A Visual Guide to Sailor Tattoos

The meaning behind sailors' beautiful, nautical themed inkings

©dragonbackBANNER.jpg

Compromised as they may seem, sailors' tattoos once held significance and occasionally still do. At the height of the ship-faring age, symbols like the anchor and north star signified rank and experience, while others were meant to ward off bad fortunes at sea. (Fun fact: The Macy's logo comes from a star tattoo that founder Rowland Hussey Macy got inked on his hand while working on a whaling ship as a teenager.)

In collaboration with Christina Sun at Bowsprite, we've put together a compendium of sailor tattoos and their respective meanings.

This post also appears on Scuttlefish, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Entertainment

Just In