Kraken Tattoo Meaning, Design & Ideas

Nordic folklore talks of a giant squid or octopus-like creature that is said to torment the cold oceans of the North Sea.

They are said to attack passing vessels with gigantic tentacles, wrapping the boat with ease and pulling it into the abyss. Sailors would then drown and be eaten by the beast. It is said that multiple people claimed to have spotted this mythical creature and there happens to be many examples that are hard to argue.

The legend of this mythical creature has led to many people going to their local tattoo shop and asking the artist to give them a Kraken tattoo. This squid-like monster of the North Sea has been the terror of children and sailors alike since the 1800s and there are some pretty cool stories and facts behind the myth. Now stories of huge creatures with teeth, many arms, multiple heads and scales have existed for years, but the Kraken is truly a unique example of monster mythology.

The Kraken’s Origins

In 1180, King Svetta of Norway had a written account of the beast. In the case of many legends, the Kraken probably originated because of a Giant Squid sighting. Back then, any run-in with an unknown animal could be embellished by sailors’ tales and a Giant Squid would qualify as an unknown and terrifying animal.

It is more likely to be embellished when you’re talking about a giant squid-like animal attacking boats and sailors alike. There have even been sitings as recently as 2003 when a French sailing yacht was attacked by one.

On the other hand, giant squid aren’t likely to surface so others claim that volcanic activity is a better reason for these so-called sightings. Volcanic activity can create bubbles and dangerous currents which can easily be misconstrued as a giant sea monster in the deep seas of Norway.

The Origin of The Kraken Developed

As the legend gained steam, The Kraken myth grew by word of mouth and many stories speak of the Kraken but sometimes there are tales that reference numerous giant cephalopods. Sailors worried about Krakens creating whirlpools in the water that could take down a vessel.

Norwegian natural history books even claim that sailors would foresee a Kraken’s approach with fleeing sea life and they apparently also used Kracken feces to attract fish but the Kraken itself would appear and eat the fish. How they even discovered Kraken feces, no one knows. To add to this, because of its utter size, the Kraken is now sometimes said to have magical powers.

Scientists Believed It Existed

Before the 1870s, scientific opinion thought of these creatures as nothing more than ludicrous legends on par with sea serpents or mermaids. Notwithstanding, the investigation into the presence of the fabled Kraken was happening as early as the 1840s. Ultimately, the Kraken saga grew so robust that it could be found in Europe’s first modern scientific surveys of the natural world in the 18th century such as the first edition of the original Systema Naturae.

It was Believed To Sink Ships

Other zoologists like Pierre Denys de Montfort studied giant cephalopods in the 1700s after hearing stories from sea captains and citing ship disappearances and old pieces of artwork as an indication these creatures existed. In 1782, ten ships went missing and de Montfort claimed the Kraken was to blame. However, his reputation was ruined when the boats were found to have been lost in a hurricane.

Other Sea Monsters

Krakens aren’t the only large creatures inhabiting the sea in mythology. Even intellectuals like Aristotle have written about similar beasts. Stories of similar squid-like monsters have made their way worldwide over the years. An example of this is the Iku-Turso which originated in Finland.

Google Earth

Some even thought they had spotted the Kraken on Google Earth. The Google ruler showed this object as being 30 meters long from end to end but one end looked to end at the middle of a large body, so the thinking was this creature could have been over 60 meters long. It was spotted on April 9, 2016. However, after looking into this further what had been spotted was a giant rock.


The Kraken’s popularity has really taken off in recent years. From being used to name a brand of rum to being used in movies and commercials like Pirates of the Caribbean or a Geiko commercial. When looking at the sheer size of this beast, it’s not a surprise that people would be in awe. It’s strong enough to take down a giant ship and also hides in the dark cold depths of the ocean.

The Kraken tattoo could represent many things depending on the person wearing it. Most would think it’s a sign of power and fear. Maybe the person being tattooed feels like they are strong and terrifying, or it might possibly represent the unknown.

People also get the Kraken tattooed in different ways and places on their bodies. Most notably, the Kraken is tattooed as emerging from the sea wrapping its tentacles around an unsuspecting ship. Sailors are screaming in terror while the Kraken is pulling the boat under. Another way the Kraken is depicted on the human body is with the tentacles spreading out, showing its vastness.

No matter how you might wear the Kraken tattoo, it’ll be a sign of wonder and strength. Whether you are having this beast tattooed to cover your whole back or as part of a nautical-themed sleeve, it will draw the eyes of any passerby.

Below we have posted different pictures of Kraken tattoos to take a look at. We hope that by reading this article and looking through all the different examples of the Kraken tattoos, you’ll be able to get a little closer to deciding what and where you want this tattoo to be placed. If you’re having trouble deciding, shoot us a message and ask. We love helping our visitors find the right artist and shop to make their dream of a beautiful tattoo come true.

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