The sight of swallows meant that land was near, so swallows were a sign of hope and a safe trip home. The 7 mutineers who started the mutiny on The Swallow had a swallow tattooed on their chest in order to recognize each other. Swallows are a sign of overall sailing experience, every 500 nautical miles (or 5750 miles), sailors tattooed a swallow on his chest, so in the early years sailors with 1 or 2 swallows were considered very experienced due to the difficulty of sailing, making them trustworthy and valuable. Swallows were also seen as a sign of carrying the soul to heaven, carrying the soul from the murky waters to heaven.

Even though swallows tend to surround sailing, there are plenty of other meanings that attract people to the tattoo design. Two swallows represent freedom, and is popular among those who have been released from prison.
Swallow tattoos can have a wide variety of meanings, but behind each tattoo, there may be personal symbolism. Some people get them just because they can be quite attractive and there is a wide range of designs that can make them unique.

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