The wombat, native to Australia and beloved for its large, fluffy body and sweet face, has become a popular tattoo design recently – especially for those from Australia. The wombat is most associated with stability, determination, justice, and conflict resolution.
Originating as a spiritual totem for the Aboriginal people of Australia, the wombat has become an unofficial symbol of Australian pride. It is not uncommon to see a wombat as a tattoo on someone wishing to honor their Australian roots, the wombat also has deep symbology in dream interpretation and holds a lot of significance as a spirit animal.
For the rest of this article, we will explore the significance of wombat tattoos, this animal’s symbolism and meanings, and the cultural significance of the wombat.
What is the History Behind Wombat Tattoos?
This large Australian marsupial is native to Australia, and its ancestors – giant wombats – lived alongside the first Aboriginal people of Australia. In fact, it was believed that the giant wombats became extinct because the early Australian people hunted them into extinction, highly prizing the wombat for its fur and meat.
Now, the wombat is a protected species and can be found all over Australia and Tasmania. Because Tasmania has a cooler climate than mainland Australia, Tasmanian wombats have thicker fur than their Australian counterparts.
This marsupial is an unusual species, even by Australian standards. Unlike other marsupials such as the kangaroo and the opossum, the wombat has a backward-facing pouch to protect their young from the dirt and sand of their burrows.
Wombats live in complex tunnel systems, with some species living alone in individual burrows and others living in colonies in interconnected tunnel systems.
Despite their shyness and propensity to hide from danger rather than confront it, wombats can be aggressive especially during breeding time. The fur on their backside evolved to be especially coarse – made of thick, bristly cartilage – to discourage any predator that follows this animal into its burrow. It spends most of its time underground in its tunnel.
The wombat carries great cultural significance to the Aboriginal people of Australia, as will be addressed in the following section.
What Do Wombat Tattoos Symbolize?
Because of its plain and unassuming nature, it comes as no surprise that the wombat represents stability, firm foundations, and emotional insecurity. T
heir stocky bodies, with thick fur and stubby legs, leads for them to also symbolize weighty matters.
Aboriginal Legend: How the Wombat Lost His Tail
One of the oldest stories featuring the wombat cements this animal in the cultural significance of the Aboriginal people of Australia. According to legend, Wombat used to have a long tail, which he used for many things.
However, he was always scratching his dry, itchy skin to the point where others wouldn’t come near him for fear of him having a contagious skin disease. Others feared Wombat had done something wrong and was cursed for his wrongdoing.
To cure his itch, Wombat decided to visit the Yuri woman who lived in the Valley of Sweet Water. If anyone could cure his itch it was her. The woman asked for Wombat’s tail in exchange for the cure.
Wombat didn’t want to give up his useful tail but promised to do so if she cured his itch. The Yuri woman offered Wombat a plant and told him to only use it once a day.
Wombat used the plant, and it was the one thing that finally soothed his itch. He was so happy that he disregarded the Yuri woman’s instructions to use it once a day. He also forgot to return and give her his tail.
The plant’s use was temporary, and Wombat had to use more and more to keep his itch at bay. He became angry when he was itchy and hit his family and friends with his tail, soon using up all the plants in the region.
The Yuri woman and Wombat’s family and friends cut off Wombat’s tail as revenge for not heeding the Yuri woman’s advice and for injuring those who loved him.
Wombat spent the rest of his life digging tunnels, searching for his missing tail, but to no avail.
To the Aborigines, the wombat represents caution and what happens when one doesn’t heed advice.
What Do Wombat Tattoos Mean?
Wombats have several meanings, both positive and negative. The following lists their meanings, from the well-known to the more obscure.
- Weight (either emotional or physical)
- Issues concerning the home
- Righteous aggression
- Defense of home and family
- Need for validation
Wombat symbolism extends into the dream realm. When someone has a dream in which they or someone close to them is a wombat, it symbolizes feeling overlooked and underappreciated. It could also represent jealousy, as the wombat is a relatively homely and plain animal compared to other Australian mammals such as kangaroos or dingoes.
Wombats’ tendency to spend most of their lives deep in their burrows causes them to represent the duality of home: both comfort with familiar surroundings, but also dissatisfaction in staying in one place and missing out on seeing other places.
Characteristics and Styles of Wombat Tattoos
Wombat tattoos come in many styles, color palettes, and designs, ranging from geometric to minimalist to watercolor and more. Wombats are typically grayish brown in color, but wombat tattoos come in all colors.
A wombat with its young is one of the most popular wombat designs and might be chosen by someone to honor motherhood or fatherhood, or their commitment to being the best parent they can be. Because wombats are representative of defending one’s family, it’s no surprise that this would be a popular design.
Wombat tattoos, being a strictly Australian animal, may be added to other symbols of Australia – such as boomerangs, digeridoos, and other native flora and fauna – to enhance the representation of Australian pride.
Where Do Wombat Tattoos Usually Go?
The back, chest, arm, and leg are the best places for tattoo placement if you want to show off your wombat tattoo, and are also the best places for larger tattoos.
The fingers, toes, neck, ankles, and wrists are good places for small or minimalist wombat tattoos.