered negative, because the conductors between the visible and invisible world have always been revered, since they are entrusted with an especially important mission.
So, let’s talk a little about the myths that will bring us closer to understanding the symbolism of the swallow.
The swallow was one of the attributes of the goddess Isis according to Egyptian mythology. After the envious god Seth killed her husband Osiris, wishing to reign instead of him, Isis turned into a swallow and went to collect the remains of a dead spouse in order to miraculously conceive from him a son — Horus.
In Thebes the swallow was considered sacred. Also, the Egyptians believed that the swallow is one of those birds in which the souls of the dead are transformed.
Swallow was considered a herald of spring, and her image was closely associated with the cult of the Great Mother in Cretan art. In addition, this bird was considered an attribute of the goddess of love of Aphrodite, therefore for girls the meaning of the image of the swallow becomes even more valid.
There is a tragic story associated with this bird in Greek mythology, the plot of which is not inferior to modern thrillers. Athenian king Pandion could not win the fight against the barbarians who attacked his possessions. He decided to seek help from Tirey, king of Thrace. They were able to push the barbarians away from the borders of Athens only by joint efforts. In gratitude for the help Pandion gave one of his daughters for Tirey — Prokna.
Tirey took his wife away from home. Their life went on as usual, but the days of Prokna overshadowed her longing for her sister Philomele. Prokna could not stand and began to ask her husband to bring her sister to stay at least for a short time. The king still heeded his wife’s pleas and went on a long journey. Pandion, hearing the request of Tire, did not want to let go his second daughter, because there was a premonition of trouble in his heart. But Philomela wanted to see her sister so much that she begged her father to let her go. Pandion could not refuse the daughter.
As soon as Tirey saw the beautiful Philomela, he blazed with such passion to her that his mind became embarrassed. The Thracian king did not take Philomela to the castle despite his promise. He locked the beauty in a hut in the forest and said his wife that her sister had died, and secretly went to the prisoner. The unfortunate prisoner hated her captor so much that she cursed and promised to tell everyone about his crime. The distraught Tirey was so angry with his prisoner that he grabbed a knife and cut off her tongue so that he could no longer hear threats. However, Philomela still found a way to tell her sister the truth: she wove her story on a tapestry and somehow could send it to her sister.
Prokna found Philomela. Together they came up with a terrible revenge plan. Prokna killed her own son, because she knew that the husband loved him very much. But the sisters did not stop at this: they prepared dinner from a flesh of the child for his father. When Prokna filed a dish ащк her husband, he, unaware of what had happened, demanded to call his son. Then Philomela came into the room with the boy’s severed head in her hand and threw it directly into Tirey’s face. The king chased the sisters to pay for the murder of the child, but he could not catch up, because Prokna turned into a nightingale, and Philomela into a swallow.
Cozumel Island rises in the Caribbean Sea to the east of Yucatan. Maya believed that it was the place where the sun was born every day, and called it «island of swallows» in honor of the goddess with the legs of the swallow, Theel Kusam. The island was also patronized by the wife of the solar deity, Itzamna, the goddess of the rainbow. Ishchel is the defender of women, according to beliefs of the Maya, preserving pregnant women, facilitating childbirth therefore future mothers came in specially allotted days to the island to receive blessing of the goddess. Based on the beliefs of the Maya, a tattoo depicting a swallow on the neck or any other part of the body can become an amulet for a girl who dreams of becoming a mother and creating a strong family.
Slavs also associated the swallow with the arrival of spring. In addition, this bird symbolized the feminine, so the tattoo in the form of a swallow is especially suitable for women.
A lot of signs are associated with the bird. For example, if the swallows have made a nest under the roof, there will be happiness in this house, an unmarried girl is soon waiting for a meeting with a betrothed, but if the bird left the nest forever, the people living under this roof are waiting for misfortune and even death. The murder of the swallow was considered a serious crime, the perpetrator of such a crime awaits misfortune. The ruined nest of a bird awaits the death of livestock. The swallow protects the house from fire, therefore to the one who will destroy its nest, the fire threatens.
The organs of this bird have been used in witchcraft rituals since antiquity. It was believed that a man who had eaten the ashes of a swallow that hatched the chicks could win the heart of any woman. The blood and brood of the birds were rubbed into the scalp, believing that this would contribute to the rapid growth of beautiful and healthy hair. A red stone called khelidon, which can be found in the stomach of a swallow, is allegedly capable of curing epilepsy, and make you invisible if you carry it in the mouth.
If you look for sketches of swallows or ready-made works, you can see that the birds are depicted without any additional decorative elements in most cases. Usually these are small, neat works that look good on any part of the body. For example, girls often depict swallows behind the ear, on the collarbones, wrists or ankles.
Bird is more logical to depict in color, because its distinctive feature is a bright red breast. The realistic swallows, depicted sitting on a branch or in flight look great. Another interesting option is a pair of birds with chicks in the nest. Such work will say that the family is the most important thing in life for the owner. However, this plot suggests a large scale of the tattoo. A family of swallows on the chest or shoulder blade will look harmonious.
The swallows in watercolor look excellent. Smooth transitions of color, stains of paint, the trace left by the wings of the wings, allow you to convey the ease of flight. A small swallow tattoo on the neck or wrist will look bright and unusual as well as a large image of a bird, complemented by decorative elements.
Considering that the swallow is a symbol of spring, love and fertility, its image is perfectly combined with other symbols of tender feelings. It can be hearts, flowers, symbolizing love: red roses, tulips, chrysanthemums or forget-me-nots. A swallow fits well with a dove in a tattoo, which is also considered a bird that brings love. There is even a wedding sign, according to which, if a swallow and a pigeon come along to the house together, the young people will live a long and happy life in marriage.
It is better to order an individual sketch from the selected master, having previously discussed all the nuances regardless of which elements you choose for a tattoo. So you will be sure that all your wishes will be taken into account, and the work will be unique and unrepeatable.
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