Heart tattoos have always been popular, and we usually associate them with the old school, Sailor Jerry type of tattooing. The heart symbol can have a lot of meanings, the most obvious one being Love...
Here’s the typical scenario:
A couple, wanting to express undying love for one another, get matching heart tattoos with each other’s names written on a sort of banner. Flames or roses may be used to further embellish the design.
A few years later, when the couple go their separate ways, each is left with an indelible reminder – and a dilemma regarding what to do with it...
So, before you do anything stupid: love heart tattoos can be the cause of embarrassment and regret ;-)
The combination of heart tattoos and names started in the beginning of the 20th century when sailors wore red hearts with the word Mom in the center. Later, during World War II, soldiers wore them with the name of their girlfriend or wife. In both cases they acted as a kind of lucky charm.
The Meaning of Heart Tattoos
Besides love, the heart as a symbol has other meanings as well:
- The soul: people used to believe that the heart is the location of the human soul.
- In many religions, the heart has a mystical importance. Christians believe it is the seat of emotions (more particularly love) and Islam sees the heart as the spiritual centre.
- In Ancient Egypt myths, the heart was weighed against the feather of Ma'at (the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth).
Where the actual shape of the heart symbol comes from is another matter. It doesn't really look like the real thing, more like a cow's heart (historically, people saw a lot more cow hearts than human hearts). The shape as we know it probably comes from the shape of the female buttocks or breasts. It could also be a stylized depiction of two people kissing.
Here are some classic examples:
Tribal Heart Tattoos
A tribal heart tattoo done in simple black lines can be timeless and classy. There are many varieties, here are some examples:
Heart + Rose and Other Flowers
Hearts and flowers are an obvious combination, both being a symbol of love (especially the rose). Sometimes the heart has the shape of a rose or it can be that it is surrounded by roses.
Sacred Heart Tattoos
A sacred heart tattoo is usually depicted as a flaming heart surrounded by thorns. This Christian symbol stands for the heart of Jesus Christ and the divine love for humanity. They express the wearer's devotion to Jesus Christ.
Winged Heart TattoosA combination with (angel) wings may have several meanings: perhaps love has ‘flown away’, or a loved one has died. On the other hand, it could also mean that one is a "free spirit".
If you like wings, you'll also be interested in our Angel Wing Tattoos...
The Heart Locket TattooThe heart and lock stand for eternal love. Sometimes partners have a matching tattoo: one has the lock, the other one the key.
Realistic Heart Designs
Some tattoos display a realistic human heart, an anatomical version, complete with veins.
Other classic designs:
- The pierced heart: stands for romantic love. Cupid (a cherub) shoots people to make them fall in love.
- The broken heart: usually signifies the loss of someone or unreciprocated love.
- The bleeding heart: has the same meaning as broken heart tattoos.
Celebrities With Heart Tattoos
- Amy Winehouse: had an ace of hearts tattoo on her ring finger.
- Lindsay Lohan: has a small heart on her hand.
- Courtney Love: singer, has a fairy tattoo combined with 2 hearts.
- Jennifer Aniston: actress with a small heart tattoo on her shoulder (done for Friends?).
- Pete Doherty: has a heart with the letter K on the inside (for Kate Moss) on his left shoulder.
- Kate Moss: has a very small heart on her left hand.
- Lady Gaga: has a heart tattoo with the word DAD in it. This tattoo is dedicated to... her father who had open heart surgery.
- Goldie Hawn: actress with a small blue heart tattoo on her ankle, done in Tahiti for her 60th birthday.
- Nicky Hilton: has a heart with wings on her wrist.
- Jordan: model with 2 small hearts on her foot.
- Ricky Martin: singer with a rose heart tattoo.
- Kelly Osbourne: has a small heart on her abdomen, a pink heart on her pinky and a heart locket tattoo (with the word "Daddy") on her left under arm.
- Julia Roberts: has a heart on her shoulder.
- Tila Tequila: internet superstar with a winged heart on her right arm and another with the words 'Putla Vie" on her left arm.
- Ville Valo: has a heartagram (combination of a heart and a pentagram) on his neck and belly and a heart tattoo on his right wrist.
- Evan Rachel Wood: has a black heart tattoo on her left thigh.
If you liked the designs on this page, you'll also love our Butterfly Tattoo Designs...