225 Arrow Tattoos: Why It’s More Than Just Cupid’s Arrow (with Meanings)

The arrow is a tattoo design that is starting to gain popularity. It’s so common these days that one would think that it has become part of the fad where people are drawn to a certain design and then forget about it once the hype dies away. Although it’s saddening to know that arrows are now part of the mainstream tattoo designs, it is more than a symbol of something that passes. The arrow means a lot more.

History Of The Arrow 

Just a few years back, archaeologists discovered remnants of bows and arrows in a site in South Africa, specifically at Pinnacle Point cave site. The discoveries comprised of blades made out of sharpened rock, arrow points, spears, and even a few sets of bows and arrows. These items were dated to be made approximately 70,000 years ago.

After some research, archaeologists and scientists formed a theory that bows and arrows were already used by the homo sapiens who were known to have lived at least 200,000 years ago in Africa. However, there is no proof of this yet, and researchers are led to believe that even during that time, humans were already showing signs of advanced thinking.

Aside from its beginnings, you can recall that the bow and arrow have been used in a number of places especially, in Roman and Greek eras. Just by watching documentaries and movies that were Roman and Greek-inspired, you will already get a glimpse of how arrows were used as weapons during wars and invasions. Bow and arrows were a common weapon for those riding on horseback and for those who were perched on top of castles looking down on the enemy.

In other parts of the world, the arrow as a weapon was just another secondary use. Its primary use to people in tribes and in mountains was for hunting. Even until today, a lot of tribesmen carve their own arrows and spears for them to be able to hunt deer, goats, and other animals found in the forest.


Arrows Of Today

Fast forward to today, the arrow is no longer used as a hunting tool or a weapon. Instead, arrows, or archery for that matter, is now considered a sport which people of the higher classes engage in. Nowadays, archery ranges are being built in different parts of the world for people to enjoy. You can easily attribute this to famous Young Adult books like The Hunger Games.

Archery makes use of a bow and arrow to be used as a lever. It’s a misconception that the arrow passes through a hole in the bow. Instead, the arrow only rests at the side of the bow and it is aimed using a string that is stretched and released to create a pushing force. Other versions of the arrow have evolved which included darts. Darts, on the other hand, has not become a sport yet although it is a famous pastime seen in pubs and bars all over the world. Some are no longer made of wood as manufacturers have shifted to using metal and hard plastic.

Different Meanings Of The Arrow 

The arrow symbolizes a lot of other things than just love. In fact, the image of Cupid’s Arrow is just one of the many depictions of the arrow. When it comes to arrows, what you should remember is that depending on the design and direction of where it is pointed, the meaning of the tattoo changes. Here is a list of different arrow tattoo designs.

Meanings Based On Design 

Bow And Arrow

The famous bow and arrow will never go out of style. From medieval wars to modern sports, the bow and arrow have been a symbol for people across all eras. This design can have opposite meanings.

One meaning, which is leaning to the positive side of things, is having an aim. A bow and arrow always have an aim for which the arrow is directed. The same logic follows in a bow and arrow tattoo because it symbolizes having a goal to reach in one’s life. On the other hand, leaning on the negative side is attack. A bow and arrow are as deadly as a knife itself and everyone knows that this equipment has been used in medieval times as a way to kill the enemy.


Taking its meaning from the actual arrow, an arrowhead tattoo is able to give a stronger and more powerful message. The only part in an arrow that actually kills is the arrowhead and having a tattoo of this design symbolizes death or danger.

An arrowhead also symbolizes strength and resilience. Among the other parts of the arrow, the arrowhead is the last one that breaks and when you translate that in human life, a person having an arrowhead tattoo can mean that that person is resilient and ready to face life’s battles.

Crossed Arrows

Arrows that form an ‘x’ is a symbol of friendship, compromise, or truce. This image perfectly depicts two people or two groups that have always been against each other. Crossed arrows are fairly common among medieval themes but it is often used in groups and teams of today.

Broken Arrow

Usually, anything that is broken is taken as a bad sign. A broken heart, a broken promise, a broken bridge. However, in the case of a broken arrow, being broken doesn’t give a negative meaning.

A broken arrow simply means peace. Since arrows in themselves can mean battles and conflicts, a broken arrow shows that those conflicts have been pacified. A broken arrow tattoo is a good symbol for two friends who have been in fights for a long time or two organizations that have finally met halfway.

Arrow Icon

There are a lot of different designs for arrow icons. By simply checking the emojis on your phone, you already have a wide array of arrow icons to choose from. These kinds of designs are often seen on roads or maps. Hence, arrow icons symbolize direction and guidance in popular colors. If you add other elements, then you can already resemble a road sign which can be a very unique design for a tattoo.

Arrow In Motion

Most arrow designs mentioned here have an arrow that is motionless, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be unique and design an arrow that’s in motion. With the use of lines and elements, you can create an arrow that looks like it just came from its bow or that it is on its way towards hitting something or someone (or maybe even falling!).

Arrows in motion, in the literal sense, mean that it’s on its way to hit its target. It’s closely associated with speed and determination because the arrow was actually aimed.

Hands Of A Clock

Just like street signs and map directions, the hands of a clock are made up of arrows. Needless to say, if you design your tattoo with just the hands of a clock, it will definitely be associated with time. It’s either the tattoo becomes a reminder for you that time is running out or that you only have a limited time to be alive. On the other hand, the hands of a clock can tell you that there is time for everything. If you just have the hands and no clock in the design, it can mean, in a deeper level, that time is only a creation of man and that in the greater scheme of things, there is no concept of time.

Meanings Based On Direction


A tattoo that is pointed upward is often treated as a reminder. Unlike arrows that differ in design, any arrow that is pointed upward can be a reminder that there are far bigger things beyond our control or beyond the scope of humans. In other words, a tattoo that is pointed upwards is a reminder to be humble.

Another meaning that an upward arrow symbolizes is a broader perspective. It can remind the person that there is something beyond what is usually seen on the surface level.


Ironically, even if the upward arrow points at the opposite direction of the downward arrow, they both mean the same thing and that is humility.

For the downward arrow, as it points to the ground, it is a reminder to be grounded and to stay rooted in spite of all the temptation to flaunt the ego. In native Indian traditions, a downward arrow symbolizes peace because it points to the ground.

Opposite Directions

Arrows that are pointed in opposite directions whether facing each other or away from each other symbolize conflict. It means that there are two opposing sides or two very different views. Although differences are not entirely bad, two arrows that never meet or are in opposite directions (whether diagonally, horizontally, or vertically) show that they two sides do not see eye to eye.


Circular arrows are often closely associated with time. When people see circular arrows, they will often assume it’s about “turning back time”. Although this is also true because it’s actually one meaning of circular arrows, it can also mean infinity. Because of the direction of the arrows, the effect of going around and around is tied with never-ending life. Alternatively, it can signify a cycle – whether a cycle of life or a cycle of growth and learning.

Popular Tattoo Placements 

Since arrow tattoos are starting to become popular, you have probably met one or two people who have arrow tattoos on the different parts of the body. Here are a few body placements that you can look into.

Shoulder Blade

One of the most known tattoo placements is the shoulder blade. The shoulder area is large enough to have medium- to large-sized tattoos, but the tip of the shoulder is where you want to put a small arrow tattoo. This tattoo is better angled at 45 degrees towards the direction where your shoulder blade is pointing to.




The chest is an ideal part to put an arrow tattoo especially if your design is pointing towards the right, the left, and towards your heart. It may sound cheesy, but a lot of men and women put arrow tattoos towards the heart to signify love and devotion. However, if your design already has an arrow piercing through a heart, putting it in this area might seem redundant.


If you have a low pain tolerance level, then putting a tattoo above the spine is going to be painful. If you think you can’t do it, don’t force it as it might bring a lot of tension and anxiety on the nerves and veins in the area. However, if you can stand the pain, then an arrow tattoo along the spine is a strategic place. For one thing, an arrow pointing upward or downward emphasizes the length of the spine. Also, the arrow over the spine shows off a strong and courageous personality.

Above the Elbow

A few years back, the area above the elbow wasn’t being noticed as a place for having tattoos. Nowadays, it’s starting to become a common tattoo placement. The best design that works in this area is a thin and simple arrow. There are those who also design their arrows using different colored inks like white or light violet.


For medium-sized arrows, there’s no doubt that the forearm is the perfect place for them. It’s long and it’s vertical that one or two arrows can fit in this area. Arrows on the forearm are also often used by couples or best friends because then they can have matching or complementary arrows. A word of advice, if you are planning to have a medium or a large-sized arrow tattoo, pick a dark-colored ink so that the arrow is easily noticeable and it makes a stronger impact.


The ankle is a popular placement for small tattoos because it gives a hidden or subtle effect. Although the ankle itself does not have a lot of veins, the area can be a little painful to put a tattoo on because it’s very close to the bone. If you try touching this part, you can feel that the skin is very thin.

Hip Bone

In terms of pain, the hip bone isn’t a place you want to have a tattoo on, but if you have a high pain tolerance, then taking the risk here will be worth it. The hip bone is a very feminine area to put an arrow tattoo on because the tattoo is best flaunted when you are wearing low-waist jeans or a bikini. The tattoo is best emphasized by fit women because the hip bone becomes prominent and so will your tattoo be.


Tips For Your First Ever Tattoo 

When getting a tattoo for the first time, you will definitely feel anxious and as early as now, you should know that it is normal to be so. A permanent tattoo is not like any other decor or accessory you put on your body because unlike the others, a permanent tattoo is, well, permanent. At the same time, it’s not exactly exciting to have a needle continuously piercing through your skin just to create a design. So, to help you get over those jitters, here are a few tips you should keep in mind.

Look for the right tattoo artist.

Aside from the tattoo and the placement, another very important aspect of the tattoo process is choosing the right tattoo artist. It’s important that you allot enough time to choose your tattoo artist because he or she will be the one making the tattoo and you don’t want to take that part for granted.

Usually, people end up knowing their artist from referrals. So, if you have friends or relatives that have tattoos, you will usually meet a few tattoo artists that they recommend. However, don’t feel guilty if you can’t find the right fit with them. What’s important is that you pick a tattoo artist who can give justice to your design, give the right rate, and be able to make you feel comfortable during the tattoo appointment.

Consult your design and placement beforehand.

Once you’ve picked the right tattoo artist, don’t miss out on the opportunity to consult your design. Tattoo artists often give advice on how to revise the tattoo so that they fit the area where you want to place it. There will also be times that they give recommendations on where your arrow tattoo will be better placed.

Allocate a budget.

If budget is not an issue for you, then you can proceed with the next tip. However, it’s always recommended to have a budget even if you can afford to get an expensive tattoo. This is because you don’t want to regret spending a lot of money on a tattoo that will eventually disappoint you. Haggling is not encouraged especially since there is a lot of skill and work needed from tattoo artists to create a complicated and unique design, but make sure that you know why your tattoo will be priced in that way.

Prepare for your tattoo appointment.

When you already have a set date for your tattoo appointment, make sure that you prepare well for it. These tips are designed to guide you through the whole process of getting inked, but a week before your appointment, pay close attention to how ready you are for your tattoo. If you find that you are not ready, don’t hesitate to reschedule because getting a tattoo is a huge deal whether you admit it or not. Make sure to prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically for the big day.

Avoid blood thinners.

One of the ways you can prepare for your tattoo appointment is to avoid consuming blood thinners. Blood thinners make it hard for the ink to seep through and it will also make your skin more susceptible to wounds. Examples of blood thinners are aspirin and alcohol. Although they are able to prevent blood clots, they aren’t advisable for anyone who is planning to get a tattoo 2-3 days after consumption. Yes, alcohol may prevent you from feeling any pain from the needle, but you also won’t enjoy seeing a lot of unnecessary bleeding in the area of the tattoo.

Bring a friend with you.

If it’s your first time, it’s always advisable to bring a friend. Your friend can help you calm down or distract you when you’re having a hard time forgetting that there’s a needle piercing through your skin. If you have a friend who has gotten a tattoo before, you can always ask that person to accompany you so that they can help manage your expectations when getting a tat. Also, they can give tips on how to take care of your tattoo afterward.

Distract yourself.

And finally, if you didn’t bring a friend with you or you ran out of words to say, make sure that you are ready with other things that can keep you distracted. For one thing, bring a power bank with you and earphones so that you can listen to some music to calm you down or to make you feel less anxious. You can also bring a book with you to pass the time. In this way, you could even forget that there’s a needle being injected into your skin. 

By now, you have probably realized that there is more to arrow tattoos than the popular Cupid’s Arrow. While there is nothing to have a tattoo inspired by Cupid, there is a lot more symbolism for arrows that you can take advantage of. From traditional to popular, arrow designs are a great choice for both men and women.

What do you think?

Written by Jack


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