Whale Tail Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Whale Tail Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

While they are a bit minimalist as designs go, there is nothing small about the significance and beauty of Whale tail tattoos. Like the animal itself, they can express messages which seem larger than life and part of the attracting is the aesthetic simplicity of this design.

If you’ve seen a Whale tail tattoo and didn’t know what it meant, then today is your lucky day. In the sections below we’re going to talk about the history of Whale tail tattoos, as well as their rich symbolism, personal meanings, and more.

When you see a whale tail, you know for certain that there’s much more to it in the deep waters below, and these tattoos mirror this feeling exactly. Read on and we’ll tell you why!


What is the History of Whale Tail Tattoos?

Whale tail tattoos have been around for a space and likely gained prominence in the Māori culture. The Maiois are New Zealand’s indigenous Polynesian population and they came to New Zealand around the 1300s. To them, the Whale is considered to be a symbol of abundance and power, and the Whale’s mighty tail is what powers it!

You’ll see tribal Whale tail tattoos that trace their origins directly to the Māori, though anyone who love whales or sea culture should consider wearing one on their skin.

The shape and the simplicity of the design have a unique appeal all their own and the symbolism is certainly even older than the Māori – as many cultures around the world know and revere the powerful and beautiful whale.


What Do Whale Tail Tattoos Symbolize?

Typically, the whale is a symbol of gentle, but overwhelming power. These friendly creatures keep to themselves, but once riled it is good to remember that they have the capability to sink a ship if they really want to.

Thus, Whale tail tattoos make a good fit for a personality that has a lot of strength and doesn’t feel the need to advertise it.

Aside from strength, the ‘flukes’ (the proper biological term for a whale’s tail) also represent unfettered freedom. Other creatures of the sea tend to leave whales alone, so they pretty much do as they like.

Finally, where there is a whale, there is an ocean, and this adds the symbolism of having almost endless possibilities available. The whale tail is the drive of the tattoos owner and the ocean is representative of life itself. Quite a big message for such a subtle, beautiful piece of skin art… wouldn’t you agree?


What Do Whale Tail Tattoos Mean?

Whale tail tattoos can mean that the owner loves marine biology, or they can mean quite a bit more than that. It can represent someone who sees themselves as powerful and free, or it could even represent a gentle manner with an unbridled, and powerful ambition.

After all, without adding humans into the equation, whales pretty much have their reign in the ocean and are free to go wherever they like. Whale tail tattoos might also serve as a reminder to someone with the whale’s power – that it must be used carefully and in the ‘deep waters’ of life, lest they become trapped in the ‘shallows’.

Finally, if someone has Māori heritage, then Whale tail tattoos are a fine way to display some beautiful skin art that also serves to tell the world that they are ‘Māori and proud’. As you can see, there are a lot of options, so Whale tail tattoos have a lot of subtle complexity for such a seemingly-simple tattoo!


Where Do Whale Tail Tattoos Usually Go?

More often than not, Whale tail tattoos are going to be on the outer arm, typically displayed on the upper area where they might be displayed or hidden easily for when the workday begins. This is not your only option, of course, as it also makes a fine addition or ‘standalone’ for some large tribal backpiece work.  

Placed on the ankle, it can be hidden or shown, just as with the arm, or it could be placed on the hip if the tattoo has some intimate significance to the owner that they would rather share in private than advertise for all to see.


Characteristics and Styles of Whale Tail Tattoos

Maori tribal style is very popular with Whale tail tattoos, but other tribal styles will definitely do right by this simple, but profound skin art choice. They don’t even have to be tribal, of course, and some like to depict a realistic or even a cartoon-style whale tail that has the same symbolism, just ‘said’ in a different way.

The message can also be adapted to be more personal by simply using a different style. For instance, someone who is adept with technology, especially a coder, might use a Geometric whale tail tattoo to express their prowess in the modern sea of technology.

With a New School style whale tail, it even injects a little humor, as if to say that the owner is not only gentle and mighty, but that they also have an excellent sense of humor.

With Watercolor tattoos, you can even give it a surreal and eye popping display that is sure to get some attention, or you could go with photorealistic to show those flukes in finer detail and this can also yield a powerful expression with loads of beauty to go with it!


Some closing words on Whale tail tattoos

If you are looking to capture your fascination with these gentle giants of the oceans, want to show that you have some Maori lineage, or even if you simply expressing you own gentle power, then Whale tail tattoos are an excellent way to do this.

They are quite tasteful and a rather minimalist design that gives you a chance to showcase the symbol or to take it to the next level with eye-popping color or dizzying weaves of tribal bands. If this sounds appealing, then definitely check out these designs – Whale tail tattoos might prove to be an absolutely perfect fit for you!

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