If you’ve read a lot of young adult (YA) books, you have probably come across a book that had a wolf in it. Wolves aren’t even confined in YA books because there are also other fictional books that have mentioned wolves in their stories like the popular Game of Thrones series. Which makes people think, what is it with wolves?
The History And Legend Of The Wolf
Different cultures see wolves differently. There are some who look at them as powerful creatures while others consider wolves as a sign of bad luck or evil. Here, you’ll find some legends and folklore attached to the wolf across different cultures.
In Rome, the image of the wolf comes from a Roman myth. If you’ve noticed artworks and sculptures in Rome, you will notice the image of the wolf is very prevalent. This is attributed to the she-wolf, Lupa, who is known to have taken care of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.
The story is that Romulus and Remus were both thrown to a river in their baskets. With the help of Tiber, the river god, the basket got caught among the roots of a tree. This is where Lupa found the twins.
Unlike Rome, the wolf is not seen as a sign of power in Greece. Instead, the legend of the wolf is said to have come from a human, Lycaon. King Lykaion was known to make human sacrifices to the altar of Zeus in Mount Lykaion. This ritual also involved a feast where the human sacrifice will be passed onto the guests. The guest who eats part of the human sacrifice is said to turn into a wolf.
In Northern Europe, the stories revolving around wolves vary depending on the country. Take Scotland, for example, which views wolves as a sign of destruction and death. This is attributed to the goddess Cailleach who is known to ride a wolf as she rides through villages carrying an axe that is made from human flesh. Cailleach is known to be the goddess of destruction in Scotland and one of the creatures that she protects is the wolf.
Pawnee Tribe (Native American)
When it comes to the United States, the native Americans are full of wolf stories. Take, for example, the Pawnee tribe that believes that the wolf is the first living creature who has experienced death. When a meeting was held to discuss how the Earth was to be created, The Wolf Star, one of the early creatures during the time, was not invited. When he knew about this, he sent a wolf to kill the people in the meeting only to get killed by the humans. According to the tribe, this was the first incident of death on Earth.
Cherokee Tribe (Native American)
The Cherokee Tribe tells a different tale when it comes to the wolf. According to them, the wolf and the dog used to live in harmony during the olden times. The dog was living in the mountains while the wolf lived on the foot of the mountain by the fire. During one winter, the dog was starting to get cold so he went down to change places with the wolf. However, the wolf realized that he was better off in the mountains. This became the start of a long and loyal relationship between dogs and humans while the wolf is to be feared in the mountains.
Wolves aren’t just popular among Western cultures. In Japan, the Ainu people look at the wolf as a god. The Ainus, living in the island of Hokkaido, are said to call the wolf “Howling God”. The story has it that there was a wolf who mated with a goddess which resulted to the Ainu people of Hokkaido. There are other stories that also talk about how the Ainu people interacted with wolves. During the time where wolves were abundant in this area in Hokkaido, wolves and humans were said to live in harmony.
Why Get A Wolf Tattoo?
If you’re not a fan of wolves, why get them as a tattoo in the first place? Here are a few reasons why choosing the wolf to symbolize your traits and experiences might be a good idea.
- It’s unique.
How many people have you seen sporting a wolf tattoo? Most likely you’ve only seen one or you haven’t seen anyone at all with a wolf tattoo. That is why this design is a good idea for your next tattoo is because you’re sure you won’t have the same tattoo as anybody else. Even if you come across someone who is sporting a wolf tattoo like you, most likely both of you will have different elements in the tattoo, unlike other common tattoo designs that you are sure you’ll find on at least five people you meet.
- There are many kinds of wolves.
If you aren’t fond of a certain wolf’s look, then there’s no stopping you in picking another kind of wolf. There are a lot of cultures that make use of the wolf as a symbol for a lot of things and you can pick among these images.
- They have different meanings.
Similar to the many images of the wolf, it follows that a lot of cultures also have their own meanings and symbolism associated with the wolf. In North America alone, there are at least three different meanings attached to wolves depending on the tribe. You will be surprised that this mythological created can symbolize courage and evil.
- They are beautiful and majestic to look at.
Besides, if you are aiming for something beautiful and majestic, why not get a wolf tattoo? Wolves are known to be strong creatures and whether or not they exist in your country, the animal is widely known as a creature not to be reckoned with. And it’s not just their characteristics that make them beautiful to have on a tattoo. Wolves look different from a dog and just based on their fur, anyone observing your tattoo will know that the design is much more powerful than if it were a dog.
Wolf Tattoo Meanings
Based on the legends and folklore mentioned above, the following meanings are associated with wolves:
Power is a common symbol of the wolf. Taking its roots in Roman legends, the wolf is attributed to Lupa, the she-wolf that took care of the founders of Rome.
The wolf is known to be the divine messenger of the Roman god, Mars. In the stories involving Romulus and Remus, their mother, Rhea Silvia, was said to have been raped by the god of Mars. When the twins were thrown out to the river, a she-wolf was sent to take care of the babies.
Taken from the stories of Native Americans, the wolf signifies a force not to be reckoned with. It symbolizes destruction in villages especially when the wolf’s peace is disturbed. Being a strong and big creature, villagers and tribes believe that the wolf can cause destruction to their homes and bring about sadness and fear.
Like dogs, wolves are also considered man’s best friend especially when in the wilderness. Wolves are great companions when you go hunting and sledding because of their natural skill in navigating cold and dark places.
There is no doubt that wolves are smart. In fact, in some dream and totem symbolisms, a dream about a wolf signifies that your consciousness (or unconsciousness) is trying to tell you something. This is often attributed to an idea or a warning that will later be used in your life. Some would argue that a wolf also signifies the instinct. In reality, the wolf is known to have acute senses and these allow them to navigate forests easily.
You may think that wolves always travel in packs and that they have an Alpha and Omega. Although in some novels, this is true, the wolf is also a symbol of autonomy and self-governance. Having a wolf as a tattoo can show that although you are in a group or in a society full of norms, you have the ability to break free and decide how you want to live your own life. This is usually when the phrase “lone wolf” applies.
How To Pick The Right Tattoo Artist
Unless you want a silhouette of a wolf, a wolf tattoo will be more detailed than usual. This is why it matters who your tattoo artist is and whether or not they can give justice to your tattoo inspiration. Here are a few things you should look for when picking the right tattoo artist:
The first and most important characteristic to look at is the expertise. Since wolf tattoos are complicated and detailed, you have to narrow your choices to tattoo artists who are experienced in applying complicated designs. Creating a tattoo is not just about the technical skill of putting a needle on the skin; it also involves artistic skill. The tattoo artist should have at least a background in drawing or painting so that he or she knows how to sketch and color your tattoo. No one wants a permanent ugly-looking wolf on their skin.
The next thing you should look for is their experience. Expertise will not be fostered if your tattoo artist is not experienced in creating detailed designs. When looking for artists, look at their tattoo catalog to see if they have made complicated tattoos before. If you have a chance, try asking the artist how long they’ve been making tattoos and what are their favorite tattoos to make. This will give you an idea of how long they have been working in the industry.
The location of your tattoo artist is a factor that not a lot of people consider. However, if you think about it, it would save you a lot of money if you go to a nearby tattoo artist that can make your wolf design and at the same time, give high-quality tattoos. But that’s not the main reason why location is important. If there is anything that you need to consult about or add on your wolf tattoo, the tattoo studio will be easily accessible to you.
Another important characteristic your tattoo artist should have is cleanliness. When it comes to cleanliness, look at two things, the studio’s and the artist’s workspace. Tattoo studios need to be clean because they are dealing with needles that pierce through your skin. If the area is dirty, you should think twice about getting a tattoo there.
On the other hand, the tattoo artist’s workspace is as important as the studio’s cleanliness. You don’t need a huge space for tattoo clients so it does not make any sense to not be able to maintain such a small space. The cleanliness of the workspace reflects on the tattoo artist’s hygiene and care he or she will have in creating your tattoo.
You might not think it matters, but the demeanor of your tattoo artist is important. If you’re going to be subjected to pain and discomfort, you would want to be around someone who is friendly and gentle or else you will feel less comfortable. You will notice the demeanor of the artist during the first time you visit the tattoo studio. Try talking to the artist and ask them questions about your tattoo. If they seem snobbish, then they might not be the best choice to do your tattoo.
Since wolf tattoos tend to be more detailed than common shapes and images, you should already expect your bill to be expensive. There are several factors that affect how much a tattoo will cost:
The first factor that affects the cost is the design. Obviously, more detailed designs are more expensive in much the same way that more unique designs cost more. This is because a certain level of expertise is needed in order for the artist to “draw” it on your skin. So, if your tattoo artist knows that they have done complicated designs before, their professional fee will naturally be higher than the others.
The next factor is the size. If you plan on getting a small wolf tattoo, then you can expect that it’s hard to make it detailed. If you want to lower the cost of your tattoo, your tattoo artist will advise you to stick to a simple outline of a wolf. Then again, wolf tattoos are better when they are bigger, right?
Location Of The Tattoo On Your Body
Also, although there are a lot more factors affecting the price of a tattoo, where you plan to place it affects the price. More sensitive and bony areas tend to have higher prices because of the risks and pain involved when putting the tattoo. If you want to save a little more, it is advisable to put your tattoo on more muscular areas like the arms and the legs.
Location Of The Tattoo Studio
Lastly, it’s not just the location of the tattoo on your body that affects the price. Where your tattoo studio is will also determine whether it will be more expensive than the usual tattoo price. Take, for example, tattoo studios in urban locations and tourist spots will cost more than those that are in the outskirts of huge cities.
How To Maintain Your Wolf Tattoo
Once you get your wolf tattoo, it will be your job to maintain it and to keep it looking as good as new. Of course, tattoos fade over time, but this doesn’t mean that you have to speed up the process. Follow these tips to make your wolf tattoo more alive than ever.
- Follow your tattoo artist’s maintenance advice.
How to maintain your tattoo depends on the advice your tattoo artist will give. However, most tattoo artists give almost the same aftercare tips. Just remember, that there are two things you have to focus on when you get a new tattoo. Those are avoiding infection and keeping the quality good. How you’ll achieve this depends on the tips your tattoo artist will give because they will know best how to maintain the tattoos they make.
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- Wash gently with fragrance-free soap.
During the first day of your tattoo, you are only allowed to wash it clean six hours after the tattoo appointment. Washing it off right away after the tattoo’s done might ruin the ink and the overall quality of the tattoo.
When you wash your tattoo, make sure that you start off by pouring lukewarm water over your tattoo. Then, use a fragrance-free soap to avoid allergic reactions with the ink and your skin. This soap shouldn’t also have beads that will scrub against the tattoo. Once you gently wash the tattoo, rinse it with lukewarm water again and pat dry.
- Always moisturize.
Right after the tattoo is done, most artists will put moisturizing lotion or petroleum jelly on your tattoo. This will help close the pores and seal off the ink. The chemicals in the moisturizing lotion will also reinforce the bonding of the ink and the skin so that the tattoo stays longer on your body.
Most tattoo artists will recommend continuously putting lotion on the tattoo for the first two weeks. However, to preserve the quality of your wolf tattoo, apply lotion every day.
- Never ever scratch it.
Even after a few weeks of having the tattoo, it will help a lot not to scratch it. Scratching your tattoo may cause it to bleed or you might damage the color and ink of the tattoo. This is even more dangerous when you scratch it during the first few days of having your wolf tattoo. There are a lot of bacteria on your nails and fingers that scratching (and even just touching) your tattoo can cause infection.
- Stay away from direct sunlight.
Although a lot of tourists get a tattoo when they go to the beach, it would be best to still stay away from the sun once you get your tattoo. There are two main reasons why you should.
One, is that UV rays cause discoloration. This means that your tattoo is bound to change color or fade when it is exposed to direct sunlight for more than a few minutes. Two, direct sunlight can cause the tattoo to crack. When a new tattoo is just trying to settle and dry, exposing it to the sun will not quicken the drying process – it will only cause it to crack and peel off.
- Don’t soak your tattoo.
Direct sunlight is a bad idea, and so is water exposure. If your goal is to keep your tattoo away from infection, then soaking your new tattoo in water is definitely not going to help. For one thing, there are a lot of bacteria in water and it might cause a reaction to the ink. A rule of thumb is to treat your new tattoo like a wound. So naturally, anything that you wouldn’t do to a wound should also apply to your new wolf tattoo.
- Do necessary touch-ups on your tattoo.
While this is optional, a lot of people find touch-ups necessary to preserve their tattoo or to keep it in top condition when it is healing. If you find that the tattoo has caused your skin to bleed during the first day, consult with your tattoo artist on what remedy is to be done. If healing the tattoo will cause it to break, you might have to go back to the tattoo studio to have a few adjustments.
With all the historical background and care written here, you can now have a better tattoo experience. Just remember, when you’re looking at wolf tattoos, specify the culture you’re taking inspiration from to avoid any confusion.