A Visual Guide to Sailor Tattoos

By Owen James Burke

The meaning behind sailors' beautiful, nautical themed inkings

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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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/12/a-visual-guide-to-sailor-tattoos/250208/