When we talk about mythical creatures, none is more beloved than or as popular as The Unicorn. These animals have a great impact on tattoo culture overall. These magnificent creatures made their first appearance in Western mythology in 398 BC. The Greek historian, Ctesias of Cnidus, talked about awe-inspiring “wild asses” in the exotic land on India which were “as big as a horse” with a “horn on their forehead”. Ctesias might have been actually describing the Indian rhinoceros, but that didn’t stop millions of people from superimposing Ctesias’ description onto the image of a horse, thus creating the legend of The Unicorn.
During the Middle Ages, artisans took the unicorn myth and reached a completely new dimension. The legend became intertwined with medicine, magic, and healing. Members of various royal families even drank from a cup ‘made’ from the horn of a unicorn. In reality, they drank from a rhino’s horn, but this notion gave rise to the idea that these animals were pure at heart, noble, courageous, and strong, all the traits of a good king or pure queen. No wonder numerous royal symbols and family crests have a unicorn in their designs.
Unicorns represent purity and charity, which are rare virtues in human society. Some scholars believe that this may account for why many stories often lament about the rarity of a unicorn sighting.
But unicorns are not just a Western concept. In China, there is a legend of the Qilin. The Qilin is part of the four animals charged with the duty of helping to create the world. This animal quickly became associated with spiritual purity. Being touched by, or seeing, a unicorn meant that God gave order to a person to carry out a task. According to various legends, both Confucius’ and Buddha’s mothers saw unicorns before giving birth to these spiritual men and in the Garden of Eden, the first creature to be named by Adam and Eve was a unicorn. The majestic animal was then blessed by the touch of God on the tip of its horn.
The Meaning of Unicorn Tattoos
Because of the rich history of these mythological creatures, unicorns have come to embody a number of traits and some of them are:
- Chastity and Purity
- Healing (horn)
Even though most of these tattoo designs are white, it isn’t uncommon to have unicorns in a variety of colors (blue, black, white, pink) or designs that feature any number of additional elements. Some artists decide to add other mythical creatures such as fairies, gnomes, or dragons to play up the mysterious aura of these majestic creatures. Moreover, it is not uncommon to add wings to a unicorn in order to reinforce the message of freedom and frivolity. At the end of the day, only you as a wearer can decide how many or how few elements you’d like to incorporate into your design. Here are some of the most popular unicorn tattoo variations:
Due to the fact that unicorns are so deeply entrenched in human history and mythology, it is not strange that tribal patterns featuring these mythical creatures are nowadays common tattoo design elements. Tribal tattoo designs often represent unicorns in a dominant stance which highlights your powerful presence and inner strength. Getting this tattoo design is a great way to show the world that you identify yourself with the noble characteristics of these awe-inspiring legends.
The legend of the unicorn in Ireland existed long before the ancient Romans set foot on her emerald shores. Celtic symbols and tattoos are connected with a rich spiritual and cultural history, which when combined with a unicorn, sends a clear message of strength, dominance, and spiritual power.
When you think of cartoon Unicorn tattoos, images from My Little Pony and The Last Unicorn (1982) immediately come to mind. These pieces serve as pay homage to the chaste representation of the unicorn. With cartoon tattoos, there is the freedom to whimsical variations on the classic unicorn image and these tattoos usually refer to an age of innocence for the person wearing them. Cartoon unicorn tattoos have a tendency of being a ‘girl thing’ since there aren’t many men (straight or otherwise) that are willing to walk around with the picture of a pink unicorn on their body.
When deciding the right tattoo design, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First and foremost is the emotional and spiritual significance that you’ll give to your new tattoo. The best tattoos are those that possess priceless personal value 20 minutes or 20 years from the day they were first inked onto your skin, so that is why you need to take your time creating a beautiful, meaningful design.