Bat tattoos are considered one of the creepiest and most sinister of animal tattoo designs. In general, bats are highly misunderstood creatures; therefore, their symbolic meanings are largely based on fear. Many people find bat tattoos appealing because of this sinister, dark nature, while others are attracted to their many deeper meanings.
Bat tattoos can be very powerful symbols—appropriate for those whose intuition plays a major part in their lives. They can also represent exploration of that which is not easily seen, or which is hidden beneath the surface. Many people tend to regard bats as unclean and as signs of darkness and death when, ironically, they are symbolic of positive attributes, such as longevity, happiness, mystery, dreams, intuition, rebirth, communication and inner depth.
Bat Tattoo Styles and Designs
Bat tattoos often feature bats in a simple manner—bundled up and at rest or with wings spread wide open across the wearer’s shoulders, back, chest or stomach. Although some designs are drawn in cartoon-like styles, many people opt for realistic images of these creatures which often requires fine-line detailing due to numerous tiny veins within their wings. Intricate images such as these are often combined with Gothic scenes to create dark and mysterious pieces.
Bat tattoos are typically applied using dark brown or black ink but may also be done in various hues of gray to give an appearance of stone. However, some people choose to use brightly colored inks in order to portray the more positive attributes or bats.
Symbolism in Bat Tattoos
In Chinese culture, bats are seen as symbols of good fortune, longevity and happiness. Images containing five bats, no matter how they are arranged, represents the five types of happiness: peace, prosperity, long life, virtuous love and a happy death. A set of bats surrounding any Chinese character can create a talisman tattoo.
In Native American culture, bats are seen as symbols of both death and rebirth. Early Native Americans recognized that bats were highly sensitive their surroundings and considered them symbols of intuition, dreaming and vision. They also observed that bats were highly social creatures and very nurturing, exhibiting verbal communication, touching and sensitivity to members of their groups. Individuals with bats as their totem (Native American symbol of a tribe, family or individual) are typically very aware of their surroundings and may be especially sensitive to the feelings of others.
In early Christian art, angels were depicted as having bird wings, while demons were depicted as having bat wings. It was once believed that a woman’s hair attracted these bat-winged demons so they covered it during church. Hence, in Christianity, the bat has long been attributed with the qualities of darkness, evil and death.
In Spain, bats are symbols of victory in heraldry. They are on the coat of arms for the Spanish city of Valencia where legend tells of the Spanish king’s victorious battle with the Saracens through the intervention of the bat.
Vampire Bat Tattoos
Blood-sucking vampire bats are creatures of stealth and agility. They approach their sleeping pray without disturbing it, swiftly sinking their razor sharp fangs into its flesh and licking the blood. Legends often portray vampire bats as forms of the devil as well as vampires. When vampire stories became especially popular in Europe in the 19th century, characteristics of the vampire bat were incorporated into Dracula’s image. Bram Stoker’s 1897 book Dracula seemed to solidify the bat’s reputation as an evil blood-sucking creature. Today, most vampire bat tattoos generally depict the same image—bats with bloody fangs.
Batman tattoos have a very distinctive look and not only show a love for this iconic character but also a joyful connection to one’s youth. Although Batman doesn’t have super powers, he fearlessly uses his intellect, wealth, physical expertise, science and technology to battle evil. Batman tattoos are often composed of the black bat silhouette inside of a bright yellow oval, such as the original symbol of the 1960’s television show; however, it is not uncommon to see Batman himself on the arm, chest, back or leg of a comic book enthusiast.
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