"Polly wants a cracker." The phrase is synonymous with "parrot", particularly one that sits on a pirate's shoulder, as was made famous in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic story, Treasure Island (1883). Long John Silver, the one-legged pirate, had his parrot, "Capt. Flint", who may not have been the first parrot to be associated with the name "Polly", but he certainly popularized it. And Polly certainly ensured that the parrot would become an iconic symbol of the pirate tradition.
As a legendary companion to man, the parrot suggests a kind of guardian. Their ability to "parrot" speech makes them a symbol of communication. As a totem, they lend us psychic support to fly, look beautiful, and be a maestro of non-malicious mockery. Parrots are also said to symbolize courtship. The Hindu god of love, Kama, took a parrot as his symbol. The Hopi people of the American Southwest embrace a "parrot clan" who saw the parrot as a symbol of the South, and of abundance.
A word of caution to would-be keepers of exotic birds read up before you purchase one. Most kept birds die well before their time. The average life span of the larger parrots is 75 years, but due to their sometimes aggressive, noisy, biting behavior - all of which is perfectly natural - many of them die of neglect and abuse. The result has been the establishment of numerous parrot shelters in many urban centers. Even more troubling is that many parrots are protected species, and the public's appetite for exotic birds had led to serious declines in wild populations and the loss of many birds in illegal smuggling and bird-trafficking operations. Perhaps no other group of birds has been as exploited as have parrots, and a parrot tattoo is an homage to one of the most colourful characters in the avian world and certainly in literature.
Below you will find a gallery of inspirational images that will help you in your quest of creating the perfect parrots tattoo.