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111+ Small Dove Tattoo Designs And Their Big Meanings

Tattoos have long been a form of personal expression. More than a design on the body, tattoos have been used to mark important life events, people, and places. It has even evolved as a form of fashion statement where celebrities get tattoos to add character and style.

There are many tattoo designs that you can choose from and one of them are dove tattoos. Dove tattoos are often tied to meanings of peace and calmness. Although you can pick out any symbol to show peace, there is no denying that a dove is one of the most beautiful creatures that can give justice to it.


What To Consider In Getting A Tattoo

Before deciding to get a tattoo, you should step on the brakes first and consider some of these things:

  • What is your tattoo going to mean? If tattoos weren’t permanent, then you don’t have to stop and think about this. But tattoos, when placed, will always be part of your skin so it would help to take a step back and think of what you want it to say about you. The main purpose of a tattoo is to add meaning; that is why it is often used to mark significant events in one’s life. When you know what your future tattoo will mean, the more you will see value in it over time.
  • If money is not an issue, then you don’t have to worry about this one. However, if it is, then you have to know how much you are willing to spend on a tattoo. A tattoo’s price is affected by the artist’s professional fee, the design, the color, and the size. If you aren’t prepared to shell out money, then one of those factors might be compromised which can result in a bad tattoo.
  • Size and Location. You might be wondering why you shouldn’t consider the design first. Well, designs can easily be adjusted and there are so many designs to choose from. Narrowing your options can help you decide the design later on. So for size, how big or small should the tattoo be? It will help to know where you plan on placing it so you can get advice on what the size should be. If you want it to cover a body part, then this will help you decide on the size.
  • Before telling yourself that you can just fix it or remove it when you no longer like it, remember this: tattoos are permanent. There are ways to remove it, for sure, but they are not worth it since you have to go through expensive and invasive methods just to get rid of it.
  • Lastly, you want to consider who will make your tattoo. There are artists who are good with designs but fall short in terms of lightness of hand and expertise. When picking an artist, make sure that they are famous and credible enough. Try to look at reviews so you know what to expect.

So now that you’ve considered these things and still have a strong resolve to get a tattoo, then it’s time to dig into dove tattoos.


History of Dove Tattoos

Since Greek and Roman mythology, the dove has been a symbol attached to Aphrodite, the goddess of fertility and love. Aphrodite had seven children who were also referred to as doves in mythology. As for Aztec mythology, the dove was a symbol for the goddess of love, Xochiquetzal.

Apart from mythology, early tribes in the United States believed that doves were a symbol of one’s soul. These tribes believed that once someone dies, their soul turns into a dove and this is why doves are used as symbols for deceased loved ones.

When it comes to religion, Christianity, more specifically the Holy Spirit, has been linked to the dove. Among all the birds, the dove was chosen to describe the Holy Spirit. To add to that, the dove with an olive branch in its beak originated in the Bible which meant new beginnings and peace.

While there is no document that shows when dove tattoos started, there are accounts that talk about the history of the symbolism of doves. If you would notice, doves were a common bird to be used in different cultures.

Symbolism and Meanings

Based on historical accounts, doves are said to have different meanings and symbols. Here are some of the common meanings that doves signify.

1. New Beginnings

Thanks to Noah’s Ark, the dove became a symbol for new beginnings. In the story, Noah sent a dove to look for signs of life. When the dove came back, it had an olive branch in its beak.

For some people, a dove is a sign or a mark that they are ready to start a new life. It shows that the person has accepted the past and that he is ready to turn his life around or to leave all of it behind. A dove tattoo would then be a reminder that the person has chosen to move on from something that has happened in their life. This means that a dove tattoo can be a sign of independence and growth.


2. Peace

Similar to moving on, a dove tattoo is a sign of peace. It can be an inner peace that someone has experienced. It can also be a reminder for people to be at peace regardless of what life has thrown at them.

Since the dove has been a symbol for the Holy Spirit, a suggested meaning is that a dove can be God’s reminder of better days ahead. It is a sign that there will be peace or that all will be well in God’s will.

3. Love

Based on Greek mythology where Aphrodite used a dove as her symbol, a dove then started signifying love. Usually, this is depicted by two doves. If you would notice, there are pieces of jewelry wherein there are two doves that create a heart. There are also some items where one dove is with the other partner while the other one is with the other. The same can go for tattoos.

4. Motherhood/Family

Dove tattoos can also signify motherhood, or specifically, family. A bunch of doves where there are two big doves and several small ones can depict a family. Depending on the design, it can also show affection and motherly love.

This dove meaning can be linked to the notion that the dove is a symbol of endless love. In real life, doves make it a point to stay close to each other and this is where the symbolism comes from. The same should then be applied to married couples and families.

5. Success

Success can be an added meaning to doves when you pattern it towards having a new life. Since doves are signs of new beginnings, doves can also be a sign of success especially in the form of being able to rise up to challenges.

Common Placements

With all the technology today that will make tattoos safer and more versatile, tattoos can be placed anywhere in the body except, of course, in very sensitive areas.

For dove tattoos, there is no rule that tells you where you should put it, but there are certain areas where a dove tattoo will make more of an impact. Because the focus is small dove tattoos, the tattoo locations should not be the “in your face” areas. In other words, if your goal is to have a subtle tattoo that people will only have a peak of, then hidden areas are the best place to put them in.

Take, for example, a dove tattoo is best placed at a small part of your back instead of dead center. It can be below your nape or at the side, near your hips. You can also put a dove tattoo on your shoulder where it won’t be seen right away unless you wear sleeveless tops. More unique dove tattoo placements are at your arm, just above your elbow. You might also consider putting the tattoo at the side of your ribs, where it is often covered by your shirt or your arm.

On the other hand, the more common tattoo placements (that can still accommodate small tattoos) are the inner side of your wrist, below the ear, and on your ankle. These areas are perfect for having small dove tattoos because they aren’t big body parts that you notice right off the bat.


Designs For Tattoo Inspiration


Finally, to the part that you have been waiting for – design inspirations for your dove tattoo. Here, you’ll find some design inspirations that you are free to change depending on your preference.

  1. Dove with spread angel wings

The most common dove tattoo design is a dove with its wings spread. This makes sense because a dove loses its majesty when it isn’t in flight. It also looks more animated when the wings are spread because it’s like you caught them in action. Rarely do you see a dove tattoo where the wings are just by the sides of the dove.

To make your dove more unique, you can change the shape of the dove to make it chubbier, thinner, smaller, etc. You can also design the kind of wings they have (although if you want to be technical about it, doves have the same kinds of wings). You can also design the wings to have different angles to show different kinds of flight.

  1. Dove with olive branch on the beak/dove with vines

This tattoo design is common, but it has never lost its charm. A dove carrying an olive branch on its beak is one of the most beautiful tattoos you’ll ever see because it’s simple yet a lot of meaning can be attached to it.

If you aren’t a fan of olive branches, then you can customize it with a different design. Some people simply pick a different branch that is a symbol for something else and they combine it with the dove to add more meaning to it. To add a little twist to your tattoo, you can opt not to have a branch on the dove’s beak. Instead, you can choose to have the dove nest on a branch of a tree making it look more peaceful. You can design it in such a way that the dove can be perched on a small branch with flowers or leaves. To make it look more dynamic, you can add scattered leaves near the dove.

  1. Dove with rays of light in the background

If you are more spiritual, you can opt to get a dove tattoo with light in its background. However, some would argue that rays of light work best for large tattoos. Since you are eyeing small and subtle tattoos, what you can do is to have light rays of light (ask your artist to make the black ink look gradient) and have 2-3 thin rays of light shining at the back of the dove.

  1. Two Doves

This tattoo design is often found in people in relationships. Two doves are a symbol of love and affection which makes it a perfect symbol for two people in love.

You can add a touch of your character with this tattoo just as long as there are two doves. You can choose to have two doves meet each other from a distance, two doves perched on a branch, or two doves forming a heart that will also symbolize a family.

  1. A flock of doves in flight

Another design inspiration is a flock of doves in flight. Depending on the number of doves you want (although it does not usually reach more than four birds if you place them in a small area of your body), you can arrange them to describe the kind of flight they are having. Some examples would be a flock of birds in one direction, some are forming a shape, some have different angled wings, etc. To make it more dramatic, use black ink and color the whole dove blank, leaving no space that shows your skin. This makes the doves more defined and in shadow which adds a different effect than making them the color of your skin.

  1. An outline of a dove

Lastly, to save ink and detail, you can choose to have an outline of a dove as a tattoo. When you say outline, this means that not every part of the dove is in detail. Some dove tattoos don’t even have feathers and facial features on them. Among the other dove designs, this is the simplest because you literally just have the outline of the dove.

There are still a lot of dove tattoo inspirations you can have, but you can also design your own dove tattoo from scratch. When you go to the tattoo studio, make sure that you ask the artist if they can copy your design or not (even if they will not admit to it). This is because some artists can only do simple tattoo designs. The more details you have on your tattoo, the harder it is for some artists.

dove-tattoo designs

Taking Care Of Your Tattoos

If it’s your first time to get a tattoo, you will notice that it will look reddish in the beginning. No, the ink won’t be red, but the surrounding skin will look reddish. Don’t worry, this is only natural because your skin is still healing from the needles. Nonetheless, it is best that you follow these aftercare tips to make sure you don’t ruin your tattoo especially when it’s starting to heal.

While artists and tattoo studios have different advice for taking care of your tattoos, a majority have the same guidelines to make sure that you don’t ruin the ink and avoid infection.

First, the studio will either rub the tattoo with petroleum jelly (for the pain and for faster healing) or a bandage. Since the ink is still new on the skin, avoid touching and keep it from harm’s way. Wait for at least four hours before you wash it off. When you wash your tattoo, do not scrub it. Using lukewarm water, pour water on the artwork and then gently wash it with soap. The soap should not be a bar that you scrub on your skin. Try using a body wash for a rich and smoother lather.

After washing, gently pat it with a towel; again, no scrubbing. Apply moisturizing lotion on the area to keep it smooth and soft, but don’t let sweat accumulate in the area. This will prevent infection. Depending on your artist, they will either advise you to cover it up with a bandage (usually gauze) especially when it will be covered by clothes. If it won’t, they can be left to air dry.

An important thing to note is to not scratch your tattoo no matter what. Sometimes during the healing process, you might find the urge to scratch it or to touch it wondering when it will heal. Do your best to not give in to temptation because who knows what kind of bacteria you have on your fingers? To be safe, follow the aftercare steps mentioned above and keep doing so for a week. By that time, your small or medium-sized tattoo would have healed.

What do you think?

Written by Jack


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