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Butterfly tattoos are primarily female tattoos and they come in a great variety of shapes and sizes. Insects are not the most popular tattoo design, except for butterflies and dragonflies. Butterfly tattoos are the 4th most popular tattoo design, after tribal, star and cross tattoos and they are probably the most popular feminine design.
The butterfly tattoo is pretty and feminine without being overly flowery or sentimental. Butterflies have always been an inspiration for visual arts, such as the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt a couple of thousand years ago.
Butterfly tattoos are a good choice for a first tattoo because the design doesn't need to be big to be striking. A small butterfly tattoo (life sized or smaller) on an ankle or shoulder can be a pretty and graceful accent to your natural beauty.
Butterfly tattoos can have a lot of meanings, depending on the person or culture. Here's an overview:
- Often a butterfly tattoo is a symbol of rebirth and transformation: the "ugly" and slow caterpillar transforms inside its cocoon to the beautiful creature that a butterfly is. Having a tattoo of a butterfly symbolizes a new life, a new beginning after having gone through some rough times.
- Delicate beauty: a butterfly is small and very delicate, but also very colourful and full of beautiful details. On the other hand, it is not so delicate like most people think: contrary to the widespread belief, you can't kill a butterfly by touching its wings.
- A butterfly tattoo can be a symbol of freedom.
- In some cultures, like the Christian, the butterfly symbolizes a person's soul. The Greek word for butterfly for example, also means soul.
- In Japan they believe that if a butterfly flies into your guestroom, the person you love the most will come to you soon.
- Also in Japan, a large swarm of butterflies is seen as a bad omen.
- The Russian word for butterfly resembles the word for grandmother.
- In China, two butterflies fluttering together are a symbol for love.
- In some cultures it means good luck when a butterfly lands on you. Imagine the luck you'll be having when you have one on you permanently.
- The phrase "having butterflies in your stomach" is a way of saying you are in love (or just very very nervous).
- For the ancient Aztecs, butterflies were the souls of deceased warriors or women who died while giving birth.
- For some people a butterfly means peace.
- And for some people the butterfly resembles a woman's genitals (Rorsach anyone?).
The Tribal Butterfly Tattoo
Butterfly tattoos combine well with tribal elements, especially on the lower back because of the symmetrical nature of a butterfly. Tribal butterfly tattoos are often black, or a combination of a coloured butterfly with black tribal swirls.
Another option is to stylize the butterfly itself, like these tattoo designs:
Lower Back Butterfly Tattoos
Lower back butterfly tattoos are usually larger, more stylized butterfly images that stretch across the lower back, one of the most popular places to get a tattoo nowadays (but also known as a tramp stamp).
Actually, butterfly tattoos lend themselves very well to this location. The butterfly image is very symmetrical, so the middle can easily be lined up with the spine, the wings extending on either side. This makes the butterfly wings longer and more stretched out than they would be in nature, but the image can be very attractive.
Celtic Butterfly Tattoos
Celtic butterfly tattoos depict the butterfly using much bolder lines for maximum impact. Butterfly tattoos done in this style incorporate the Celtic design in one of several ways – a Celtic border might surround the butterfly image, or the butterfly’s wings might be filled in with Celtic artwork.
The spirals and knot work that make up traditional Celtic art come across very well in tattoos and works very well in combination with a butterfly design.
Popular Spots and Design Combinations
The most popular spots for a butterfly tattoo are:
- Lower back
- Upper arm
Butterfly tattoos are often combined with other imaginary imagary like:
- Tribal ornaments
- Fairy designs
- Flower tattoos
- Tiger butterfly tattoo: the face of a tiger in the shape of a butterfly
Butterfly Celebrity Tattoos
Here's a list of celebrities that have a butterfly tattoo:
- Drew Barrymore: has one on her abdomen, right under her belly button.
- Maria Carey: has a lower back butterfly tattoo (fake or not?).
- Paris Hilton: has a small butterfly tattoo on her back (could be temporary).
- Kelis: has a butterfly on her stomach.
- Dolly Parton: country star with a flutterby on her chest.
- Julia Roberts: has a lower back butterfly.
- Britney Spears: has a butterfly tattoo on her left foot.
To sum it up: butterfly tattoos are among the most versatile tattoo images, which helps explain their popularity with women. They are inherently feminine, but not necessarily ‘girly’ and you can make either a bold or subtle statement with butterfly tattoo art. All of this means that we are likely to see even more butterfly tattoos in the years to come.
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