Dragonfly tattoos are popular for two reasons. First, the dragonfly has the same feminine aesthetic appeal as butterfly or fairy tattoos, but is decidedly less common. Second, the dragonfly, like the butterfly, is a rich source for positive symbolism and meaning. Both of these factors combine to make the dragonfly an ideal tattoo motif, particularly among women.
Dragonflies as tattoos first gained widespread popularity in the late 1990s. Butterfly tattoos were, perhaps, the most common tattoo chosen by women during this time and those who liked the image but wanted something a little more unique chose the dragonfly. Like butterflies, dragonflies are very delicate and feminine looking. They often have colorful and beautiful, though incredibly delicate, wings. This fragility and beauty makes it more appealing to women than men as a tattoo design. Dragonflies are also often tattooed with flower tattoo designs.
Symbolically, dragonfly tattoos represent good fortune, luck, success, strength (either physical or emotional), peace, tranquility, harmony, purity, and innocence. Dragonflies represent different things in different cultures. In Asia, for example, they are often symbolic of change, as they seem to be blown about by the whims of the wind. In this respect, they are quite like butterflies, too.
Dragonflies are notable for their ability to lay up to 100,000 eggs at a single time, so they are frequently symbols of fertility and rebirth. The dragonfly also has the ability to fly backwards and hover, which gives it far more maneuverability than the butterflies who are noted for their erratic flight. For this reason, dragonfly tattoos can represent freedom or the ability to adapt to change. The wind might alter the dragonfly's course, but he is perfectly capable of finding a different path to his destination.
The dragonfly's talent for adapting is furthered by his long existence. Dragonflies existed in the time of the dinosaurs and, although they are now much smaller, has not only managed to outlast the giant lizards, but lives prolifically all over the world. People going through or who have experienced difficulties and troubling times often get dragonflies to represent both their ability to thrive through painful and unpleasant circumstances and their hope for a better future. In Native American culture, the dragonfly is a spirit guide that helps lead souls and offers guidance. In fact, the dragonfly is a symbol of wisdom and divine understanding in many cultures. People looking for these influences in their own life might choose a dragonfly tattoo design as a representation of this.
Like butterfly tattoos, dragonfly tattoos are done in a variety of styles. Some dragonfly tattoos are realistic, diagrammatic illustrations of dragonflies, like those you might find in a text book or encyclopedia. These people wish to offer faithful and accurate representations of the dragonfly. They appreciate the insects natural beauty and see no need for unrealistic embellishment or superfluous decoration. Realistic dragonfly tattoos can indicate that the person likes actual dragonflies and find them fascinating in real life, rather than enjoying them for symbolic or fanciful meanings.
More commonly, though, dragonfly tattoos are stylized designs of dragonflies. They have embellished or decorative wings, more slender or graceful bodies, and unnatural but beautiful colors. Usually, people with these tattoos find the dragonfly to be a beautiful creature in theory, but also like the symbolic meanings of luck, fertility, purity, or harmony. Neither opinion is more valid and both create beautiful and impressive tattoos.
Dragonfly tattoos are more important than simply an alternative to a butterfly or fairy tattoo. They are valid, meaningful, and aesthetically pleasing tattoo designs. Each individual dragonfly tattoo might have a different personal meaning, but dragonflies tend to have positive meanings and are almost always symbolic of good things. The dragonfly has a long history and is significant in many parts of the world. For this reason, dragonfly tattoos have continued in popularity since their first prolific appearance in the tattoo world in the 1990s. They will continue to be a popular choice for those seeking a beautiful and significant tattoo design.