Phoenix is one of the most popular and diverse mythical creatures, which existed for millennia through different cultures and civilizations. It marks the journey through life and all struggles that come with it and symbolizes rebirth. That’s because phoenixes are birds that die in ashes and rise from it, fierce and brighter than ever.
If after reading our introduction you’re still pondering about whether the phoenix tattoo is the right option for you, in this article we’ll detail the history and origin of the phoenix bird and showcase the meaning of the phoenix as your tattoo. Remember, don’t try it at home!
Origin And History Of Phoenixes
Phoenix is a vibrant, courageous, and curious bird that is known for its intense rebirth process, which includes rising from the ashes. Phoenix is also known as a firebird and as such is a perfect guardian of life, death and marks rebirth.
We all go through different processes throughout our lives, and some make us come out stronger, while the other ones make us struggle. Phoenix is the representation of that struggle, but also hope and promise that everything will be alright and that you’ll prevail eventually.
But what does the origin of this majestic and mythical bird entail? Let’s dive into ancient history and see where did the idea of the phoenix originate from.
The legend of the phoenix originates mainly from Ancient Egypt and Greece. It’s a creature from paradise, so it was ultimately believed that it can’t die. However, it can be reborn. It’s a firebird with red and yellow flames known as its feathers and wings.
Phoenix looks like a giant bird that also looks similar to an eagle or even a falcon. It has a long lifespan, for over a thousand years. However, as it approaches the end of its lifecycle, the phoenix shows the signs of aging. Some beliefs suggest that Phoenix is immortal, but it’s a more popular belief that the new Phoenix bird rises from the ashes of its predecessor that has burnt previously.
Given it’s mainly originating from Greek mythology, some documents even highlight phoenixes to be purple and originate from the city of Phoenicia, which is known for purple dyes, believed to be inspired by the phoenixes. The color was also believed to be royal, worn by kings.
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The origin of Phoenix also went back to the ancient phoenix known as Bennu, which was considered the solar birth of the Gods. It was the protector of the pharaohs, and the ultimate symbol of immortality, life, and rebirth. There were also other phoenix birds identified throughout ancient Egyptian history.
According to the Ancient documents which detail this majestic bird, phoenixes were the guardians of the empire. Phoenix was believed to be the symbol of the ancient Chinese Empress, while also marking elegance, feminity, fragility, and delicateness.
The phoenix was also used as the protector of several personality traits, including courage, reliability, trust, empathy, and kindness.
Feng-Huang is a mythical phoenix that symbolizes the time of harmony and ascent to the throne of the new emperor.
Also Read: 30+ Amazing Chinese Tattoo Designs With Meanings
Phoenix Tattoo: The Meaning
There are a lot of meanings of phoenixes, and as such, their tattoos too. Most of the phoenix meanings in a tattoo can be associated with death, life, rebirth, destruction, and creation. Still, there are a few more meanings.
Life is one of the key meanings of the phoenix tattoo. Depending on the culture where the phoenix originates, these majestic mythical creatures can live for centuries, and sometimes for up to 1000 years. As such, phoenixes bear a lot of meanings associated with a long and life full of pleasure.
Additionally, phoenixes are the symbolism of longevity and how certain situations and events can make us even stronger than we used to be.
Analogically to life, a phoenix can be associated with death, but not in a bad context. Death with phoenixes doesn’t mark the end, but the beginning of a new life.
Perhaps, you’ve changed a lot about your life, you’ve moved to another country, finished a university, changed a career, or got promoted. The tattoo can be represented as the death of your past and the rebirth of something new, a new life path that you’re going to follow from now on.
The symbolism of rebirth can be combined with both the symbolism of life and death. Phoenix’s main trait is rebirth. It can be seen as persisting and being brave, regardless of the odds that you are facing. Despite the hardships, you’re going to rise from the ashes, and your most prominent traits will show who you truly are.
The rebirth symbolism stems from many cultures. A lot of people show strength in getting above the challenges and difficulties that they face, like a difficult breakup, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, feeling homesick after migrating, and more.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, we change throughout our entire life, and after a few years, we can’t say that we’re the same person from a few years ago. However, it’s important to know how to use those years to grow.
Phoenix can mark the growth in the career or educational plan. It can also symbolize harmony that comes with getting married or having children.
Finally, growth also means letting go and burying the toxic traits that have been slowing you down in the past. That can also include mental illness such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, and others.
Phoenixes, being the creatures surrounded by fierce flames can also symbolize the warmth of the sun. According to Greek mythology, Phoenix was owned by Apollo, the God of Sun himself. With that in mind, a phoenix tattoo can symbolize the warmth of your heart and soul.
In ancient Chinese culture, phoenixes can symbolize harmony. The harmony can also be a synonym with a balance, meaning our health balance, or emotional balance with ourselves or our significant other.
Particularly in the Chinese culture, Phoenix-driven balance means the harmony between two people who are in love and at peace with one another.
Where to Place A Phoenix Tattoo?
Undoubtedly, a phoenix tattoo would look great anywhere. However, it’s important to consider your proportions when choosing the right spot for your tattoo. With that in mind, you can’t put a giant phoenix that would look great on your back, on your calf, or wirst, on the other hand, placing a small phoenix on your back or thighs could be ridiculous unless you combine it with other art.
Here are the positions you should consider:
13 Best Phoenix Tattoo Design Ideas
As you saw before, the phoenix is the sign of life, death, and rebirth. This immortal and mythical bird that spends thousands of years traveling the night sky and bringing the dawn has inspired a lot of tattoo designs. Let’s check our favorites out. Perhaps, it’d be the perfect inspiration for your next tattoo.
1. Phoenix Card Tattoo
If you’re a fan of card games and want to combine other elements that symbolize the same things as the phoenix does, you should consider getting this tattoo. It’s more illustrational, but the colors are vivid and perfectly depict the fierce nature of phoenixes.
There are also the elements of skulls, fire, and others, but we’re sure that you could replace those elements with some others. If illustrations like this one attract you, you should make sure to contact your tattoo artist and show them this design.
2. Small Phoenix Tattoo
Even though fierce red, orange, and yellow patterns characteristic for phoenixes are their trademarks, it’s also possible to make a phoenix that won’t have so many prominent colors, or will even be made with pure black ink. Such is this design, which can be added to your wrist, arm, forearm, and more. Of course, similar to this design could be made bringer, but this one looks tiny as a button and quite attractive.
Regardless of its smaller size compared to the other phoenix designs that we listed, we certainly think this one stands out. Additionally, the innocent peacock-like look remains prominent on this one.
3. Tiny Phoenix Tattoo
If the aforementioned design wasn’t small enough for you, you should try this design out. It looks attractive, feminine, and quite minimalistic. It is also a simple design that will appeal to tattoo enthusiasts who are afraid of needles and don’t want to go to multiple tattoo sessions to get the right tattoo.
This is pure black ink, but you could also add some other dyes to your liking. This design can go anywhere, but it looks great on arms, wrists, chest, or even a thigh or knee.
4. Back Phoenix Tattoo
And now, let’s talk about serious designs, for the true tattoo lovers. There is no better way to describe your love for phoenixes as well as the admiration of these mythical creatures than by making a huge tattoo on your back. On this design, you can see a phoenix battling other mythical creatures such as mythical tigers and dragons.
This design is nowhere near to make and can take as little as three sessions and sometimes even more. Not to mention that it’ll take a longer time to heal than the other tattoo designs. Nevertheless, it looks passionate, fierce, and demonstrates the crimson beauty of majestic phoenixes.
5. Arm Sleeve Phoenix Tattoo
Phoenix tattoos are rarer than other mythical tattoo designs. That’s why picking the right pattern for a sleeve tattoo can be difficult. However, finding this design and admiring it for a little while made us show appreciation to attention to detail to this level. This phoenix keeps the elements of a peacock, eagle, and other birds, with special attention to the peacock feathers. There is a high prominence to a lot of vibrant and vivid colors that give an extra charm to the tattoo.
Your tattoo of choice may not look the same, but always make sure to pick colors that will go well and give a nice contrast to other tattoos that you plan to add to your sleeves. Make sure to add some clouds or even the sun as an element in this tattoo.
6. Floral Phoenix Tattoo
There is no gender preference when it comes to phoenix designs, but nothing stops you from adding a few flowers here and there. Phoenixes seem brave and fearless, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t feel fragile and delicate. The selection of the right flowers for your flowery phoenix patterns is crucial. This design shows a combination of fragility and fearless phoenix which goes well together.
The design can also be done in black and white ink, but then it’d go well with roses or some other large flowers. Additionally, this tattoo can also look great on other positions such as the back or upper side.
7. Back/ Shoulder Phoenix Tattoo
This phoenix says don’t mess with me. It can hint at great power, the connection of life, death, and rebirth. However, it can also be about feeling fearless and confident. It can also hint at warmth. This particular tattoo looks great on the back, with great attention to detail and attention to being accurate.
Undoubtedly, this tattoo pattern would look great with more color too. Research and experiment with back/shoulder designs that are neither too small, nor too big, while emphasizing that you want others to know that you’re strong, tough and that no one should mess with you.
8. Chest Phoenix Tattoo
Phoenixes are, as mentioned above, a popular choice for chest tattoos. This smaller phoenix, surrounded by burning flames is spreading its wings wide and far, being fearless and majestic as described in various legendary tales.
Smaller phoenix designs look great, but they may be harder to make due to the ink leaking and the right, fitting shape. This design looks majestic and goes well with different colors and patterns.
9. Roaring Phoenix
This phoenix wants to hear you roar. Like you can see, white phoenixes surrounded by flames and dark backgrounds also look great. We salute the artist for creativity and great attention to detail. This tattoo adds another depth to the design and manifests a phoenix that has just risen from the flames.
You can combine it with stronger and more accented flames in the background, add the sun, clouds, and other elements. Also, sleeve tattoos are great when they combine more creatures and symbols. Consider different options and see how they could work for you.
10. Phoenix Battling A Dragon Tattoo
Phoenix and dragons are two popular nemeses because they are both the masters of the sky, so it doesn’t surprise us that someone came up with an idea of their battle. Either way, this design can take a long time to complete and is quite difficult in the process.
If you have an idea for any tattoo design that involves a phoenix battling another creature, and you want it to contain other elements in it, you should talk to your tattoo artist and see if they are even capable of pulling something similar.
11. Ice Phoenix Sleeve Tattoo
The phoenixes look majestic even when they are pulled into a second plan. This phoenix inside a sleeve tattoo looks prominent and easily grabs attention even if it’s not in the first plan. Nevertheless, this tattoo can be hard to combine with others, based on the shape, other symbols, and colors you’re planning to use.
This particular design looks like a phoenix is currently rising from the flames and rebirthing itself, so that can serve as an inspiration for your next tattoo.
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12. Leg Sleeve Phoenix
Earlier in the article, we emphasized that phoenixes make a great leg sleeve. This option is a great design for those who wanted to fit a phoenix across the entire leg but didn’t know-how. It uses simplistic black ink, and yet the tattoo looks expensive and luxurious.
If you’re planning to do a tattoo similar to this one, take into account that it’ll take some time, and it could even hurt in the process.
13. Phoenix Wings
Phoenix wings look majestic and this tattoo just gives them an additional hue and colorful contrast of fire tones. This phoenix is detailed, colorful, and tough-looking. It took a pair of skilled hands to make, and a lot of time.
This design would look great on the back, but you can also add it to your sides, hip or leg.
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Phoenix Tattoo: More FAQs
Let’s agree that there are a lot of beautifully-looking phoenix tattoo designs, but it’s up to you and your preferences what you want. Here are answers to some questions that may have bothered you, before getting a phoenix tattoo.
How Long Does It Take To Make A Phoenix Tattoo?
The biggest determining factor is how big is the tattoo and too detailed. If you’re looking for a simple and minimalistic design, it won’t take more than one session. If you are looking for a painting-style tattoo or a sleeve, it’ll require several sessions that can last up to several hours.
Does Getting A Phoenix Tattoo Hurt?
Similarly to the question above, it depends on the design. Complex and more detail-oriented can take longer to design. However, time and pain are usually worth it in the end. Make sure to talk about what makes you feel uncomfortable with your tattoo expert, as a needle can be quite unsettling when you’re getting a tattoo for the first time.
You can know more details through Tattoo Pain Chart: What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place
How Much Does The Phoenix Tattoo Cost?
Some more affordable options can cost from $50 to $100. However, if you’re looking for a larger and more colorful tattoo it can cost several hundreds of dollars. You can know more details on tattoo costs here. Or you can consider a temporary tattoo instead.