Tattoo Flash – Swallow

According the law of the sea, once he had sailed 5,000 miles a sailor had a swallow tattooed on one side of his chest. After another 5,000 miles he would have another swallow tattooed on the other side of his chest.

In prisons, getting a swallow tattoo on the back of each hand was a reminder of freedom, since your hands could fit through the bars of your cell. Swallows tattooed on the hips are also associated with freedom.

The swallow is a symbol of Japan, where it represents good luck, a faithful marriage and fertility; it is also the symbolic bird of Estonia where it stands for the blue sky, freedom and eternal happiness.

In Egypt a legend tells that the goddess Isis turned into a swallow at night and flew around the sarcophagus of Osiris, plaintively crying until the sun returned. For the Bambara of Mali the swallow is a symbol of purity because it never sets foot on the earth, which has been considered stained (impure) since the beginning of time.

In Islam it is the symbol of renunciation and good company and is also called the “bird of paradise”. In Christianity it is the symbol of the resurrection of Christ because it returns every spring, like Easter, and marks the reawakening of nature.

We can find a similar meaning in Celtic mythology, where the swallow represents fertility and the alternating cycles of nature.

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