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Butterfly Tribal Tattoos

Insects are not the most popular tattoo design, but butterflies are an exception. Butterfly tattoos are a feminine kind of tattoo and come in a great variety of shapes and sizes: colorful or black, stylized or real (like a monarch butterfly tattoo). They are the 4th most popular tattoo design, after tribal, star and cross tattoos and they are probably the most popular design for women and girls.


The butterfly tattoo is pretty and feminine without being overly flowery or sentimental. Butterflies have always been an inspiration for visual arts, such as the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt a couple of thousand years ago.

Butterfly tattoos are a good choice for a first tattoo because the design doesn’t need to be big to be striking. A small butterfly tattoo (life sized or smaller) on an ankle or shoulder can be a pretty and graceful accent to your natural beauty.

The most popular spots for a butterfly tattoo are:

  • Back & Lower back
  • Upper arm
  • Shoulder
  • Abdomen
  • Foot

They are often combined with other imaginary like:

  • Tribal ornaments
  • Swirly and curly lines
  • Flowers (go here for our flower tattoo designs)
  • Hearts (go here for our heart tattoo designs)
  • Stars (go here for our star tattoo designs)

Butterfly designs can have a lot of meanings, depending on the person or culture. Here’s an overview:


  • Often a butterfly tattoo is a symbol of rebirth and transformation: the “ugly” and slow caterpillar transforms inside its cocoon to the beautiful creature that a butterfly is. Having a tattoo of a butterfly symbolizes a new life, a new beginning after having gone through some rough times.
  • Delicate beauty: a butterfly is small and very delicate, but also very colorful and full of beautiful details. On the other hand, it is not so delicate like most people think: contrary to the widespread belief, you can’t kill a butterfly by touching its wings.
  • A butterfly tattoo can be a symbol of freedom.
  • In some cultures, like the Christian, the butterfly symbolizes a person’s soul. The Greek word for butterfly for example, also means soul.
  • In Japan they believe that if a butterfly flies into your guestroom, the person you love the most will come to you soon.
  • Also in Japan, a large swarm of butterflies is seen as a bad omen.
  • The Russian word for butterfly resembles the word for grandmother.
  • In China, two butterflies fluttering together are a symbol for love.
  • In some cultures it means good luck when a butterfly lands on you (imagine the luck you’ll be having when you have one on you permanently).
  • The phrase “having butterflies in your stomach” is a way of saying you are in love (or just very very nervous).
  • For the ancient Aztecs, butterflies were the souls of deceased warriors or women who died while giving birth.
  • For some people a butterfly means peace.
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