The bald eagle, sometimes called the American eagle, has been the emblem of the United States since June 20, 1782 when it was officially adopted as the National Emblem. It symbolizes freedom and was chosen for its long life, strength and majestic appearance. As such, the eagle represents freedom and strength in much of American artwork and tattoos.
Eagle Tattoo Designs
Eagle tattoos range in both size and design. They may be depicted in full color with the wings spread wide in fight, perched atop a tree or mountain top, or may feature only the head and beak of the bird. While some eagle tattoos are black and white, many contain other colors. As a symbol of American pride or American ideals, it may be accompanied by the US flag. Sometimes eagle tattoos feature only the talons of the eagle. While eagle tattoos for men are most common, there are plenty of variations fitting for women, too. Eagle tattoos may depict either the bald eagle or the golden eagle.
What Does the Eagle Tattoo Mean?
The traditional eagle tattoo is recognized as a symbol of the United States and often represents freedom, strength and power, but there are other meanings associated with an eagle tattoo. The most common meanings for eagle tattoos are:
- Virility or Masculinity
- Clarity and Focus
Symbolism of the Eagle Tattoo and Tattoo Variations
The presentation of the eagle and any accompanying graphics or words can affect the meaning and symbolism associated with the tattoo. Here are some common eagle tattoo variations and their basic meaning.
- Flying Eagle Tattoo: An eagle in flight with its wing’s spread wide as it soars through the sky symbolizes freedom or spiritual growth. It may also symbolize wisdom, opportunity or strength.
- Eagle Head Tattoo: The eagle head tattoo ranges in size and design. It can be a simple black and white image or it may contain intricate details with several colors. The eagle head tattoo symbolizes focus and vision.
- Perched Eagle Tattoo: Whether the eagle is perched on a branch or a rocky mountaintop, this tattoo design symbolizes health and energy and may also symbolize protection.
- Tribal Eagle Tattoo: Tribal eagle tattoos are rooted in Native American and Aztec tradition and beliefs. While each tribe may have slightly different depictions of the eagle, all show the eagle in a commanding position to symbolize strength, power and spiritual wisdom. Likewise the Maori civilization used tattoos are part of their tribal or cultural ceremonies. While each tattoo carries meaning, the combination of symbols are used to tell the wearer’s life story.
- German Eagle Tattoo: This eagle tattoo resembles a coat of arms and was used atop a Swastika as the formal symbol of the Nazi party. If you are considering a German Eagle tattoo as a symbol of your German heritage, be aware that many may misinterpret your intentions and view it as a Nazi symbol.
- Fierce Eagle Tattoo: Sometime the eagle is depicted with it beak wide open and its talons extended for battle. This variation of the eagle tattoo stands for power, courage and strength and may also represent determination.
- Eagle and Snake Tattoo: An eagle with a snake in its talons represents conflict. It may signify a battle between wisdom and vengeance or other opposing forces.
- Patriotic Eagle Tattoo: Eagles are common in patriotic tattoos and may include an American flag or it may contain a globe and anchor as a symbol of the US Marine Corp. Sometimes the colors of the flag are used in the intricate details of the eagle. For Americans, the eagle represents pride in their country or may be worn in honor of those who lost their lives in service to the country.
- Eagle Feather Tattoos: In the Native American culture an eagle feather is symbol of healing, a bond with nature and spirituality. An eagle tattoo may be worn to show your Native heritage or to illustrate your connection to nature.
Best Eagle Tattoo Placement
Eagle tattoo are typically displayed on the shoulder or as a chest or back tattoo, but are suitable for nearly any location, depending on the size and design of the tattoo. A small eagle feather can be worn on the hand, wrist, foot or ankle, while a large eagle in flight requires more space and is better suited for the upper body. Patriotic eagle tattoos are typically displayed on the upper arm near the shoulder.
The Message the Eagle Tattoo Conveys
The message the Eagle Tattoo conveys is typically one of pride either for your Native American heritage or for your country, but it may also symbolize your love for nature and your desire for spiritual growth. These tattoos are generally viewed favorably by the general public and as long as they are tasteful and discrete, they do not need to be covered in most work environments.
If You Wear an Eagle Tattoo You Are Likely to Be…
If you wear an Eagle tattoo you are likely to be deeply spiritual, of Native American descent or a veteran of some branch of the armed services. The meaning you attribute to an eagle tattoo may be deeply personal.
Reasons to Choose and Eagle Tattoo
You may choose an eagle tattoo in support of American troops, to honor a family member or friend who has sacrificed for our country or to make a statement that you are proud of your American heritage. As a patriotic symbol it often incudes some red, white and blue. On the other hand, if you are seeking spiritual growth and wisdom in life you may want to choose an eagle feather or an eagle in flight to remind you of your goals.