Since I was a child, I had fantasized about being a pretty little butterfly. I envied their ability to aimlessly fly and wander around instead of being a human and not fly. Didn’t we all?
The wish is only growing to be too tempting as I am getting older. Besides the quite apparent, uniquely intricate beauty each of them carries, butterflies are one of the most fascinating and enchanting members of the animal kingdom.
They have been seen as a symbol of gentle beauty for a long time. And now, butterfly tattoo designs got more popular than ever considering the symbolism it carries. With their ornate wings and bright colors, their popularity is no surprise.
Butterfly Tattoo Designs
Gone are the days of getting random tattoos without caring for their meaning. These days, people are more conscious of the tattoos they choose (as they should) to hold meaning with a tattoo rather than inking a random tattoo of no meaning merely for the sake of aesthetics. And what exactly does a butterfly symbolize itself?
If their perseverance wasn’t enough, their growth through a gruesome yet terrific transformation speaks for them all.
The Symbolism Of Growth & Transformation
How often do we think about these butterflies that grace our meadows with its dignified charm and reach the sky with patterned and colored wings? Except when we think of a tattoo design.
We are all quite aware of how a butterfly develops through the four stages of metamorphosis(1); namely egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The first stage is of course the eggs being laid on plants by the adult butterflies. Once the egg grows into a caterpillar, then comes the feeding stage named larva.
During the pupa stage, the caterpillar’s skin is shed in many stages to form a new body inside a protective cocoon known as a chrysalis, in which they stay inside for 5 to 21 days. From there, it digests itself (yes, no wonder how drastic the reformation is) by releasing enzymes and forming a substance. After this incredibly exquisite transformation, the butterfly has to force itself to squeeze out of the cocoon.
“I embrace emerging experience. I participate in discovery. I am a butterfly. I am not a butterfly collector. I want the experience of the butterfly.” -William Stafford
We can only imagine how painful this ritual each butterfly undergoes to force blood into the wings and provide them the power and strength for flight and growth. Beginning their life as something completely different, these fab flyers are the epitome of growth through pain. Now, who wouldn’t fancy getting a tattoo design of butterflies that stand for such expressive meaning?
There are so many incredible butterfly tattoo designs both women and men alike adorn their bodies with. For instance, the famous former One Direction singer Harry Styles has more than 50 intricate inks on his body with a relatively huge butterfly tattoo across his stomach. Apparently, he got this inked to symbolize his transformation of life through different stages — just like a butterfly, thus, there is no wonder he chose that particular one to represent transformation.
Butterfly Tattoos Meaning
From meticulously intricate to fancy hyperbolic designs, butterfly tattoos have become a popular choice since the 1990s. Even so, they are generally considered as cliche feminine tattoos without taking note of the symbolic meaning(2). In light of that matter, you must be aware of how different cultures around the world hold different symbolism for a butterfly and its tattoos.
It is curious enough that ancient people believe butterflies were, in fact, human souls in connection to how the Christian belief of a butterfly representing the human soul having escaped the confines of the flesh. A clear simile of the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Hence, throughout the ages, people have felt a spiritual connection with butterflies.
The Cultural Symbolism Of Butterflies
- The Chinese culture believes a butterfly stands for joy, happiness, and wealth. It is considered to be a sign of good luck.
- In Japan, it is about the number of butterflies. While one butterfly would represent young womanhood, two butterflies represent marital bliss. Geishas have also been associated with butterflies for years.
- Ancient Aztecs believe the two noblest deaths were the death of a woman during childbirth and a fallen warrior. They believe the butterflies represent the noblest death’s souls.
- In Greece, they believe that a new human soul is born each time a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis.
- Ireland culture thinks of butterflies as the souls of the dead waiting to pass through purgatory.
- In Celtic symbolism, the butterfly holds similar characteristics of beauty, honor, love, and also represents a soul within the Celtic belief.
- Native Americans believed that a butterfly would carry wishes to the Great Spirit to be granted.
- Western culture focuses on the transformation of the butterfly; “from an unattractive caterpillar to the rebirth of a beautiful winged creature.”
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if your butterfly tattoo is inked to represent your spiritual or emotional self, a transformation or metamorphosis in your life, or if it is there for its pure beauty alone. Because it means different things to different people. Some common meanings butterfly designs hold are beauty, dignity, rebirth, transformation, resurrection, life, freedom, peace, joy, tranquility, dreams, delicateness, femininity, intuition, inner beauty, immortality, fertility, faith, spirituality, grace, love, and romance.
Although many cultures believed butterflies to be the human souls who took the form, over the years people have had a fear of moths. While butterflies were believed to be everything positive, a moth is still regarded as an omen of death.
The Symbolism Of Butterfly Species and Colors
Each butterfly has a different meaning depending on its color and species. There are about 17,500 butterfly species in the world (that we are aware of!). So, there is a lot to choose from with underlying meaning. The most common species include monarch, tiger swallowtail, black swallowtail, mourning cloak, and spring azure, each of these holds a different meaning.
For instance, the monarch symbolizes new life and adventure as they are migrating butterflies. Likewise, each species represents a different meaning. Similarly, different colors represent the following(3):
Where Can You Ink A Butterfly Tattoo?
Popular places to ink a butterfly tattoo are on the neck, lower back, shoulder, or chest. You can also link them on the thigh, leg, hips, or back. But, if you are inking a petite one, you can ink on the wrist (inside of your wrist too), side of any finger, behind your ear, or ankle. There are options to uniquely customize your butterfly tattoos with names inside, with flowers, skull (more gothic style), dragonfly, simple Mehendi designs, or you may opt for matching butterfly tattoos.
On the flip side, men usually choose to place a butterfly within another tattoo design. Ignoring the British singer, of course. As long as the butterfly tattoo remains prominently a female tattoo choice, it won’t be considered as ‘manly.’ But there are several men who have inked colorful tattoos.
Butterfly Tattoo Design Ideas
Women who choose a butterfly tattoo to be inked are generally deemed to have a “free spirit” as well as unique as the patterns on the wings of the butterflies. As butterfly tattoos are versatile, they can suit anyone anywhere on the body. You can swirl any color of your choice to make them distinctive.
With an enormous variety of designs on the internet, I have made it easier for you to choose one from the vast number of butterfly tattoo designs you see everywhere. You wouldn’t want to miss these elegantly pretty and incredibly intricate butterfly tattoo designs while inking your body with meaning. So, go through the below highly recommended designs and pick your design!
3D designs with realistic butterfly tattoos are more popular these days. The tattoo artist will add layers of shading and shadow, making the wings appear to pop right off your skin.
Butterfly Tattoos With Flowers
Butterfly tattoos with flowers are elegantly pretty, especially with given detailed coloring. They generally symbolize divine beauty, everlasting youth, and innocence. You can ink them anywhere on your body. Both tiny tattoos and big tattoos are pretty with flowers adorning them.
Butterfly Tattoos On Forearm
There is no specific place for inking butterflies. It depends on the size of your butterfly tattoo design. If you prefer a relatively bigger one, you can ink them on your shoulders, nape, or side of neck, back, chest, under your breast, forearm, thigh, leg, or lower abdomen. Like the ones below, you can choose both big and simple and easy ones to ink on your forearm.
Butterfly Tattoos Under Breast
Butterfly tattoos in the sternum area are underrated. Although sensitive, your tattoos will look absolutely stunning there. You can either ink tiny ones or bigger ones under your breast. But, tiny tattoos under the breast are always prettier. Like the ones below, tiny flying butterfly tattoos are more preferred than other tattoos.
Butterfly Tattoos On Hip or Waist
A butterfly tattoo on the hip is sensual and sexy. And of course, tiny ones are prettier on the hip. However, you can choose the bigger ones as well. High on the hip, the hip bone, and the waist are a few terrific places to ink your butterfly tattoos.
Butterfly Tattoos On Shoulder
On the other hand, if you want to flaunt it, choose exposed areas to ink. You can choose basically any part of your body to ink. But tattoos on exposed areas will be there for anyone to see! One such apt place is your shoulders. Even if the size doesn’t matter on the shoulder blade, tiny ones are cute. However, if you want to flaunt, go with a bigger one. You can choose to cover the back of your shoulder too.
Butterfly Tattoos On The Nape Of Your Neck
Have you seen Vanessa Hudgens’ butterfly tattoo on her neck? The nape of your neck is another exposed area yet an attractive place to ink a tattoo. These tattoos are a sight to behold, especially when you are wearing a backless top and your hair is shoulder-length. Adorn your neck with little butterfly tattoos like the ones below!
Butterfly Tattoos For Couple
The trend of getting matching tattoos has never been taken off the table. And matching butterfly tattoos are extremely popular! You can choose to have matching tattoos with your partner, friends, or sibling.
Butterfly tattoo outlines on the ankle, fingers, and behind ears are simple and small. If you prefer tiny dotted tattoos, these are some of the great choices. Most women go with tiny tattoos considering how elegantly dainty they look basically anywhere on the body.
Butterfly tattoos on fingers and behind ears are delicate. With barely an outline, you can ink them neatly on your fingers.
Apparently, the position of the butterfly tattoos holds different meanings. While the butterfly placed on the shoulder bale represents a dreamer, the chest represents unconditional love for living things. Meanwhile, the lower back is said to represent stability and self-preservation. Interestingly, a butterfly tattoo below the belly represented virginity — a tradition of branding maidens for the Gods.
However, now they mean ‘true love.’ It seems there has been a trend for women to ink their butterfly tattoo designs on one of the seven chakra points. Although, I have never seen a woman with a butterfly on the third-eye position. Have you?