Claw TattooBlack & Grey / Other Tattoos
Lion Foot Scratch / Claw Tattoo
Deciding on a claw tattoo design can be tricky – there are so many to choose from! Much of the symbolism of this tattoo will derive from the animal whose claws you’re representing. From bear to dragon to panther, these animals all have intense symbolic meanings that stretch across time and cultures around the world.
The bear claw is one of the most prominent claw tattoo designs – but no, this tattoo isn’t of a delicious breakfast pastry! Native American cultures have long revered the bear for its strength, power, and warrior-like nature, and the bear is a popular totem animal among many Native Americans. The bear is free in spirit, but this trait can also be coupled with unpredictability. As the saying goes: don’t poke the bear! The bear also has a gentle, maternal nature: mother bears will protect their cubs with ferocity, making the bear a symbol of protective parents.
Eagles also serve as important creatures in Native American cultures, where they represented the physical manifestation of the great Thunderbird spirit. This spirit could shoot bolts of lightning from the eyes of the bald eagle, and a flap of its wings would bring powerful rainstorms. This connection to nature is an important quality of the eagle, making an eagle claw tattoo a great choice for someone who cares deeply for nature and its creatures. In popular American culture, the eagle is also a national symbol, making eagle claws a great tattoo choice for any patriotic American; indeed, it is particularly popular among current and former servicemen and women.
Dragons are one of the most prominent mythological creatures, and their symbolism abounds in both ancient and modern culture. Though tattoos are often gender-neutral in their meaning, the dragon is one exception. On women, dragons can represent how woman is the ultimate creator of life, as well as the immense power that is underneath the surface of her outward reserve and gentle appearance. On men, a dragon tattoo can represent a combination of wisdom and power: they are both revered and feared. Dragons also have appeared in mythologies from around the world. For instance, in various folklores from Europe, dragons were the ultimate foe of brave knights, who had to slay this beast in order to rescue a princess, save a kingdom, or to finish a quest. In many Asian cultures, the dragon is a water animal that symbolizes meditation and the subconscious.
While wolves themselves are becoming more mainstream tattoos, do something different by having just its claws tattooed on your body. The symbolism of wolves is recognized the world over: they are strong, intelligent creatures that hunt best when in packs. This independent, yet social creature is closely related to the dog that many of us love as pets, and can therefore represent how close we ourselves are to the wild. Within ancient cultures, the wolf was an especially potent symbol in ancient Rome, whose founders, Romulus and Remus, were raised by a she-wolf. In Celtic symbolism, the wolf is closely connected to lunar power, as Celtic mythology contends that every evening the wolf would hunt down and devour the sun in order to let the power of the moon to shine through.
Another great animal claw tattoo is that of the panther. This graceful yet ferocious creature is especially prominent in the cultures and mythologies of Central and South America. In many of these cultures, the panther was considered to be a familiar animal to the Shamans, and as a totem animal the panther was symbolic of the nobility and authority of the royal families. The panther’s complex and intricate body, consisting of over 500 voluntary muscles, also makes this animal a great personal symbol for anyone who is dedicated to health, fitness, or simply keeping their mind and body in perfect harmony.
The Meanings of Claw Tattoos
The meaning of your claw tattoo will depend on the animal whose claws you represent. In general, the animals and claws mentioned above can represent the following, though this list is by no means exhaustive: Strength, Resistance, Ferocity, Maternal/paternal instinct, Power, Creation, Knowledge and intelligence, Quest/journey, Connection to nature, Pack member, Gracefulness, Nobility, Mind-body connectivity
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