With a lucky tattoo, the iconic symbol is permanently with you. There is no risk of losing a tattoo, unlike a rabbit's foot or four leaf clover.
Luck is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a force that brings good fortune” or success. Although considered superstitious, there are symbols and objects which are believed by many to bring good luck or to ward against bad luck. Some people believe that these things are universally luck, while others believe some of these things are lucky and a person must weed out the unlucky, or non-lucky, ones in order to locate the lucky ones. These objects are sometimes called lucky charms or, simply, charms. Many carry lucky charms on them at all times, and these charms give the wearer confidence and self-assurance in their daily activities.
Lucky tattoos serve the same purpose. Tattoos, however, are far easier and much more convenient to deal with. With a lucky tattoo, the iconic symbol is permanently with you. There is no risk of losing a tattoo, unlike a rabbit's foot or four leaf clover. Losing a lucky symbol is considered disastrous; not only did you lose your source of good luck, but you've also brought about bad luck. Losing a lucky charm is worse than never having possessed a charm in the first place. A lucky tattoo guarantees that you will never lose your luck, except in the very unlikely, and relatively ironic, situation that you lose the limb or body part that is tattooed with a lucky charm. One of the first types of tattoos developed, in the prehistory of tattooing, was the lucky charm. Humans have long believed in the power of symbols and nearly every culture has a myriad of tales about languages or symbols with uncanny abilities. Tattooing symbols believed to hold special power over fate was thought to provide some of that power to the tattoo bearer, or at the very least divert bad luck from him or her. Even today, these symbols or charms are still with us, in the form of lucky pictures, or shapes or even numbers. Above is an example of several different lucky symbols. There's the lucky horseshoe, dice and Lady Luck herself as a pin-up, front and center. Gambling and luck is a common combination in tattoos, with lucky symbols juxtaposed with particular games, like little wards against losing. These symbols have far longer histories than people generally assume. Symbols are recycled from society to society. For example the horseshoe was considered lucky in Celtic areas because iron warded off fairies while the English believed that it was the traditional seven nails used to mount them, seven, of course, being a lucky number. Numbers are another recycled commodity in lucky symbols. Various cultures ascribe luck, be it good or bad, to numbers in a variety of different ways. Traditional Japanese culture considers the number four unlucky because the Japanese word for four is 'shi.' Shi is also the word for death in Japanese. There are numerous theories about why 13 is an unlucky number, ranging from the dates the Crusades set out on to the ill fortune found on Friday the 13th. To some cultures, 13 is a lucky number; the Sikh consider it an auspicious number because of a dual meaning in a Punjabi prayer. Westerners are often enthralled with ideographic languages like Chinese or Japanese. The tradition of tattooing is especially strong in Japan, where traditional prayers or folk incantations for good fortune became a tattoo theme many centuries ago. Modern tattoos in Japanese Kanji or either version of Chinese script may be the equivalent of a magic word or phrase designed to protect against supernatural molestation. These tattoos have spread into Western culture at an increasing rate in the last few decades and are not limited to just words. Chinese and Japanese cultures have their own set of lucky symbols to choose from. This is a Maneki Neko, a Japanese symbol for good fortune in business. There are several other folk icons or talismans based on ancient Chinese legends about sages and gods. Cai Shen, a god of wealth, is a Chinese equivalent to the Maneki above. Certain animals are also associated with good luck, like the Asian Qilin or certain types of Chinese dragons. There are countless different Indian gods or aspects of divinity that perform similar protective roles in their local mythologies. Although everyone could probably use a lucky symbol, those most drawn to lucky tattoos are people who face impossible odds or difficult situations on a regular basis. People who love gambling, for example, are pitted against the probability factors stacked in the house's favor. In order to win at these games, gamblers must beat the odds, which requires luck. Firemen or those in the military are constantly in harm's way and their survival depends upon several factors outside of their control. Dodging a bullet, whether literally or figuratively, is often attributed to luck. While there are individual symbols of luck, like a personal good luck charm, there are several generally accepted lucky charms. Four leaf clovers are a popular symbol that brings good luck. According to tradition, each leaf of this type of clover stands for something fortunate – fame, wealth, love, and health. In combination, the four leaf clover purportedly brings luck to all areas of life. More importantly, four leaf clover are rare. Most clover has three leaves, so finding one with four is automatically considered a sign of good luck, because you have already beaten the odds and defied probability. Four leaf clover tattoos can be independent symbols of luck, or can be incorporated into a larger tattoo design that features many symbols of good fortune. The horseshoe might be the best known lucky symbol. The horseshoe is most often depicted with the ends up, like a U, which is said to keep all the luck from spilling out. U-shaped, semi circle, and crescent shapes are often attributed as signs of good luck across cultures. Although the horseshoe is historically a British symbol of good fortune, it is known around the world today as a sign of good luck and a repellant of evil and bad luck. Usually placed above a door, horseshoe tattoos are one of the most popular within the category of lucky tattoos. Like clovers, they can be a single tattoo, or combined with many symbols in a more extensive fortune design. Oftentimes, a seductive woman, dubbed Lady Luck or Miss Fortune, and the embodiment of good luck is depicted sitting on the horseshoe. Not all luck tattoos are meant to bring good fortune, however. Many designs are intended to repel bad luck or misfortune. Rabbit's feet may seem like a weird symbol of luck, but they are very popular and are sometimes tattooed. Usually attached to a keychain and dyed bright colors, the rabbit (or hare, originally) is believed to be a ward against evil, specifically the evil eye. The evil eye is a gaze that is believed to bring harm, gossip, or bad luck to the person it falls upon. The evil eye is a very superstitious symbol or belief, and there are many ways to protect oneself from its harm. The lucky rabbit's food is one of these ways. The hamsa, hamesh, hand of God, or hand of Miriam is another way. These are designs of a palm, sometimes a hand with two thumbs (one on each side to make the hand symmetric), and typically with an eye in the center. The hamsa is popular among the Jewish community, the Muslim community, and, with increasing frequency, the Christian community. The evil eye is a symbol known around the world. Hamsa tattoos are also popular. Lucky coins, Buddha, lucky numbers (like 7 or 13, in particular), elephants, Guardian Angels, scarab beetles, keys, and lady bugs are all considered lucky by various groups of people. Luck tattoos can incorporate all or one of these symbols, as well as personal lucky charms, like a lover's name or a favorite color. Sometimes, the symbol must be designed in a certain way in order to be lucky – elephants should have their trunks raised, Buddha should be smiling or laughing, lady bugs should be red, and there should be three keys (symbolic of opening the doors to wealth, health, and love).