The Original Meaning of Nautical Star Tattoos

rydejAs you may or may not be aware, nautical star tattoos have sparked some heated debate in recent years in regards to what their actual meaning really is. Many groups have attempted to brand the design with their own interpretations and the tattoo has become popular with the military, punk rockers, the lesbian community, and the anti-racism movement in recent years.

But what is the origin of this mysterious nautical star tattoo? Where did it come from and what was it intended to represent?

It is generally understood and accepted that sailors were the first group of people to sport the nautical start tattoo.

In previous centuries, working at sea was a dangerous and unpredictable way to earn a living. Due to a lack of advancement in technology, sailors had to mainly rely on the light of the stars at night to guide them on their journeys. The star that provided the most light for these sailors was Polaris, otherwise known as the North Star. Since this star is positioned relatively close to the North Pole, it appeared to be stationary most of the time, while other stars’ locations seemed to be ever-changing. The sailors of the old days used it as a fixed reference point upon which they could position their ships accordingly and be reasonable confident that they were going in the correct direction.sailor-getting-tattooed

As this practice continued overtime, the North Star became a symbol of find your way home safely and symbolically finding your way in life. Further, many sailors were deeply superstitious with a deep history of lore about life and death at sea. They were always looking for lucky charms. As a result of this, many sailors began placing nautical stars on their forearms or hands as a symbol of good luck and desire to get home safely.shutterstock_67055758

As we fast forward through the centuries, the meaning of the nautical star has broadened vastly. Now, not only is it a symbol of the sea, but also of security and guidance for all sailors and travelers. People even view it as a sign of following your dreams and achieving success in life.

Of course, there is some disagreement surrounding the design of the nautical star. Most people will accept the basic design as a five-pointed star, but a minority of contenders state that the nautical star should represent and thus, replicate the traditional design of a ship’s compass. This consists of the four cardinal directions, North, South, East, West and possibly the intermediate directions of North East, South East, South West, and North West. This means that their idea of the nautical star is an eight-pointed design.shutterstock_192269051-[Converted]

Personally for me, I feel as though the five-point design best captures the true design of the nautical star, especially when you consider the fact that many nautical maps have north shown by a compass style, five-pointed star.

In any case, no matter what design style is selected, one thing is absolutely clear: the nautical star is historically connected with naval tradition and was originally a symbol of making it home safely. While other groups may attempt to brand it with their own identities, the sailors of bygone centuries will always retain the distinction of representing the original interpretation of this iconic tattoo design.

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