The porcupine is a noble and humble animal. There are two common varieties categorised as the New World and the Old World; American and European.
However, the animal is found all over the world, and there are dozens of species. Some cultures have historically used their spiky quills as tools and decoration.
Others eat them as a staple food source and some have hunted them to concerningly low levels because of misguided beliefs.
But despite being a small animal living among fierce predators, the porcupine has endured throughout history as a symbol of protection on armor, shields and tattoos. Modern interpretations also define the creature as a prophet of life changes.
Here you will learn about:
- The Porcupine in Ancient Culture
- The Symbolism of the Porcupine
- Porcupine Tattoo Ideas
Ancient peoples revered this animal because of its usefulness in arts and crafts and ancient medicine. At the same time, the modern adaptation of symbolism regards it as a vital figure in dreams.
Because of its striking figure and unique features, this large rodent suits many different artistic styles, from simple sketches to bold and exuberant contrasting colours.
The Porcupine in Ancient Culture
Animals have been revered by ancient cultures for thousands of years, from deities and demi-gods with associated powers to simple sources of inspiration.
While the porcupine is small in stature, it is universally respected worldwide because of its willingness to survive, fight and defend itself against much more formidable foes.
China is well-known for its affinity with animals. The Chinese zodiac that first appeared during the Han dynasty over 2000 years ago is still used today.
The zodiac contains 12 animals, each of which represents rotating years. While the animal doesn’t appear in the Chinese calendar, it was revered for the medicinal property of its bezoars, undigested plant content.
The New World
Native Americans revere all animals and have consistently demonstrated a connection to nature. While they regard the New World porcupine as a minor animal, it has played a prominent role in Native American crafts for centuries.
The animal’s quills are sewn into projects and used for decoration on a wide range of accessories like bags, knife sheaths and baskets.
The Symbolism of the Porcupine
As with many animals, ancient peoples associated power and abilities with the symbol of the porcupine. As such, animals were often used to adorn shields, weapons, flags and fortifications.
In addition, ancient peoples often embodied the spirit of animals by tattooing them onto physiques, a tradition that continues to this day.
Throughout history, all cultures have interpreted dreams as messages, and the imagery of this creature is no different as it plays a prominent role in modern dream divination.
What the Ancients Believed
The porcupine is a versatile animal. Its relatively small stature belies a fierce defence mechanism. While it is a myth that they shoot their quills, they are no less an efficient form of protection.
Because of this, to ancient people such as the Chinese, the porcupine represents and symbolises shielding, defence and protection.
To some Native American tribes, it also embodies humility and modesty and is consequently believed to be a conduit to the spirit world.
Messages from the Ether
Porcupines are also a potent symbol associated with the dream world. While any dream is open to personal interpretation, there are some common beliefs concerning the symbology of this rodent when dreamed about.
The animal is often associated with an upcoming obstacle in life. Primarily, superficial issues like slander, a quarrel or a falling out with a friend.
But it has been noted that the appearance of porcupines might also symbolise a minor bout of good luck.
Your Power Animal
Ancient and contemporary cultures alike believe in the power of animals and how we attach to that power in a purely spiritual and cosmic way, outside the realm of natural science.
For example, it is widely believed that the porcupine can attach itself as a powerful animal. In times of need or angst, the animal is there to offer energy and protection.
It is also believed that it can help simplify your life when things get a little out of hand. Or if you need to clear your mind and elevate your mood.
Porcupine Tattoo Ideas
The porcupine is a common idea as a tattoo because of its natural cuteness, aggressive yet passively playful nature, and association with protection and energy.
Yet, the many facets of its personality cannot be measured or indeed demonstrated by one artistic tattoo style alone. Therefore, it is necessary to apply a chosen style to accentuate and highlight which side of the animal you want.
The Minimalist Tattoo Style
You could decide upon the minimalist style for the cute approach that aims to strike a balance between playfulness and simplicity.
Using subtly shaded outline stencils, these creatures can be drawn rather lifelike. And because of their distinctive shape, a rodent with spikes, they are instantly recognisable and striking to the eye.
This gives the tattoo artist plenty of freedom to experiment with how the spikes should be represented compared to the softer features.
In stark contrast, you could opt for detailed tattoo sketching that aims to bring out the real and natural beauty of the creature. Wild and free among plains, trees and grasslands, yet ready to defend itself at a second’s notice.
This large rodent has numerous features that will benefit from a more detailed, larger illustration. Some of which might be missed as your attention is immediately drawn to its quills.
Bold Use of Color in Animal Tattoos
Porcupines themselves come in varying colours that are as numerous as the habitats in which they are commonly found. For example, The Philippine species is jet black yet lives among vivid grasslands.
Yet, the North American species come in various browns, from light sand to dark wood-looking. But they live amongst forestry, savannahs and wetlands.
The appropriate use of varying degrees of colour will impose a striking image – perhaps jet black against an orange sunset.
The porcupine is revered throughout history, right through to today. Its unique appearance, cute yet powerful, means it sits prominently next to other popular animals like the meerkat and the lemur.
Ancient people used the quills as a tool, and it is still used as a food source today. In addition, the animal is revered for its defence capabilities and playful nature, representing the dichotomy of evolution vs extinction.
The striking profile of this giant rodent lends itself well to artistic expression, and there are multiple suave methods of tattoo.
Minimalists will show the lighter side of the creature while detailed sketching will capture the rugged animalistic nature.
Both of these can be highlighted with vivid and bold tattoo colours associated with varying species of porcupine and their environment.