People are always looking for a tattoo that tells the world about them, but which is not a symbol that you’re going to see every day. Chestnut tattoos definitely offer this option, while providing you with an option that can be colorized, stylized, or presented in a number of other ways and which will be richly meaningful.
Today we’re going to talk about Chestnut tattoos, their history, meanings, and more so that you can learn just how much the humble chestnut can really say. Without further ado, let’s talk chestnuts!
What is the History of Chestnut Tattoos?
Chestnuts have a botanical name of ‘castanea’, as they originally hail from an ancient city in Turkey which was called Castanis. Turkey wasn’t the only place to get them, of course, as this tree is native to most of Asia Minor and as it came with delicious, edible nuts, these trees would quickly spread around the world.
The Romans were quite fond of them and ensured that the chestnut would be planted and thrive in the Cevennes, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, and the Celts believed that these plants would serve as guardian spirits until the New Year for every man, woman, and child – and the forest animals as well!
Aside from the edible nuts, the wood of Chestnut trees was quite useful, and in American Colonial times it was often used for flooring, log cabin foundations, rain ties, telephone poles, and even caskets.
While the Turkish get credit for naming the chestnuts, it’s interesting to know that the ancient Greeks were likely responsible for their spread. As best we can tell, they are the first to introduce the tree to the Mediterranean regions over 3000 years ago. Needless to say, such a useful tree would certainly develop its own lore and symbolism over time.
What Do Chestnut Tattoos Symbolize?
You can plant a chestnut tree and while it will bear nuts within 3 to 5 years, you won’t see any of its yellow flowers blooming until 20 years have passed. As such, Chestnuts represent longevity and the slow blooming of spirituality for some, although there are certainly other meanings associated.
The Celts and many other nature-centric pagans believed that the tree was sacred and that it provided protection, which is certainly understandable when it can feed you and also provide wood for your home, carts, and other useful applications. Nature-pagans were quick to recognize this and to thank the tree for its useful offerings.
Chestnut tattoos can also symbolize regeneration. One of the reasons that chestnuts spread so far and wide across the world is their ability to easily regenerate from cuttings. This meant that transplanting them was a relatively simple task of trimming from one tree and then moving the cutting somewhere to plant, cultivate, and to watch it grow.
Chestnut trees have even found their way into our literature. In Bronte’s ‘Jayne Eyre’, the Chestnut tree shows up first as an omen, and then as a symbol of life itself. As you can see, there’s a whole lot more to Chestnut tattoos than meets the eye and this obscure symbol might be just what you’re looking for!
What Do Chestnut Tattoos Mean?
Chestnut tattoos might be worn by pagan-minded folks for protection or as a symbol of life. Those who practice martial arts and fancy themselves as protectors might also adopt this peaceful, yet ancient symbol as a way to let the world know exactly what type of person they are.
As they take so long to bloom, one might also wear a chestnut tattoo as a way of expressing a late-blooming spirituality or a newfound love of life. Keep in mind that not only do chestnuts nourish, but they make for strong building materials, and this lends them a symbolism of being spiritual, yet practical as well.
Incidentally, Chestnuts also are cooked-up in Japan and eaten with crushed gardenia seeds and this is considered a recipe to financial success and good fortune, so a chestnut tattoo with gardenia seeds might mean that the owner is one who is ambitious and actively cultivating their own success and prosperity.
Finally, chestnut tattoos don’t really have to mean anything. These are beautiful trees, producing bundles of 3 or 4 nuts in a cluster, and their natural beauty is reason enough to incorporate them into a skin-art design. Ultimately, the meaning and reasons for this selection will be entirely up to you!
Characteristics and Styles of Chestnut Tattoos
Chestnut tattoos are most often depicted in a photorealistic fashion, although this is not a rule that is graven in stone. As they are associated with financial success in Japan, then you might choose the Japanese style to depict them served-up with gardenia seeds on a tattoo of your own.
New school tattoo style can allow you to take the natural beauty and ‘twist it up’ a bit, and you also have to decide how much of the tree you will depict. Will it be just a single nut, a cluster, or will the tree also be displayed?
Some with a pagan bent might show a section of the tree, with nuts as well, and Ogham or Runes carved into the bark. It all just depends on what you are trying to say with your own chestnut tattoo. Spend a little time to think about the design and go through a few artist’s portfolios before you settle.
That extra time can often make the difference between a good tattoo and an absolutely amazing one!
Where Do Chestnut Tattoos Usually Go?
Chestnut tattoos may be placed just about anywhere you like, although many people choose to put them somewhere visible, such as an ankle, shoulder, or along the outer arm where trees can be inked cleverly to take advantage of their natural shape.
If you want to depict the whole tree, then a backpiece might be the best way to go, either artfully taking up half of the back so that most of the skin is still elegantly bare or it could serve as a central part of a larger scene if you are looking to ink a masterpiece on your back.
Full color is always best, of course, but chestnuts have been around for a long time, so a black and white depiction will certainly be recognized and can carry just as heavy an impact. Think about what you really want and while it might take a few sessions, it’s a decision that you certainly won’t regret investing your time into!
Some closing comments on Chestnut tattoos
In today’s article we’ve talked about Chestnut tattoos to tell you a little more about the symbolism and meaning behind this obscure, but effective skin art option. Chestnuts represent life and even have protective aspect in some pagan belief systems, making them a powerful and recognizable option for a custom tattoo.
If you like the symbolism behind the chestnut tree and have been looking for something beautiful that you certainly won’t see every day, then Chestnut tattoos might just be the perfect fit for you!