Sankofa Bird Tattoo – Meanings, Symbolism, Designs and Ideas

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular and with the rise of this beautiful art, the bigger is the demand of people to find the perfect design for their bodies. Sometimes it is not enough to just get something written on your body, because quotes tend to get “stale” after a while and you overcome certain thoughts as time goes by this is why often symbols of animals and symbols from nature in general, are more popular than words.

Sailors, criminals and ex-convicts – or similar – were the types of people you would encounter wearing tattoos and being tattooed in general.

The story shows the tattoo in a different light. Kings and bourgeois people, Polynesian sailors, people in the South Pacific and of course criminals – they all wore it, the body jewelry. Evidence and reports from Egypt, Greenland, Japan and New Zealand provide information about how old tradition really is. For Maori’s and Island residents in the Pacific, permanent body art often served to delineate social classes, but also as a religious symbol of life after death.

Since the late eighteenth century, the Japanese have known the “body suit,” a full-body tattoo that was seen as a protest against the banning of certain kimonos worn at banned celebrations. Now you simply tattoo the colorful symbols on the skin. But Japan has gone through some changes in its position on the tattoo. This happened around 300 AD. There are records showing that tattoos were worn as jewelry in Japan. This changed drastically in the following centuries. Presumably taken over by the Chinese, who considered tattoos to be barbaric (except, for example, from the Drung and Dai minorities), tattooing began about 600 AD. Outlawed in Japan and used – as the Chinese already before – as a mark for criminals.

Overall, the records of early travelers and explorers of the world show that the art can survive at least up to 10,000 or 15,000 BC. This is how far back the tattoos go. One also remembers the find of the “Ötzi” in 1991 in the Alps. Professor Konrad Spindler of the University of Innsbruck (Institute of Prehistory and Early History) described that the skin of the “man in the ice”, which was classified as 5,000 years old, and he wore different tattoos. Some excavation finds objects dating back to more than 10,000 years BC, all up to the 3rd century BC, they have been classified as early instruments for tattooing.

Nature is full of inspiration and we can always drive our inspiration from it. There are countless animals and other nature’s riches that we can use as symbols and put on our body as a reminder of something important.

In today’s text, we are going to talk about the Sankofa bird and the unusual meaning behind it.

So, if you are interested to find out what this bird represents, or you are just seeking for design inspiration, this article might be interesting for you.

Meanings and Symbolism

Bird tattoos have a special place in tattoo art because of their immense symbolical meaning.

Birds are beautiful creatures and for centuries people envied them because of their ability to fly high and go reach closer to the sky, which is the thing a man couldn’t do back then.

Bird tattoos have a strong symbolical meaning, but some of the common meanings are:

  • Freedom and independence
  • Nobility
  • Feeling protected and guided
  • Family connection and motherly love
  • Elegance and beauty
  • Knowledge
  • Love and harmony

Bird tattoos are available in all sorts of colors and the number of items you can choose to add to a design is only limited to the depth of your imagination. Some birds have a special meaning to make other designs vivid, and yet there are those bird tattoos that are simply incredible on their own. In most designs, bird tattoos have natural elements like flowers, a feeling of femininity and beauty to add to the piece. Drawings that relate to a cage or other type of enclosure show your desire to express the problems you have hidden inside of you.

The Sankofa bird drives its symbolism from the African continent, more specifically from Akan people in Ghana. This bird is painted with its head turning back to fetch and egg or simply as a bird with its head turning back, as a symbol of looking back into the past and taking what is good out of it. This way you can bring it back into the present and apply all the good things you’ve learned to make your existence easier. Sankofa bird is usually painted as a heart as well, and as a symbol it was very often used by this indigenous people. They represented their intellectual and philosophical ideas through this simple symbol, so that is why we can often see this bird on ancient artifacts and objects.

Design and Ideas

When getting a tattoo it is very important to find the right place and design for your tattoo. If you decide on a smaller tattoo, then you can’t really chose anything too complicated or complex, so you will have to go with something that looks good in smaller size.

Sankofa bird is a great option for smaller tattoos because you can tattoo in tribal style, where only the shape of the bird is recognizable and it doesn’t have any details on the body itself. For a smaller tattoo like this, wrists, ankles, back or even your shoulders are the perfect placement. Basically you can choose any spot on your body, because small tattoos don’t take up a lot of space.

However, if you decide to do a more complex tattoo and design, you will have to think about the placement of the tattoo. Sankofa birds can be tattooed with such creative designs since it belongs to African culture, which is very colorful and bold.

Sankofa bird design is always the same in terms of the position of the bird’s neck, so it is important to choose a tattoo artist that is going to represent the Sankofa bird in the right way and in its full beauty.

As a symbol, the Sankofa bird tattoo is already very powerful, so there is no need to add anything next to it like text or other symbols. You can perhaps add something else on its back, instead of an egg, if you really want to make it a personal design. You can add something that reminds you of the past, and something that you are ready to bring back to your future with you.

Sankofa bird is such a beautiful and symbolical tattoo that is going to be a perfect design, small or big. Deciding to do this tattoo in color is going to really bring out the African element in this design, while black and white design is going to represent the simplicity of this symbol and its pure symbolical value. Whichever design you choose, make sure you find a good tattoo artist that is going to help you come up with a great design and idea for your tattoo. Going for a smaller tattoo is always a good idea if you are not sure about getting a tattoo, or in case you change your mind in the future because it won’t be that visible or be “in your face” all the time.