Okapi Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Okapi Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Tattoos that depict animals are a popular choice for those who enjoy inking their bodies. They are often chosen to commemorate a lost pet, or simply to represent a specific quality that an animal represents or symbolizes. And while many people choose to tattoo themselves with common animals, others are drawn to more exotic animals for their ink.

If you’re looking for a stunning, unique tattoo that represents magic, mystery, and symbolizes uniqueness, then a design that incorporates the elusive Okapi could be for you!

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What is the History of Okapi Tattoos?

The first evidence of tattoos can be traced back to roughly 3250 BCE. For the Austronesians, who performed their patterned tattoos as a form of ritual, the practice was widespread. But the choice of tattooing animal figures on the body seems to have become popular mostly around the time when explorers started discovering the unknown parts of the wilderness where beautiful, yet savage predators roamed.

Animal tattoos also seemed to be extremely popular in Ancient Egypt, where people often inked themselves with images of snakes and cows. And when Great Britain started sending explorers into India and Africa, they came back with stories of big cats terrorizing the landscape. Suddenly tattoos of black panthers, lions, and tigers became prevalent in Victorian society.

Today many people choose to ink themselves with imagery of animals of all kinds. Sometimes people choose to get portraits of their beloved domesticated pets, such as cats, dogs, or even birds. People who are involved with farming or equestrian sports may choose a tattoo of a horse.

Tattoos of big cats are popular and can be chosen to represent a specific attribute such as bravery, courage, or overcoming adversity.

The Okapi is a solitary, elusive creature with stripes on the hind end that has been surviving in the wild for centuries, making it a great choice for a tattoo that represents uniqueness, mystery, and magic.

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What Do Okapi Tattoos Symbolize?

The Okapi is native to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in central Africa. Despite being one of the oldest existing species, the western world wouldn’t spot one with their own eyes until the twentieth century. But the natives of the region knew of this elusive and gentle creature, with depictions of Okapi being found as early as the 5th century BCE.

The Okapi looks much like a zebra mixed with an antelope. They have brown or reddish coats on top, but their legs and hind end share the characteristic black and white stripes that many associate with zebras. Despite this, the Okapi is closely related to the giraffe, and the two are the only living species of their type.

The Okapi has a very long tongue which they use to forage leaves and flowers from the foliage. The males have short horn-like protuberances on their foreheads called ossicones, a feature they share with giraffes.

But what makes the Okapi so unique is one of the reasons they have been given the moniker “the African unicorn.”

The Okapi is a solitary creature, well adapted to hiding in the thick forest areas of their region, and their stripes and coat provide them with amazing camouflage. This means that although western travelers heard rumors of this native beast from the locals, they didn’t spot one in the wild for a long time.

The Okapi is good at hiding and doesn’t like to show themselves, lending to the air of mystery and magic surrounding them.

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What Do Okapi Tattoos Mean?

Because Okapi have been dubbed as “unicorns,” choosing to get a tattoo that features this someone rare creature usually represents magic, mystery, and uniqueness.

They are also powerful symbols of fertility and may represent the ability to camouflage oneself for survival purposes.

Each Okapi has a unique striped pattern, making them a great symbol of individuality and uniqueness.

Here are some common meanings of Okapi tattoos:

  • Magic
  • Mystery
  • Uniqueness
  • Strangeness
  • Creativity
  • Solitary Existence
  • Fertility
  • Abundance
  • Ancient Wisdom
  • Camouflage
  • Protection
  • Opposites
  • Opposing Forces
  • Individuality
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Characteristics and Styles of Okapi Tattoos

There are lots of different design ideas that can be incorporated into an Okapi tattoo. They can range from simplistic in style, emphasizing the black and white stripes that Okapi are known for. Or for more daring tattoo enthusiasts, can be much larger and more complex. You could even incorporate other animals or a backdrop of jungle foliage to pay homage to their Okapi’s native land.

  • Okapi From Behind

One of the most popular designs for Okapi tattoos has the animal positioned with the rear-facing the front and the head turned to look over one shoulder. This is because it draws attention to the Okapi’s unique striped coat, which is much more prominent on the back and lower half of the body.

  • Okapi With Tongue Out

Another popular representation of Okapis has their head turned to one side with the tongue sticking out and clearly visible. Okapis have very long tongues developed to help them forage through the dense jungle. It is one of their most defining features.

And this tattoo design can be used to identify an Okapi by showing their ossicones (if it’s a male).

  • Black And White Design

Because the Okapi’s defining feature is the black and white stripes of its coat, a black and white design is a perfect idea for a tattoo design. Black and grey tattoos with the negative space left to represent the white stripes would also look stunning and make the Okapi’s unique zebra-like coat stand out.

  • Okapi Head Portrait

If you’re looking for a smaller tattoo design, you might choose to ink just the Okapi’s head instead of the whole body. Often portrait-style tattoos of Okapi are chosen with a single leg, or just the front legs, incorporated into the design so that the stripes are still visible.

  • Okapi With Foliage or Flowers

Flowers always make a great addition to any tattoo and can be used to add another layer of symbolism by choosing flowers that have a specific meaning. Or, because the Okapi is native to the tropical jungles of the Congo, you could choose to add some jungle foliage or leaves to the design.

  • Okapi With Added Designs

A tattoo that incorporates geometric designs, Polynesian-style artwork, or mandala-type patterns inside the body of the Okapi can take a regular animal-style tattoo and elevate it to the next level. Or you could choose to add some color to the tattoo by changing up the typical colors of the Okapi and switching them for colors that are brighter and more eye-catching.

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Where Do Okapi Tattoos Usually Go?

Okapi tattoos can look spectacular in many places on the body. Because most Okapi tattoos are slightly larger, popular location choices would be the upper arms, forearms, shoulders, or legs. The back and shoulders are also a prime spot for an Okapi tattoo because there’s a lot of open space, allowing for a large and stunning design.

For Women:

  • Forearms
  • Upper Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Upper Back
  • Stomach

For Men:

  • Upper Arms
  • Upper Back
  • Calf
  • Thigh
  • Upper Arm
  • Shoulder
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People who choose to get an Okapi tattoo usually do so because they have a love for magic and mystery. The Okapi is a noble, gentle creature that managed to survive in the jungles for centuries before being discovered by the western world.

Their unique coat and stunning black and white stripes make them a great choice for anyone wanting to represent their own creativity, individuality, and uniqueness.

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