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10 Nautical Tattoos And Their Meanings

Tattoos and ships. Which designs are associated with seafarers and what do they mean?

20th Century Fox

In the modern era, having visible ink or being heavily tattooed is becoming more mainstream. Celebrities, film stars and the ordinary person on the street are far more likely than ever before to be sporting some art on their skin.

The freedom that people now have to express themselves in this way is a good thing and as such, there will be no sneering or judging within this list.

Genres of music, lifestyle choices and even previous history were at one time portrayed prominently on the skin of only the people that indulged in these practices. Step back a few more decades and those with heavy coverage were displaying themselves at carnivals and freakshows as painted men and women.

Obviously, tattooing has a rich and storied history across the many forms it takes. You need only look at the Japanese and Polynesian traditions to see how much weight they carry both socially and historically. In the Western world, it used to be presumed that if you had tattoos, you were a criminal or a sailor.

So what are these traditional nautical themes that showed up on sailors bodies? And what did they mean? Let's find out.

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Contributor
Contributor

Matthew is a Marine Engineer to trade who currently works offshore. In his spare time, he writes sub-standard Scottish crime fiction that can be found here:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01MRT69RL Originally brought up in the Western Isles of Scotland, he lived in Edinburgh for 15 years but now stay in Dunbar with his partner, son and dog.