Throughout the years of sailors and tattooing, there have been a number of different images that have significant meaning for those who worked as a sailor. Many of these images were symbolic of different ideas that a sailor might have, and, in many cases, these symbols were used to give the sailor good luck while out on the seas.
We are sure you have seen many variations of these tattoos including things like swallows, ships, anchors and lighthouses, but today we are going to dive into a unique and different sailor image.
The pig and rooster tattoo is very significant to those who ride the high seas for a living. For the sailors, these tattoos are images that will help them while out at sea. Whether it is to provide good luck or to remind them of something, these tattoos are powerful messages and have been around forever. They started being tattooed by Sailor Jerry and his style of tattooing in American tradition for the men of the seas became just as famous as the images he tattooed.
In this post, we are going to talk specifically about the pig and rooster tattoo and talk about why it was so valuable for the people who wore it. For the most part, you will see these two animals tattooed together for a specific symbolism. Outside of the sailor tattoo of the pig and rooster, you wouldn’t usually see these two pictured together, so we hope that by the time you are done reading this, you have a better understanding of why it was deemed such an important symbol for these men.
Sailor tattoos are generally worn by sailors, however, the popularity of this kind of tattooing has spread into pop culture and you are just as likely to see the guy walking down the street with one of these classic images tattooed on their body as you would be seeing them on the body of a sailor. These tattoos were considered “old school” by many who get them, and you were likely to see many images that had nautical significance like boats, mermaids, anchors and other meaningful images.
Many of these come from Sailor Jerry designs. Sailor Jerry was born Norman Collins and he was well known for tattooing sailors. He really gained notoriety in the red light district of Honolulu, Hawaii. In many cases, he would catch sailors before they were shipped off.
Pig and Rooster Tattoo Meaning
One of the images that became popular among sailors was the pig and rooster tattoo. You might not think these two animals have any connection to the sea and you would be right. This is actually why they are tattooed. The idea was to keep a sailor from drowning and there are two popular explanations as to why these images got this meaning.
First, the idea to get a pig and rooster tattoo was because neither of these animals can swim. If a ship went down, the pig and rooster would either rush back to shore or be spotted by God as not belonging in the water and he would scoop up these animals and whatever was attached to them and put them on dry ground.
The other explanation is said to revolve around how these ships would carry roosters and pigs on their ships in wooden crates. Apparently, pigs and roosters tended to survive during a shipwreck and because of this, the sailors would get their images tattooed, many times on the feet, to provide them luck at sea.
Keeping these explanations in mind, we do know the pig and rooster tattoo meaning is symbolic of good luck on the ocean and symbol of keeping a sailor from drowning. Many people get this tattoo to pay homage to sailors of the past or because it looks cool.
Pig and Rooster Tattoo Variations
Because the pig and rooster tattoo has a very specific meaning, you might not see a lot of variation when you spot this tattoo. However, you could see the tattoo in different styles or with words added to reinforce the message. Below are a couple of examples of the ways we have seen this tattoo inked and their explanation.
Traditional Pig and Rooster Tattoo
The traditional pig and rooster tattoo is the most common version of this tattoo that you will see. Sailor Jerry had the American traditional style and it was the go-to way to get this tattoo done so it only makes sense to get this done in the style it started in.
Realism Pig and Rooster Tattoo
However, people love to get creative with their tattoos and they should. The tattoo is a method of self-expression and just because things have been done a certain way for many years doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. When done right, the realism tattoo can catch your eye and put you in awe of the work. It is just another method of tattooing that would look great with the pig and rooster tattoo.
Sink or Swim Pig and Rooster Tattoo
We have often seen the phrase, “sink or swim”, written somewhere around the pig and rooster tattoo as a way to reinforce the idea. Someone with this written into the tattoo might also be referring to life in general. You can either sink or swim and it is up to you what you will do. However, the rooster and pig don’t like to swim or drown so will assume this is symbolic of your will to push through tough obstacles in life.
As we have said in many of our posts explaining the meaning behind a tattoo, the symbolism is up to you. Nobody can tell you what your tattoo means to you because you are the one that got it and it is important to you in a specific way.
The key is to find an artist who can help you make your vision come to life by tattooing it the way you like and helping you along the way however you need it. If you are still looking for an artist to tattoo your ideas, let us know and we will help you find one.