Monkey Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Monkey Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Monkeys are natural choices for art – you simply have so many possibilities. After all, everyone has seen a monkey, and these intelligent and playful creatures long ago made their home in our myths and in our hearts.

Today we’ll talk about Monkey tattoos, their history, meanings, and designs, to give you a little taste of the impact that these joyful little creatures have had on us as a whole and what makes them such an amazing tattoo option.

Without further ado, let’s talk about Monkeys and Monkey Tattoos!

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What is the History of Monkey Tattoos?

When it comes to Monkey tattoos, you’ve got an enormous well of historical significance to draw from. For instance, in Indian mythology, Monkey lore dates all the way back to 500 B.C., with an incarnation of Shiva called Hanuman the Monkey. A hero known for strength and loyalty, he is still called upon for intervention to this day.

In Chinese tales, the monkey is even older and actually predates Buddhism, with references going back as far as 1100 years B.C.. In China, the Monkey is part of the ‘Chinese Zodiac’, and even viewed as ‘the Great Sage Equal to Heaven’. There is also Sun-Wukong, the Monkey trickster god, both powerful and exceedingly crafty.

Then you have Japanese monkey lore. Everyone knows the famous 3 monkeys of ‘Speak no evil, hear no evil, and see no evil’, and this famous trio is believed to have come from the Hiei Shrine on Mount Hiei! These famous monkey’s aside, the worship of Monkey came at the same time as Buddhism in Japan.

Believed to ward of demons and to encourage good health and virility, Monkey was a powerful symbol in Japan, and even if we discard the mythos from these 3 example cultures, this animal has always been associated with cleverness, fun, and mischief! You’d be hard put to find such a recognizable symbol with as rich a history as the Monkey.

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What Do Monkey Tattoos Symbolize?

Monkey tattoos can symbolize all kinds of things – it’s going to depend on the depiction and the context. Drawn in a grave and serious way in inks, the monkey might have religious significance, especially if incorporated in a traditional and historical motif.

On the flipside, a monkey drawn simply having fun might be indicative of the playful nature of the wearer.

A monkey playing cymbals is a traditional symbol of horror, so much so that we’ve lost count of the number of movies that tell us something sinister is near by the clap-clap-clapping of cymbals from a monkey toy.

A monkey chasing a banana might symbolize one feeling that life is both desperate and comical, while a monkey climbing a vine steadily might indicate ambition and an optimistic outlook. Monkey tattoos can really mean all kinds of things, because the symbol is so well-known around the world that you just need to add context.

We also can’t forget the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ monkeys, as this artful design is clever enough that it’s something we still see and know to this day. Generally, the symbolism will have to do with cleverness and playfulness, but this symbol is OLD — the meanings are like peeling an onion, exposing new layers.

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What Do Monkey Tattoos Mean?

What your Monkey tattoo means is going to be up to you, so you’ll want to take your time when it comes to creating your design.

 A monkey tattoo might mean that you have a playful and inquisitive soul, though if historical symbols or ancient writing are included, then this can definitely change the meaning.

Since it is closely tied with many cultures and religions, a Monkey tattoo might indicate a spiritual choice of the wearer or even simply be a nod to one’s own ancestry.

Then there are the Monkey tattoos that are simply all about fun. It’s not often that you have a symbol that invokes feelings of fun and playfulness like the Monkey. Children and adults alike can see one, even in silhouette, and it brings a smile to the face and inspires imagination about what the clever beast might be up to.

Monkey tattoos are also quite an excellent option for tricksters – monkeys are famous for this just about anywhere you go. Think a while about it before you settle on a design, as you really have an amazing number of things that you can express with these well-known little tricksters!

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Characteristics and Styles of Monkey Tattoos

Monkey tattoos come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors and are only limited by your imagination. Monkeys may be depicted seriously, such as at a Chinese or Japanese temple and you could use the Japanese tattooing style for the latter to make an amazing piece of skin art.

Monkeys may be depicted in silhouette, and no matter where you go in the world, they will still be recognized. Whether in color or black and white, these animals are so well-known that the impact is sure to be powerful, so just settle on a design that tells the world a little bit about who you are.

….or don’t! Monkeys are fun just for the simple aesthetics of them. These graceful and curved creatures lend well to any art that you are thinking about putting on your skin. In the spirit of the monkey itself, just have fun with it and see what happens. You really can’t go wrong with Monkey tattoos!

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Where Do Monkey Tattoos Usually Go?

You can put Monkey tattoos anywhere you like. Monkeys can be scaling vines on your arms, or throwing bananas on your shoulder, or even gracing a beautiful temple in a piece that takes up most of your back, or just half of it to make it more delicate and graceful.

Once you have come up with the design, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where to place it, but we recommend consulting with your artist.

 A good artist doesn’t simply draw, but they will also know anatomy and years of experience in tattooing means that they can help you to place your tattoo where it will fit the best and have the most impact, all while complimenting your unique body shape.

It’s well-worth taking that extra week to do your homework and the difference when you do this really is like night and day. Just a little food for thought!

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Some closing words on Monkey Tattoos

If you are looking for a symbol that is ancient, world-renowned, and which has so many meanings that you can literally personalize it to say anything, then you could do a whole lot worse than Monkey tattoos. These amazing creatures lend well to aesthetics and provide flexible meanings for any taker.

Give it a little thought and we think that you’ll agree – Monkey tattoos truly are an amazing and unique skin art option!

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