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.