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Tattoo designs - M >> Mermaids

Mermaid TattoosMermaid Tattoo Designs - A popular nautical tattoo symbol, a Mermaid is a legendary creature thought to be half human, almost always a woman, and half fish. Sailors usually reported seeing mermaids after having spent many months at sea, and probably after having had one too many tots of rum! Mermaids were often portrayed sitting on a rock, combing their long flowing tresses while gazing into a mirror. Mermaids were symbols of potent female energy and the underlying threat was that a sailor would be lured to his death by drowning if he pursued a mermaid. Sirens were similar, in that they were beautiful women-like creatures who with their songs and their beauty would lure sailors and their ships to wreck upon the rocks. Unions between mermaids and the sailors or men they fall in love with, almost always end tragically.

The Mermaid, and to a lesser extent, Merman, is an enduring mythological figure and symbol and has been around for thousands of years in many different cultures. Early mermaid legends can be traced back nearly five thousand years around the Mediterranean. In Greek mythology, mermaid-like creatures make their appearance. The Greeks were a great sea faring people and the Greek Empire, supported in great part by their naval prowess at one time nearly encircled the Mediterranean. The Greeks were obviously aware of and exposed to all the legends and myths surrounding mermaids and siren-like creatures.

In Greek Mythology, Mermaid-like creatures were often the results of unions between Gods and sea creatures, such as Zeus and Poseidon, and they were identified with the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, who was born from the sea, and who also symbolized erotic love to the Greeks. Aphrodite was also the Goddess of Fertility, and goddess of fair sailing, along with her companion the sacred dolphin.

Many of the symbols and attributes associated with Aphrodite, were subsequently symbolized in the Roman Goddess Venus, retaining as well in the mermaid myth. In Botticelli's famous painting, "The Birth of Venus", the Goddess can be seen rising naked from the sea, her naked body draped only by her luxurious hair. Venus' mirror, later a symbol of her vanity, originally represented the planet Venus in astrological tradition.

Mermaid tattoosThe long flowing hair of the Mermaid (symbolizing an abundant love potential) can also be seen in the representations of the Goddesses Aphrodite and Venus, and their roles as a potent fertility goddesses. The Mermaid's comb, necessary to keep all that hair in order, carried sexual connotations for the Greeks, as their words for comb, kteis and pecten, also signified the female vulva.

France has the legends of Melusine and Undine, both water-spirits who married noblemen. These mixed marriages in legend almost invariably fail miserably, with the unhappy mermaid ultimately unable to abandon her ocean element.

mermaid statue

In Germany on the Rhine River they had their Lorelei or Nix, a beautiful blonde siren who sat on a cliff luring boatmen to their deaths with her songs, in traditional style.

Mermaid Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!In Norway the 'havfrau' portends imminent disaster if sighted sitting on the surface of the water combing her long golden hair with a golden comb.

The Japanese have their mermaids known as Ningyo.

Get inspired by some really amazing images and photos in our Mermaid Inspiration Gallery

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See also: Nautical Tattoo Index, Marine Life Tattoo Index, Nautical Tattoo Designs

Tattoo designs - M >> Mermaids

Tattoo Symbol Index - A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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