The bluebird – like the swallow with which it’s often associated – is a favourite nautical symbol of good luck. As a nautical tattoo design, the bluebird has sometimes been mistaken within popular culture for the swallow, or swift, and the two very different species of birds have quite similar colouring, with bright accents of blue and orange, verging to both red and yellow. In mythology, the bluebird is the universally acknowledged sign of happiness, prosperity, good health, and the arrival of spring. The beautiful blue of its plumage is associated with the sky and eternal happiness. Unlike the swallow, it does not have a ‘dark’ side.
In magical symbology the bluebird represents confidence. And in the Valentine myth, the Bluebird is a ‘man of laughter’ and symbolizes happy love. Because of its benign qualities, it has become a favourite subject in European fairy tales — and song. ‘The Bluebird of Happiness’ became a popular song in the 1940′s.
According to one Native American tribe, the first-born son of the Sun was called Bluebird. Another myth hails the bluebird as the spirit associated with the rising sun. A dead bluebird is associated with loss of innocence and disillusionment.
In Korea, legend has it that the Bluebird flutters around humans and reports back to the gods. ‘A little bird told me,’ could well apply to the bluebird.
Traditionally, the bluebird (or depending upon your belief, the swallow) is tattooed on one side of a sailor’s chest when he can claim 10,000 miles at sea. When he has clocked 20,000 nautical miles, the sailor may apply the bird’s mate to on the other side of his chest. A pair of bluebirds together is a sign of the well-travelled sailor.
Get inspired by some really amazing images and tattoos in our Bluebird Tattoo Gallery