Steadfast & Beautiful Elephant Tattoo Guide

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Elephant tattoo is an excellent choice for many people that want to use this magnificent animal to convey a message of community, memories, family, mercy, healing, and love.

Many who have been through a long and hard journey, and came out as strong fighters can identify with the elephant symbol.

Especially if your journey meant you taking care of your family or people in need (something elephant packs are known for), the elephant is an excellent animal symbol for you.

Furthermore, elephants are often associated with grief because they ritualistically mourn their dead. Having an Elephant tattoo can be one way to memorialize a profound loss.

Elephant teaches how to nourish the mind, body, and spirit, so you are strong during trying times.

If you want to learn more about these gentle giants, read below and find amazing elephant tattoo designs to inspire your next tattoo!

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Every Tattoo Has A Story – Elephant Tattoo Meaning

As omnipresent as they are in many cultures, elephants are actually native only to Africa and Asia.

This animal is an important figure in cultural mythologies of African and Asian religions.

The impact of the elephant animal symbology surpasses these boarders, as the elephant spirit animal appears in the devotional beliefs of people around the world.

The world’s most gentle giant has a fairly positive symbology, and its meanings include among many others:

  • intelligence,
  • wisdom,
  • strength and protection,
  • unity and family,
  • majesty,
  • good luck,
  • loyalty,
  • strength,
  • and other noble qualities.

To further solidify its long standing positive meanings, on an ancient Grecian tablet were carved the words:

“Plato told me that everything I needed to know about life can be seen in elephants.”

One of the main meanings that the elephant is used for is to show unwavering dedication to one’s family (herd).

Elephants are highly social animals, they live in large herds and never leave them for the rest of their lives.

In fact, elephant herds are matriarchal societies. The leader of an elephant herd is the oldest female, who is the holder of the herd’s experience and knowledge to survive.

Because of that, the female elephant remains with her mother and grandmother, to learn everything she can in order to ensure her herd’s survival.

Besides their great loyalty to each other, an important trait why elephant tattoos are done to symbolize one’s devotion to their family is because of elephant’s trait of strong protection.

Elephants are known for their protectiveness – an elephant will personally endanger themselves to protect their calves and their herd.

Like the bear, wolf, or lion, the elephant doesn’t back down when it’s needed to be fiercely protective.

Furthermore, elephant’s have been an animal used as different deities.

So, getting a sacred elephant-headed God in the design for your Ganesha tattoo, for example, can remind you of your ability to break through obstacles and clear the way when you need to navigate through difficulties.

Then there’s Baku, the mythic creature with the head of an elephant and body of a tiger, can help remind you that you are walking through both the intellectual, esoteric and intuitive realm of dreams and the mundane world of the physical realm.

Asian Elephant Symbolism

In Asia, the elephant is generally considered a symbol of good luck and the animal is a symbol of good fortune.

Furthermore, many Asian cultures attribute divinity and benevolence to elephants, as well as wisdom, loyalty, strength, fidelity and longevity.

The wisdom and longevity symbolism comes from the fact that elephants (unlike many other animals) can reach up to 70 years of age, and it’s believed that they retain all its wisdom throughout.

In ancient China and Cambodia, elephants were used in wars to win battles as far back as the 6th century BC.

Elephants also have regal meanings to them, stemming from Chinese emperors giving their status important positions at the palaces.

Because elephants were known for their strength, ancient emperors placed elephant statues in front of their palaces for protection and to bring good fortune.

Practitioners of Feng shui believe that a stature of an elephant with their trunk up can improve the inflow of good fortune in your life.

White Elephant Symbolism in Asia

With different species, the white elephant having been chosen by Buddha was because he wanted to use it for his many incarnations.

The white elephant is a rare animal and their appearance today will still be considered a phenomenon of the gods. It is the most positive animal symbol known with no negative consequence.

In addition to Buddhism, a white elephant appears in other cultures. In Indian mythology, a deity named Airavata is a white elephant who carries Indra, the god of war and monsoons. Thus, in India, a white elephant is associated with rain and is often depicted flying in the sky like a white cloud.

African Elephant Symbolism

Elephant is native to Africa, which lead many different cultures around this vast continent to adopt this majestic animal in their folklore.

African cultures are not monolithic, however we can find some common symbolism related to elephants.

It’s considered an animal of great influence, often in the role of King or even mediator helping other animals sort out their conflicts.

Another important symbolism for the elephant is victory in war. Even though elephants themselves are not violent animals, their association with war comes more as symbol of victory, rather than helping the aggressors.

The Ashanti People revere the elephants which are considered leaders reincarnated.

Likewise, the Yoruba people of West Africa often attributed domestic and wild animal traits to persons.

Referring to someone as having a connection to elephant (or even to part of elephant such as the tusk) is to draw a connection between that individual and the prosperity, strength or wisdom associated with Elephant.

In some cultures it was also believed that shapeshifting between human and elephant form is possible. This is symbolic of humans adopting the strength, wisdom, memory and compassion of Elephant and Elephant interacting with humanity as a guide and leader.

Best Elephant Tattoo Placements

Since the head of the elephant has easy recognition, many go for an elephant head tattoo.

So, the popularity of the elephant hand tattoo has risen, because it fits easily within the space given.

However, elephant tattoos are barely restricted to only this one placement.

Given that the animal has great physical greatness, many opt out for bigger tattoo designs, going for an elephant thigh tattoo or elephant arm tattoo.

There are also the biggest projects when the elephant body is used for a full back tattoo.

Neverthless, elephants have a very distinct form that allows even the tiniest tattoos of just a well recognizable elephant outline tattoo – the big ears, plump body and the tusk will always give it away!

Elephant Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best elephant tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

Are you looking for a custom elephant tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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