Meanings of sailor tattoos..
- A black pearl earring for survivors of a sinking ship .
- Golden earrings were used as a means of ensuring they were buried properly should they die at sea or in a foreign port.
- In modern times a brass earring denoted a survivor of a ship sinking.
- One left ear piercing for crossing each of the Equator, Artic Circle, and Antarctic Circle.
- Earrings were thought to keep spirits from entering through the ear, but that's not a purely sailor thing.
- A sparrow for every 5000 thousand nautical miles traveled,.
- A sailor would get a swallow tattoo for every 5000 miles he had sailed.
- A swallow because it will always find its way home.
- A rooster and pig on the ankles are to prevent a sailor from drowning.
- The pig and the rooster are tattooed on either the calves or the top of the feet, to prevent a sailor from drowning,. These animals were originally carried on most ships in wooden crates. When a ship goes down these crates would float and then catch currents and wash ashore with the other debris from the ship, making the pigs and roosters often the only souls to survive a shipwreck.
- A tattoo of a pig on the left knee and a rooster (cock) on the right foot signified
"Pig on the knee, safety at sea. A cock on the right, never lose a fight."
- Tattoos of pigs and chickens were to make sure they always had their ham and eggs so that they never go hungry.
- A turtle standing on its back legs (shellback) for crossing the equator and being initiated into King Neptune�s Court.
- A tattoo of King Neptune if you crossed the Equator.
- Crossed anchors on the web between the thumb and index finger for a bosn's mate.
- Royal Navy tattoos of palm trees for the Mediterranean cruises in WWII.
- Many US sailors have a palm tree or hula girl from Hawaii.
- The words HOLD and FAST were tattooed on the knuckles to help hold line.
- Hold Fast across the knuckles to keep them from falling overboard or dropping a line.
- Anchor tattoo for sailing the Atlantic.
- Full rigged ship for sailing around Cape Horn.
- Dragon for crossing the international date line or serving in China.
- Rope around the wrist for being a dockhand.
- Two stars to ensure always knowing the way.
- The anchor usually noted that the sailor was in the merchant marine.
- Guns or crossed cannon for military naval service.
- Harpoons for the fishing fleet.
- Crosses on the soles of one's feet to ward off hungry sharks.
- A nautical star, or compass rose was to always find your way home.
- A dagger through a rose signified a willingness to fight and kill even something as fragile as a rose.
- Many sailors also got pornographic images so that they would always have them with them.