As far as birds go, few are as distinctive and rife with symbolism as the majestic peacock. With a cerulean blue body and tail feathers that array in a magnificent fan, it’s no wonder why the peacock has been the subject of art for centuries.
Body art is no exception to the peacock craze. Peacock tattoos are diverse in design and style, and tattoos range from the feathers themselves to the glory of the entire bird. Tattoos can feature a peacock by itself, or alongside other objects such as stars, ribbons, music notes, and more.
In this article, we will look more closely at the symbolism of the peacock, what it means, and the different styles of the peacock tattoo.
What is the History of Peacock Tattoos?
The peacock has long been hailed as a symbol of royalty and nobility, largely due to its confidence and regal appearance. In the Middle Ages, peacock was a delicacy in the royal courts. Not for the taste – as peacock meat is notoriously oily, though can taste similar to chicken or turkey if prepared correctly – but for the status symbol.
Peacocks are native to the Indian subcontinent, but people have since introduced them all over the world. In the 17th century, the famed Peacock Throne was sculpted for San Jahan and featured two peacocks sculpted from gold and gemstones.
While the Persians later stole the Peacock Throne, future Indian thrones featured peacocks.
Significance of the Peacock in Greek Mythology
To the ancient Greeks, the peacock was a symbol of the goddess Hera, wife to Zeus. The jealous Hera desired to create an animal who could always keep eyes on Zeus and his exploits down on earth, so she made the peacock, with distinctive eye-shaped spots on each of its feathers that resemble eyes.
Hera was so pleased with her creation that she chose the creature to pull her chariot. This can be seen in ancient Greek art in depictions of the goddess Hera.
Significance of the Peacock in Hinduism
Since peacocks are native to India, it comes as no surprise that the peacock would have a place in Hinduism. Peacocks are seen to represent the mortal forms of gods and goddesses on earth.
The Mayura, which is Sanskrit for peacock, is depicted in Hindu texts as being the chosen mount of the god Vishnu.
The peacock also symbolizes the goddess Lakshmi, which is the goddess of luck, beauty, and prosperity.
Due to its rich significance in Indian culture, the peacock was adopted in 1963 as the national bird of India.
Significance of the Peacock in Chinese Mythology
In Chinese culture, the peacock is a symbol of fortune, fame, and good luck. The unusual “eyes” on the peacock’s feathers contribute to this, as they symbolize awareness and protection. It’s no surprise why the peacock symbolizes protection, as the eye-shaped spots on its feathers are a natural adaptation the peacock uses to fool would-be predators.
In Feng Shui, the peacock represents material wealth and prosperity, and it is lucky to have art depicting peacocks or even peacock feathers located somewhere in the home.
Significance of the Peacock in Christian Symbolism
The many “eyes” in the peacock feathers are often seen as a representation of the all-seeing eyes of God. The peacock is also associated with Christ’s resurrection because of the way peacocks shed their feathers and regrow them each year.
What Do Peacock Tattoos Symbolize?
While peacock symbolism differs depending on the culture, they are almost universally associated with strength, confidence, power, and divinity – attributes that leave no doubt as to why so many monarchs throughout history chose the peacock to personify royalty.
While Eastern cultures attribute more spiritual meanings to the peacock, the bird is seen as a more sexual symbol in Western cultures. As peacocks fan their magnificent tail feathers in their quest to impress a mate, it is easy to make this connection.
What Do Peacock Tattoos Mean?
Contemporary peacock symbolism not only includes the attributes that have made the bird so attractive to monarchies, but also glamor, extravagance, sexuality, love, happiness, luck, beauty, confidence, and excess. Even just the feathers are iconic, as no other bird in nature has feathers that even remotely resemble that of the peacock.
In behavioral psychology, the peacock is associated with extraversion and outgoing personalities, so it isn’t difficult to see extroverted people donning peacock tattoos as symbols of their personalities.
On the flip side, peacocks also symbolize vanity, pride, excess, and ego due to their appearance and characteristic strut. The expression “proud as a peacock” is a discouraging reminder of how this bird is associated with vanity and superficiality.
The peacock’s connection with the Greek goddess Hera helps to solidify the symbolism of vanity, pride, and ego, as Hera was notorious for her jealousy. In many Greek myths, she severely punished both the mistresses and the illegitimate children of her husband, the Greek god Zeus. In other stories, she punishes human women she sees as more beautiful than her, regardless of whether Zeus had any interest in them.
In the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, the peacock is a symbol of bad luck, the eye-shaped spots being associated with the “evil eye” – a bringer of malady and ill fortune.
Characteristics and Styles of Peacock Tattoos
While peacock tattoos come in a variety of styles and designs, the outgoing symbolism and extravagant nature of the peacock is best suited with bold colors and designs.
- A peacock tattoo may portray either the whole bird, the bird’s portrait, or just the feathers.
- Beads, flowers, and names are commonly seen in peacock designs.
- While the styles are endless, many popular ones are tribal, realistic, geometric, watercolor, etc.
- Complementary colors help bring out the rich blues and greens of the peacock’s plumage, such as oranges and yellows, which will help the most in making the colors pop. Complementary colors can be used in the background, or even in the edges or tips of the feathers to add extra dimension to the rose.
Where Do Peacock Tattoos Usually Go?
Peacock tattoos can go anywhere. If you want to show off your tattoo, placement on the arms, legs, hands, shoulders, chest, and neck are the best options. Smaller peacock tattoos or peacock feathers can often be seen behind someone’s ear or on a wrist, ankle, hand, or foot.