The eagle is a tattoo design that is steeped in symbolism. It has been the subject of tattoos for aeons and is one of the earliest designs known to humankind. Over time their symbolism may have evolved but the essential message of eagle tattoos has always centered on themes like pride, strength, loyalty and honor. This is why many people in dangerous careers like military, firefighting and emergency response and law enforcement often choose the eagle to symbolize who they are and what they do.
The Eagle Tattoo Throughout History
Before there were states (or even colonies) the eagle was a symbol that represented various things to the indigenous tribes, particularly the sun. In native american-themed eagle tattoos are often paid with images of sun rays, sunsets or the breaking dawn for this reason. Even in ancient cultures, various gods and goddesses were represented as eagles. In the Greek pantheon, for example, the eagle represents the embodiment of Zeus. Symbolism like this is in no small part responsible for the associations we make with eagles to this day.
A popular theme of modern eagle tattoos is patriotism. In the United States, the symbol of the American Eagle is a mainstay and can be found representing various themes of national pride. It is also a popular symbol of military tattoos, particularly those representing the Army and Air Force but are by no means limited to just those branches. Eagle tattoos often share a canvass with other patriotic themes like the American flag, agricultural images and depictions of national landmarks.
To many, the eagle represents freedom – the basic tenet upon which the United States was founded. People who consider themselves patriots often choose eagle tattoos to not only display their national pride but to have an ingrained symbol of the freedom they hold so dear. For some, choosing the eagle as a tattoo design is a little less patriotic and more personal, representing putting off the past and soaring into the future unabated by any personal or emotional shackles that might have held them down before.
Above all, and enveloping these themes, is the concept of hope. The personification of the eagle as one of hope transcends political, patriotic and spiritual lines. In short, it is an overtly personal yet universal symbol all things idyllic in the human experience and represents everything to which we aspire as people.