Mythical and endearing, tiny seahorses have captured our imagination for millennia as their incredible ability to survive and thrive in a vast stormy ocean filled with vicious predators is simply miraculous, so it’s no wonder that there are numerous seahorse tattoo meanings.
Seahorse tattoo meanings include associations with the gods of the sea in ancient Greece and Rome, wisdom, and spirituality in China and Europe, respectively. Contemporary meanings include marriage and commitment, strength and power, perseverance, magic, good luck, peace, masculinity, and patience.
While the previously mentioned seahorse tattoo meanings might seem evident, there is much to discover about these uber-adorable, enchanting creatures. So, if you want to choose a seahorse tattoo meaning that is truly special and profoundly resonates with you – read on!
Ancient Cultural Seahorse Tattoo Meanings
Having graced this earth for 13 million years, seahorses have been enchanting ancient cultures since the dawn of time. So, let’s look at their diverse and interesting seahorse meanings.
The Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greeks referred to the seahorse as a “hippocampus,” which describes a horse sea monster.
The seahorse was a sacred water symbol for the ancient Greeks as it was associated with Poseidon, who oversaw the ocean, storms, and earthquakes and represented power and strength.
While ancient Roman cultures also associated seahorses with their ocean god, Neptune, seahorses were seen in a less positive light as sailors would associate them with drowning and avoided going in any direction they frequented.
The Chinese believed that seahorses were symbolic of wisdom, power, and good fortune as they resembled a water dragon in their eyes.
Seahorses were associated with sailors in ancient Europe as it was widely believed at the time that they transported the souls of drowned sailors to the underworld where they could rest in peace.
Eight Seahorse Tattoo Meanings
Seahorses predominantly represent the ocean, and to better understand why they are seen as such mystical creatures and revered by so many, it’s important to consider their genus.
The ancient Greek name for seahorse’s hippocampus is also the name of a region in our brains that stores our long-term memories and is linked to heightened creativity.
Because there is such a profound shared link between water and creative thinking, spiritual gurus and yogis meditate amidst flowing water to heighten their creative thinking processes.
While the true meaning of seahorses can be interpreted in many ways, it also represents achieving a sense of balance, going with the flow, and being persistent even if you are a tiny creature adrift in the vast, scary ocean.
So, here are the 8 top seahorse tattoo meanings.
1. Marriage And Commitment
Seahorses are considered a sacred symbol of marriage and commitment as the males share the responsibility of raising a family by carrying and fertilizing their partner’s eggs until he gives birth to their offspring.
It’s symbolic of the profound loving connection between men and women and the importance of taking accountability for the well-being of your family.
2. Strength and Power
Even though seahorses look fragile, they need to be incredibly strong to survive in the turbulent ocean, especially because they are not great swimmers.
Thus, strength and power are often attributed to seahorses as they can remain stationary by wrapping their delicate tails around sturdy objects, which requires strength to survive as they would otherwise die if carried away by powerful currents.
That is also why sailors value seahorses, as their presence confirms that the ocean is calm and peaceful, and the weather is conducive to travel.
Seahorses are also symbolic of the power of perseverance and not giving up hope even when the odds of accomplishing success are stacked against us, like tiny creatures battling to survive in the stormy ocean.
There is something magical about ancient seahorses, coupled with the fact that these tiny ethereal creatures have managed to enchant tough sailors and ancient scholars alike. Thus, it’s no surprise that for many, their overarching meaning is magic.
Seahorses are also depicted in the media in numerous great works of art to represent unearthly magical qualities, and while the reasons for this association are not entirely clear, it demonstrates the powerful mythical qualities of this endearing little creature.
5. Good Luck
For most sailors, seahorses with good luck symbols when heading towards powerful storms in rough seas. Thus, seahorses are often used in diving club crests to keep their members safe and to promote good luck.
Although large predators could catch seahorses if they are not careful, they are peaceful and friendly little animals who don’t have too many known enemies.
Gregarious by nature, seahorses represent peace and living in harmony with your environment, so it is often chosen as a tattoo design for people who want more peaceful relationships with others.
Male seahorses are part of a robust patriarchal community where they often take care of the most demanding or potentially dangerous tasks to take care of their partners and families.
Apart from carrying and giving birth to their offspring, they are also incredibly dedicated and faithful to their life partners and will continue breeding with them and expanding their family until the very end, even though their absent female partners only visit occasionally to see their babies.
Thus, seahorses are a powerful symbol of masculinity for fathers as they are great role models that symbolize family values and taking accountability for your actions as a man.
Carnivores’ seahorses feed mostly on brine shrimp which can be incredibly difficult to find as they are such poor swimmers and can not move fast enough to catch their prey, so they must be patient until they succeed.
So, if you are naturally impatient, a seahorse tattoo would be a great reminder that patience is a virtue and that “good things take time”.
Ethereal seahorses have been enchanting seafarers since the dawn of time, and seahorse tattoo meanings differ vastly at times; in essence, they symbolize all the noble qualities we mere mortals should aspire to.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):