Remember Bambi? The majority of us have encountered deer in Disney movies like Bambi. Ever since the 1950s, because of this movie depiction of deer life, people have been in awe when it comes to this wonderful, gentle, and peaceful animal.
And, of course, Bambi and similar movies weren’t the first to introduce us to the deer life; for hundreds of years, people have written about deer and roe deer, often describing them as these spiritual, harmonious, and peaceful animals that seem otherwordly and magical at times.
So, one cannot help but wonder whether deer tattoos carry the same meaning and symbolism, or are people getting deer tattoos just for the awesome design. In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at what deer tattoo mean, symbolize, and which deer tattoo design would fit you the best. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Deer (and Deer Tattoos): Meaning and Symbolism Explained
Deer Symbolism Throughout the History and Cultures
Throughout history, especially in the literature, deer have been uniquely presented. One of the first writings mentioning deer regarded their biology, behavior, and possible use by humans. Old English texts for example, like the one of Topsell’s History of Four-Footed Beasts, were mainly educational and informative in regards to deer and their possible hunting.
However, as people started to study these animals beyond their use to humans, we’ve discovered a spirit of softness and gentleness, which has become a pivotal symbolism of deer in fictional literature.
Stemming from the honor and spirituality of deer, ascribed to them by the ancient peoples and Native Americans, deer have become a personification of spirit, spirituality, femininity, sophistication, gentleness, and softness. Their appearance was almost fairytale-like and mythical to anyone who has encountered them.
In many cultures, a deer is a symbol of spiritual authority, spirituality, and spiritual regeneration. For example, in the Christian tradition, the deer symbolizes piety, devotion, and sainthood. In Celtic tradition, on the other hand, the deer symbolizes femininity, grace, and gentleness. In some of the Celtic legends, it was known for men to call on deer to save them from the traps of the physical, earthly world and take them to the world of magic.
For Native Americans, deer were seen and animals of spiritual power, gentleness, and reliable messengers. They were also seen as a symbol of fertility.
In Buddhism, on the other hand, deer were seen as a symbol of happiness, peace, harmony, and long life. It is believed that Buddha was a golden deer in the former life who spoke to people and helped them solve their problems. This story is one of the main belief postulates in Tibetan legends.
In Mexican and South American culture, deer were seen as animals able to translate the language of the gods to the common people. They were seen as interpreters of gods’ messages, especially to the people of central Mexico, known as huicholes. These people have their belief system and the ritual calendar is completely arranged according to the reproductive cycle of the deer.
Deer Tattoos and Symbolism
As one can imagine, deer tattoos surely rely on the cultural and traditional interpretation of the deer. This animal is seen as a source of imagination and creativity for numerous tattooists and artists across the globe. The deer especially, because of their crown and stance, are the inspiration for breathtaking tattoo designs and art pieces.
However, in the majority of cases, the deer tattoos and their symbolism stem from the historical, cultural, and traditional symbolism ascribed to these animals. Therefore, deer tattoo meaning and symbolism generally comprises;
- Peace – as being naturally peaceful animals, deer and roe deer are seen as the protectors of peace and harmony among the animals and other creatures. Deer are known to keep themselves out of trouble (unless provoked, for example, during the mating season).
- Femininity – as we’ve mentioned earlier, In Native American and Celtic tradition, deer were seen as symbols of femininity and grace. There are also characterized by their softness and gentleness, which are also traditionally feminine features.
- Beauty – of course, deer and roe deer are incredibly beautiful animals; they are highly graceful and elegant, and even though strong and resilient, they also carry a trait of fragility to them. If you’ve ever seen a deer in a forest, you’ll recognize when we say that their appearance is almost mythical and otherwordly.
- Kindness – deer are generally very peaceful and kind animals. They are gentle towards other animals as well as humans. Wherever they appear, they bring a sense of harmony and goodness with them, which is a sign of their kindness.
- Motherly love – to go back to Bambi, we all know that roe deer and deer are seen as a symbol of a good family and motherly love. Roe deer are known to be excellent in raising children and completely devoting themselves to the life of the child.
- Spirituality and mythicality – as we’ve mentioned, numerous cultures and traditions see deer as a symbol of the otherworldly, magic, mythicality, and spirituality. Because deer appearance and behavior are always special to witness, many describe it as fairytale-like.
40+ Best Deer Tattoo Design Ideas
Deer Head Tattoo
Deer head has always been the predominant choice for a tattoo design. Because of the stance of the deer, and the crown, the deer had is the perfect source of inspiration for creative designs.
It is known that deer hunters tend to get a deer head tattoo as respect for the animals; some hunters do this to show off the deer as a trophy, unfortunately. However, deer head tattoos are generally seen as an honor to these beautiful animals. The focus is on the beauty of the deer’s stance and crown (the crown being the deer’s pride).
Geometric Deer Tattoo
Geometric deer tattoos are often focused on the deer head solely. The reason for this lies n the deer crown that is perfect for incorporating geometric shapes and designs. The deer face is also a perfect canvas for different geometric shapes and patterns. In such tattoos, there is a lot of line work, use of negative space, dotting, and shading. If you want a meaningful, yet simplistic but effective tattoo, we recommend you go with the geometric design.
Exaggerated Deer Crown Tattoo
Another variation of the deer head tattoo design is the one featuring an exaggerated deer crown. These tattoos are mainly focused on the deer crown, so the deer head and body are generally smaller compared to the crown.
The point of this design is to emphasize the aspect of the deer that is more related to the animal’s strength and power. Deer use the crown to fight with other deer for the female or to defend themselves from the other animals trying to attack them.
Flower Deer Crown Tattoo
There’s no better way to accentuate the femininity and beauty of deer and roe deer than by getting a flower deer crown tattoo. Such a tattoo design doesn’t just accentuate the femininity aspect but also emphasizes the incredible connection between the deer and their natural surroundings.
The deer and its natural habitat complete one another to such an extent that they seem like one, which is portrayed in these tattoo designs. Even though the focus is on the feminine traits, the flower deer tattoos are perfectly fitting for both men and women.
Natural Deer Tattoo
A natural deer tattoo means that the design of the tattoo is inspired completely by the realistic nature of the animal. There are no exaggerated lines, colors, or additional patterns. The tattoo is portraying the deer or the roe deer in its true colors, soft lines, and peacefulness. Such tattoo design is for those who want to honor this animal in its true form and reality.
Deer Skull Tattoo
To divert from the feminine aspect of the deer or roe deer, many tend to get deer skull tattoos. The main audience for such tattoo designs is generally men because they seem to connect more to these masculine traits of a deer, rather than the spiritual, feminine, and elegant traits.
These tattoos are very intense and in some cases even ominous and evil-foreshadowing. They symbolize death and the remains of what the animals used to be. Compared to the generally peaceful and spiritual symbolism of a deer, the deer skull tattoo design separates from it as much as possible.
Simplistic Deer Tattoos
These tattoos often feature a deer outline, with a few details and shades here and there. The simplistic deer tattoos are perfect for those who want to keep things simple, yet effective. The design is rarely complicated, and the tattoos are often black or grey (or feature hints of color).
This means that the tattoo won’t cost you a fortune, but it will still suit you and translate the deer symbolism effectively. The simple deer tattoos also seem to be the most gentle ones; they effectively translate the gentleness and fragility of the male and female deer.
Where Should You Place Your Deer Tattoo?
Considering the shape of a typical deer tattoo design, it can be pretty interesting to decide where would be the best tattoo placement. Here are some of our recommendations;
- The chest area – sure, getting a tattoo on the chest can be pretty painful. But, with an awesome deer tattoo, it is more than worth it. The chest is excellent for deer designs that feature exaggerated deer crowns or a deer skull.
- The thigh area – if you’re looking to get a larger deer tattoo, but don’t want it to be too obvious and visible, we recommend the thigh area. This area is large enough to fit medium to large tattoos, even if the deer crown is exaggerated in the design. The pain might vary from bearable to very painful, depending on whether you have a thicker muscle or a leaner thigh.
- The upper arm/bicep/sleeve area – another excellent location for a deer tattoo is the upper arm or bicep area. You can use the upper arm to get a small or medium size deer tattoo, or the whole sleeve area to create a cohesive deer tattoo that will feature other designs and patterns as well. This tattoo area can be easily covered, so you don’t have to worry about the tattoo interfering with your work.
- The upper back/shoulder area – this area is great because it is smooth and flat, so you can go as wild with the tattoo design as you want. The pain is relatively bearable; the more the tattoo is away from the center of the back, the less will the tattoo hurt. This area is great for larger tattoos, but can also look cute with a smaller, simpler deer outline.
- The forearm area – this is the most common tattoo location one can choose. It is flat, smooth and tattoos on the forearm look great in almost every case. Your deer tattoo will look perfect on the forearm, regardless of the size or type of the tattoo. This means that you can go crazy with the design and do something truly unique. The tattoo can be easily covered with long sleeves, but it will be visible during the hotter weather.
- The foot area – even though the foot is one of the most painful tattooing locations, we believe that the most daring among us can use it to get an amazing deer tattoo. As you can see from our exemplary tattoo, the deer tattoo looks exceptional on the foot. So, the next time you’re trying to think of a new placement for a tattoo, consider the foot, or the ankle area.
We hope that you liked our tattoo selection for deer tattoo design. Our goal was to bring the symbolism and meaning of the deer as close to you as possible and showcase the currently best tattoo design ideas you can be inspired by. If you find we missed something, or think there’s something we should include in the article, let us know. For more information and tattoo designs, make sure to check out our similar articles on the site.