Traditionally the owl represents wisdom and knowledge, dating back to Greek Antiquity and Biblical times.
Their prodigious, unblinking eyesight, sharp beak, and nocturnal nature helps the owl’s popularity for being brought to life by small tattoo.
While sometimes seen as an omen of death, small owl body art runs the gamut from grim darkness, to photo realism, and even cartoon cuteness in design.
The following top 51 small owl tattoo ideas will give you a glimpse of the bird’s versatility and provide you with inspiration for planning your next tattoo choice.
1. Small Owl Back Tattoo Designs
2. Ankle and Lower Leg Small Owl Tattoo Ideas
3. Black and Gray Small Owl Tattoo Art
4. Colorful Small Owl Tattoos
5. Small Owl Tattoos on the Forearm
6. Realistic Small Owl Tattoo Ideas
7. Small Owl Shoulder Body Art
8. Upper Arm Small Owl Tattoos
Small Owl Tattoo FAQs
What does a small owl tattoo symbolize?
The owl symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. In Greek mythology the owl was linked to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and strategy. An owl sat on Athena’s blind side to protect the goddess so that she could always see the truth. Owls were also mentioned in the Christian Bible as symbols of intelligence.
Where should I place my small owl tattoo?
Owls are versatile in style of tattoo and in positioning. They are popular in traditional placements, such as the back, shoulder, arm, chest and lower leg.
The increase in visible tattoo depictions over the past twenty years mean that areas once considered risky are being utilized for small tattoos. The neck, hands, wrist, ankle and foot, and the ribcage and side are growing in popularity as they can remain uncovered or be hidden effectively.
Why are owls popular small tattoo designs?
Some of the mannerisms that make owls a popular small tattoo motif includes:
- Different types of owls make interesting contrasts in application ideas such as the barn owl, snowy owl, or even the tawny frog mouth
- With the ability to turn their heads up to 270 degrees, they can quite literally see in almost every direction without moving their body an inch
- Their soft feathers and fringes muffle sound to near silence but are great for use in tattoo due to the different texture, linework, and shading possibilities
- Owls eyes are large, glowing orbs that can be brought to life by a talented tattoo artist looking to convey a range of meanings with the creature’s look
- Owls are versatile – they can be captured via realism, in cartoon/cute mode, or even as staples of American Traditional and Neo traditional tattoo styles
Are owls considered bad luck?
In tribal cultures owls are linked with death. They could be considered an omen of oncoming loss of life.
In the East they are considered good, protective Feng Shui. Owls are popular in the world of tattoo as a motif linked to wisdom and intelligence or to reflect the acquisition of knowledge or skills.
With the ability to see in the darkness, owls represent the idea of seeing beyond illusion, masks and deception, or to showcase the power of seeing someone’s true state of mind while uncovering all the dark, hidden secrets.
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