Anchor tattoos are growing in popularity, particularly among sailors of the early 1900s when crossing the Atlantic ocean for the new world became more popular and frequent. Nowadays, anchor tattoo is a popular choice for everyone, especially the anchor variations and combinations with the other tattoos. Still, what is the meaning of the anchor tattoo, and why so many people go after it?
Surprisingly, anchor tattoo is decorated with many deep meanings, some that can probably give you the strength to change your life. In this article, we’re going to discuss those meanings and look into the most popular anchor tattoo designs.
Make sure to check out our list if you’re looking for an anchor tattoo inspiration. We featured many designs that can come in handy for you.
The anchor is made out of metal and consists of a device that is connected to a cable or a rope. It’s used to connect a vessel to the seafloor which prevents the ship from drifting or moving further as a result of the sea current or the wind. It originates from the Latin word ancora, which additionally origins from the Greek word ankura. There are two types of anchors – temporary and permanent.
What Is The Origin Of The Anchor Tattoo?
Anchor tattoos are as old as time. Although the modern anchors differ compared to the original ones, anchors have been there for thousands of years. The anchor tattoos were used during the ancient Roman times and popularized when Christianity started taking over.
A lot of people who were being persecuted used a symbol similar to today’s anchor and cross to mark their body with it. As said earlier, the Christian cross and the sailing anchor look remarkably similar and come in similar sizes. That said, a popular belief has it that the first anchors were similar to the symbol of Christianity.
The ancient Christian faith was also believed to be represented with an anchor, that was tattooed on the body of those who were persecuted.
The anchor as we know it today, became popular in the tattoos during the 18th century, naturally by the sailors who traveled and explored, back then quite unknown the world. The sailors believed that the anchor tattoo will give them spiritual balance and stability, the same as the real anchor secures the boat in the harbor.
The waters can get turbulent, stormy, and changing, which can be scary and often traumatizing if a storm threatens to take your life away. That’s why sailors tattooed the anchors, to ensure that there’ll be the luck and fortune of stability and balance as they travel.
Some sailors used to etch a North Star motif to secure their luck when traveling. The north star is often used to help with orientation and navigation, so being tattooed across or inside the anchor offered sailors a hope that they’ll sail safely home. These motifs offered more hope when a sailor would be lost through the roaming waters.
Still, the anchor tattoo wasn’t always a sign of something good, but memorable, however. When a ship would break and a sailor would be lost or dead in the waters, the tattoo of an anchor was used to mark the resting place and the sailor’s final grave. Other sailors referred to the anchor tattoos to commemorate the lost comrades.
Anchor Tattoo Meaning
We looked at the origin of anchor tattoos and why they were used, which gave us a basic insight into the meaning behind this sailor-protecting symbol. Below, we’ll look into the other meanings of the anchor tattoo, and how by tattooing the anchor, you can unleash your true traits through tattoo art.
Anchors have a strong connection to loyalty be it in friendship, business, or love life. Anchors that rest at the sea floors create stability in relationships, family, marriage, and lifelong friendship, keeping the bonds you create in life strong and reliable.
If you want to tattoo an anchor on your shoulder, arm, back, or some other body part, it will be a great manifestation of loyalty and dedication in families and relationships.
Also Read: 50+ Best Loyalty Tattoos and What They Mean: Ultimate Guide (2023 Updated)
Dedication for doing what’s right and the greater do is important to people who have an anchor tattooed on them, according to the anchor’s symbolism for justice and everything right. Those who have anchor tattoos are always ready to help their friend in trouble and do everything in power for justice and righteousness to be satisfied.
Sailors used to face a great variety of challenges on their journeys, and they usually overcame those challenges by doing what was right, with the least possible consequences and sacrifices. It shows the dedication to persevere and last despite what’s thrown on them.
It took a lot of honor for the sailors to cross the ocean and overcome the angry waves of the ocean while discovering and traveling to another half of the world. People who make a tattoo of an anchor coupled with additional patterns and symbols want to highlight their sense of honor.
Such people will never give up on their friends or snitch them, hurt those who are weaker than them or betray those who they love. Given that anchor has a rich history in terms of symbolism, it is used by warriors in the battles to symbolize honor shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Regardless of all the meanings behind the anchor tattoo, probably the strongest meaning that overrides the others is the stability and security offered through the power of the anchor. It keeps the ship still, prevents it from swaying and swinging left and right, or getting lost in the ocean. It also prevents the ships from moving in the harbor and potentially damaging the other ships.
That’s why anchor is the symbolic sign of stability and security. Similarly to the way the ship is stable in one place thanks to the anchor, the same way its symbolism brings stability to you and your peers, relationships, friendships, and family affairs.
Given that the anchor originates from early Christianity, it also holds a strong symbolism for protection. The Christ believers who fought in the name of God carried the tattoos of a vessel that resembles something between the anchor and cross, believing that it protects them from the evil forces and sin.
In the same way, it’s believed that anchor presents protection from the evil spirits, envy, jealousy, and betrayal.
Also Read: 18 Best Protection Tattoo Ideas & Meanings
When we talk about the salvation meaning of the anchor tattoo, we can’t help but look at the brave sailors again, who were traveling through the raging storms and battling the high waves.
Anchors and harbors offered salvation to them because once the ship sailed into the anchor, they felt like they were at home, surrounded by the calm waters. It also plays an important role in the change, which we may see as salvation.
Such change can involve making physical changes, healing from heartbreak or loss of a loved one, letting go of the negativity that crippled us, and more.
Enlightenment is an important symbol that stands behind the tattoo of an anchor. It helps people understand their flaws or other things that they were, perhaps doing wrong. Enlightenment also helps people come to an understanding of who is good for them and who isn’t.
Given that the anchor tattoo symbols first appeared with Christianity, for many people transcending into the belief in Jesus and Christianity in general represented one form of enlightenment.
Finally, the tattoo of an anchor, coupled with other symbolisms and meanings can represent the glimpse of hope of the warm sun after the rain and better days. Many people who are facing challenges that they think are impossible to overcome, get inked with an anchor in the hope for better days to come and more fortune for those people.
Where’s The Best Spot To Make An Anchor Tattoo?
Men and women who are getting the anchor tattoo have different preferences and generally make an anchor tattoo on their shoulder, arm, or back. But, where is the truest best spot for the anchor tattoo to be located? Here are some of the spots that we found the best.
- Anchor tattoo on forearm
- Anchor tattoo on wrist.
- Anchor tattoo on thighs
- Anchor tattoo on calves
- Anchor tattoo on shoulder
- Anchor tattoo near the rib cage
- Anchor tattoo behind the ear
- Anchor tattoo on the back.
- Anchor tattoo sleeve
- Anchor tattoo on the neck
12 Best Anchor Tattoo Designs
Whether you’re looking for a large anchor tattoo or rather a small one, coming with a design created that is unique and better than any others that you’ve found can be difficult and exhausting.
If you ran out of inspiration, we prepared a list of the best anchor tattoo designs, suitable for everyone. Make sure to check them out.
1. Anchor & Humming Bird
This tattoo features a lot of symbols. The longer you stare at it, the more symbols you’ll notice. Eventually, you’ll be left admiring this work of art, because all the symbols in the puzzle fit perfectly and depict the perfect meanings. You can find a hummingbird, which is often associated with the sea and water, an infinity sign sitting at the top of the anchor, a rope, as well as a text, etched into the anchor.
There is a lot of attention to detail, while the complete artwork looks pleasing to the eye and attractive. Hopefully, this will be a great idea for your next tattoo, and the best part is that it can sit anywhere.
2. Floral Anchor
No tattoo listicle goes without a gorgeous floral work attached to the center of our focus, and that is the anchor. We believe that the primary focus of this tattoo is the flowers. The anchor is minimally focused on, but that’s what makes it even more creative and artistic. For those who are looking for simple and easy to make tattoo designs, this is a perfect choice.
This tattoo design can also go well on other body parts, such as the forearm, wrist, thighs, back, shoulder, and chest.
3. Snake & Anchor
Like we said earlier, the anchor can be combined with a great variety of other symbols. One of them is a snake, the symbol of wisdom, healing, protection, and more. At first sight, we all perceive snakes as venomous predators that we fear. Combined with an anchor symbol, these two give an impression of stability and protection. There are also floral symbols, so we can call this design quite abstract too.
This is a great design for forearms, but you can also find it on the biceps, back, wrists, sides, and thighs.
Also Read: Best Snake Tattoo Designs To Inspire You: The Art of Curls
4. Anchor With Compass
There are a lot of tattoo designs that feature an anchor together with a compass. Both objects are proudly used by the sailors, the first one helps keep their ship in the harbor, while the compass helps with the orientation. The two are inseparable on tattoos and also blend well together.
This design, although it seems fresh, still needing to heal, gives a detailed projection of how connected the anchor and compass are. They are two things that a sailor, an explorer can’t go without. There are a lot more designs that are similar to this one, and they can be found in different positions across the body.
5. Black Anchor
If there was a competition for the most minimalistic design, it’d be this black anchor. There’s not a lot to say about it, except that it’s compact and tiny as a button, which makes it cute in the process. Of course, you can play with different locations on your body and see how it’d look like if you inked it.
Still, we recommend that you combine this design with some extra decorations like flowers, sky, birds, ropes, and other symbols. If you’re looking for a pure and simple design that won’t be too time-consuming and painful, then this works too.
6. Mermaid On Anchor
Mermaids are a popular choice on a tattoo, and a lot of sailors combine mermaid designs with their anchor tattoos. This particular tattoo probably focuses on as many ocean elements, such as this one, where a mermaid is sitting on an anchor surrounded by the wavy sea.
The anchor tattoo can be combined with many designs that are associated with the ocean and sailing. You only need to get creative enough and experiment with hand-drawn designs until you find what you’re looking for.
7. Traditional Anchor Tattoo
This is another abstract anchor design, embedded with beautifully-looking and vibrant patterns etched in the design. In addition to the lovely-looking, a kind of tribe-like anchor, there is also a large ship centering at the top of the anchor.
This looks like sort of the old anchor tattoos, that is resonating with the 17th and 18th century after the sailors already became well-versed with the oceans and seas around the globe. It’d look great on any tattoo design that you choose.
8. Anchor Tattoo On Neck
Not a lot of people dare to make neck tattoos, but the result of this one is definitely worth the pain and struggle. Not many people opt to have an anchor tattooed on their neck, but this one is quite detailed, sharp, and precisely drawn. It’s visible that it was inked by a professional.
This simple anchor design is easy to remaster, and you can combine other symbols with this design as well as other tattoo locations of your preference.
9. Sleeve Anchor Tattoo
Anchors appear on numerous sleeve tattoos. Like this one above, anchor sleeve tattoos are connected with other symbols associated with sailors and sea life. This particular tattoo is enriched with a compass, which is a loyal companion of a lot of the anchor tattoos.
In addition to that, there is a map of Earth, which is made to add the background effect to the sleeve. Of course, you can add more details such as the chain, or even make a colorful design to the anchor sleeve tattoo. Nevertheless, this minimalistic design looks crisp and detailed.
Also Read: Half Sleeve Tattoos For Men: 30+ Best Design Recommendations
10. Anchor On A Rope Tattoo
The rope is an interesting detail that you can add to your anchor tattoo if you’re out of ideas. A lot of anchors boast wire or a more solid cable, while the ropes are present in older and older ships. Nevertheless, this anchor comes with a detailed compass, which, as mentioned above is a popular addition to the anchor tattoos.
11. Heart Anchor
This simplistic but highly creative anchor tattoo boasts a rope that connects the anchor to the heart-shaped balloon. The heart is a symbol of love, especially if it’s red, like in the tattoo displayed above. It’s also a great addition to the small wrist-like tattoos, as well as smaller designs that are harder to notice but still play an important role in your life.
Also Read: Heart Tattoos: What They Mean And 24 Design Ideas
12. Infinity Anchor
The last tattoo from our list is the Infinity anchor tattoo, but it’s also one of the best anchor tattoo designs that we saw. It’s rich in details and different motifs. The anchor is attached to infinity, a forever sign that is embroidered with flowers, leaves, and other floral-like symbols. If you want to dedicate this tattoo to a certain person you can even add a name, like in this picture.
Alternatively, you can add a date, lyrics, or a memorable quote that leads you through life. This way or another, the possibilities are endless.
Also Read: 60+ Amazing Infinity Tattoo Ideas 2023 (And Celebrities)
Additional Questions About Anchor Tattoo
Anchor tattoos have a lot of meanings, and nearly everyone can identify with the meaning of anchor. However, it was mostly sailors and people who work on the sea that opt to get this tattoo. Now, the popularity of the anchor tattoos changed and other people also opt to try them out.
Here we answer some additional questions about the anchor tattoos, make sure to check them and see if you find something that will interest you.
How Much Do The Anchor Tattoos Cost?
The price varies from artist to artist. Some studios are affordable enough to offer a sub-$100 deal. However, more professional tattoo studios and artists will account for the size of the tattoo, whether it’s a sleeve tattoo, and adds more elements into the design, how much time it’ll take, and other factors.
When all of these are calculated, the price of the anchor tattoo can be up to $500, and sometimes even more in certain studios.
Are Anchor Tattoos For Men?
Anchor tattoos are popular among men, because of their associations to sailing and the sea. However, they’re not only limited to men. Nevertheless, it’s more likely to see a man asking for it than a woman.
What Symbol To Tattoo Together With Anchor?
This choice is up to your preferences. Luckily, if you’re out of ideas, many symbols go well with an anchor. Some of them include, but are not limited to:
- Anchor with a heart
- Anchor with a compass
- Anchor with a rope
- Anchor with a mermaid
- Anchor with a bird such as a swallow, sparrow, or hummingbird.
- Anchor on a ship
You can get creative with different designs and consult your friends or a tattoo artist that is going to work on your tattoo about the best ideas.