Dove Tattoo Meaning – What Do Dove Tattoos Symbolize?
Doves are a classic symbol of peace, purity, love, and tranquility that are often translated into meaningful tattoo ideas.
The white dove has been linked to peace since pre-biblical times, often in conjunction with the olive branch. It has also been a fixture in the representation of love, honor, and loyalty since the time of Greek mythology.
Predominantly a black and gray tattoo design, a dove symbol, or flying dove is often depicted with links to Christianity, from memorial tattoos and celebrations of life, or to accompany the wider tattoo meaning of a larger religious piece.
Below you’ll find a deeper explanation of the dove tattoo idea and its rich symbolic meaning, which will provide tattoo lovers with the right knowledge to incorporate the bird into beautiful body art of their own.
1. Peace Dove Tattoo Meaning
The flying dove is primarily used as an icon representing peace and tranquility, thanks primarily to its association with victory
A peaceful feather or dove can be linked to archetypes older than Christianity, such as the Aramean goddesses Inanna and Ishtar. There are also connections to the ancient “Epic of Gilgamesh,” which is a text that predates every other ascribed meaning.
The dove tattoo idea is also often associated with love, thanks to Venus and Aphrodite in Roman and Greek mythology, respectively.
Greek mythology used the dove as a powerful symbol in combination with the olive branch to represent victory, leading to the association of the bird with peace and tranquility in the absence of war.
2. Love Symbol
While most commonly used as a motif of peace and purity, doves can also be represented by your tattoo artist with loyalty and affection to a romantic partner.
Doves are released as a mark of love and joy during celebrations, such as coming of age ceremonies, weddings, and births. This deep meaning is a great opportunity for you to make an amazing dove tattoo serving as a sentimental reminder of an event or someone in your life
They are often selected by the tattoo enthusiast to mark a particularly important part of life because of their association with love.
Being pure white in color they have also been linked with purity since biblical times.
3. Christianity and Dove Tattoo Meaning
Dove tattoo designs are popular symbols linked to heaven, with roots in the Bible and Torah. Tattoo lovers looking for religious tattoos can use the dove to forge a bond with the Holy Spirit or use the white bird as a great tattoo linked to the purity of faith.
Doves are also a stunning choice for a heaven tattoo idea. A flying dove tattoo can be realistically rendered in smaller areas, and with a few clever background elements (think of a clouds tattoo, for example) can perfectly embody heaven without taking up tons of space.
Some of the Christian tattoos that incorporate dove symbolism or a dove’s feather tattoo into the design include:
- The Virgin Mary
- The Christian Cross
- The Gates of Heaven
- Angels, halos, and wings
They also make a great choice to add a layer of deep meaning to a larger piece, especially within classical black and gray tattoos that may need a variety of Christian themes to create the right level of shade and contrast.
4. Memorial Tattoos with Dove Symbolism
If you or your loved one count religion or spirituality as a big part of life, you can commemorate them with an inspiring beautiful tattoo of a dove
Doves (to associate with being at peace), roses, and crosses are gorgeous when inked as part of memorial tattoos, or in combination with biblical phrases or affirmations.
By doing a memorial tattoo this way also makes your tattoo less of a public statement and more of a personal tribute between you and the departed.
5. Dove and Olive Branch Tattoo Meaning
Dove and olive branch tattoos are often used as twin images used to further the concept of peace, tranquility, and to a lesser extent, love and purity.
The Greeks and Romans (and then Christians) also regarded the dove and olive branch as a link to purity, so they were frequently used to demonstrate the old ideal of “pure” virgin brides, with the wearing of white and the use of olive branches in bouquets.
Some of the earliest Christian art pieces use the combination of dove and olive branch as an enchanting metaphor for the Holy Spirit.
6. Dove Feather Tattoo Meaning
A feather tattoo is usually related to a love of birds; however, many others connect the presentation to travel and freedom, or in the dove’s case, purity and peace.
As a smaller bird, the dove feather tattoo is usually delicate and used when a collector doesn’t want a dominant full bird tattoo image.
The significance of the feather tattoo often varies depending on the feather being engraved, and for many, the dove’s feather may be part of a wider tattoo concept.
7. A Classic Black and Gray Ink Favorite
Dove tattoo designs are overwhelmingly done in black and gray ink, primarily because it’s hard to bring a white bird tattoo to life without greater cost, the need for touch-ups, and even complete re-working.
With the inclusion of shaded gradients, wildly rich 3D designs have suddenly been enabled, with the dove being a cool choice for those looking for Christian tattoos, neo-classical tattoos, and peace themes.
Realistic portraiture is now commonplace, and the same is true for extensive landscapes and complex designs done with the highly detailed single-needle approach.
8. The Dove in Chicano Tattooing
The Chicano tattoo style is characterized by a black and gray color palette, elaborate lettering, and the fine lines used to produce a variety of different design elements, including religious iconography, pinup girls, script, and gang-related content.
A feature of Chicano tattoos is the sheer volume of different images, often linked by themes. Sleeves, full chest and back designs, and a combination of similar ideals are all tied into their depiction.
The dove tattoo design is often used as a companion tattoo in large pieces dedicated to Christianity, found alongside tattoos of the Virgin Mary, the Cross, angels, Jesus, praying hands, and the stairs-to-heaven design idea.
9. Small Dove Tattoo Designs
A small bird tattoo can be popular with many collectors, but more particularly the female tattoo enthusiast, who has a tendency to look for detailed symbolic designs and subtle depictions of their concepts.
The neck, hands, wrist, ankle, foot, ribcage, and side are growing in popularity for small dove tattoo designs, as they can remain uncovered or be hidden effectively.
The increase in visible tattoo art over the past 20 years means areas once considered risky are being utilized for small tattoo art. This goes hand in hand with artistic ideas popular for dove tattoo designs.
10. The Use of White Ink in Dove Tattoos
It’s hard to etch a dove tattoo in the pure white you see the bird in nature.
Most often, doves are depicted in traditional black and gray tattoos, with the white tone expressed by incrementally shaded gray ink or the use of negative space.
White ink is predominantly used as a highlight or accent color to further enhance the natural variation between light and dark shading and line work applications.
There are some tattoos that use white ink as a core component of the design (and purely white ink tattoos) however they tend to need more touch-ups and refreshing.
A dove tattoo is very much an old-school design, most commonly applied to represent peace, love, and tranquility in black and gray types of tattoo art. Being a white animal, there are significant drawbacks to attempting to etch the bird as a pure white tattoo piece.
The dove is also a primary icon in religious tattoos as a demonstration of love and purity of spirit which also makes it popular as a memorial design choice.
See more about - Moon Tattoo Meaning – What Do Different Moon Tattoo Ideas Symbolize?