Feather tattoos looks at the origins of these tattoos from Native American, to Egyptian to Zuni, and gives you some feather tattoo design ideas that you might want to use.
The symbolism of feathers refers to lightness, the ability to take flight, supernatural powers and movement from earth to heaven.
In Egyptian mythology a goddess named Ma'at was symbolized wearing a single ostrich feather head dress. This feather was used to weigh against the heart of the recently deceased who would be seeking admittance to the afterlife
Zuni Feather design ideas
Feather symbols are also commonplace among the Zuni. Zuni is an area in New Mexico which has a rich tradition in the making of fetishes. These were often very finely carved and detailed. These carvings were believed by Native Americans to hold a spirit, the power of the spirit could be used for good or evil. Feather tattoos can reflect this Zuni tradition as Zuni used feathers on prayer sticks. These prayer sticks would be stuck on the ground and would carry special requests to the gods.
Native American feather designs, Dreamcatchers and Shields
The Ojibway or Chippewa tribe used feathers in their dreamcatchers. It is loosely based on the tales of how the Spider Woman captures the sunrise and holds it captive in her web. These dreamcatchers are usually circular and said to only allow good dreams through a small hole in the centre of the webbing. Bad dreams are not allowed pass through.
As the first rays on sunlight would land on the dreamcatcher the bad dreams that had been prevented from entering would be destroyed by the sunlight. Traditionally a feather would be placed at the bottom of the circle, in the centre. These feathers are said to symbolize pure air or lightness of being. Dreamcatchers are a very popular tattoo design among native American tattoos.
Feathers were also used in the head dress of the native inhabitants on the North American Prairies. A feather represented a deed of bravery by the wearer
Feathers were also used by these people in what are known as Medicine Shields. Each shield bore attachments that reflected the wearers life and experience. The feathers may represent some wish or experience in itself, or might be a part of a general life and wishes as expressed in the design of the shield.
Feathers also feature prominently in
Aztec Tattoo Art.