Bear Tattoo Ideas

Bear Tattoo IdeasBear Tattoo Ideas

Bears have been feared and revered throughout human history. They have been associated with ferocity, wisdom, hunting ability and the cycles of life and death by different peoples across the globe. Bear tattoos come in many iterations, reflecting the complex and often contradictory feelings human beings have about bears.

In art, bears are often depicted in two drastically different ways; either as kind and endearing, or fierce and vicious. Bear tattoos show both ends of the spectrum and everything in-between. The image of a bear has a variety of symbolism that show this contrast; wisdom and ingenuity, as well as brute strength and a ferocity of spirit.

Some of the most popular designs for bear tattoos come straight from Native American art. The Zuni bear is a great example of this; it is seen as a healer and a guardian of the Earth. These bears are shown in profile, always have a well defined slump to its back, and a rounded ear and muzzle. They can either be in simple colors of turquoise, red, blue and yellow, or they may have a variety of patterns. These patterns may have detailed geometric puzzle-work, or may simply feature symbols such as arrows, lightning bolts, and occasionally even feathers.

In Japanese lore the bears and therefore bear tattoo symbolism represents wisdom, stoicism, patience, strength and benevolence. The bear was a sacred oracle to Ainu, who are an indigenous tribe of Japan. These people were animists, (similar to other aboriginal people like Native American Indians of North America) and so their perspective of bear symbolism is a valid one. Further, these people adopted ritualistic tattooing.

In Celtic symbolism, the bear is considered for her lunar power. To the ancient Celtic mind the bear is associated with the moon, and thus carries a feminine theme with concepts such as: childbearing, mothering, and fiercly protective of family and young. The bear is associated with the Celtic goddess, Artio. Indeed, there is evidence of a powerful bear cult in which ancient Celts convened to honor and worship this magnificent creature. Interestingly, and in spite of it’s nurturing connotations the bear is also a symbol for warriors and military to the Celts.