The dragonfly continues to be a popular choice for a tattoo, ranging from beautiful and realistic to a quirkier stylised design. But the beauty of a dragonfly makes it an obvious choice.
The dragonfly was around 300 million years ago although was much bigger than today, the largest fossil found had a 2 ½ foot wingspan. A dragonfly has two sets of wings that beat at 30 beats per second, this allows them to not only hover but also to fly backwards. They are fast too, with one being clocked flying at a whopping 36 miles per hour! They are found all over the world, apart from in Antarctica, and there are about 5000 species. Larger species are found in Central America and have wing span of up to 18cm.
Dragonflies have been used to represent fertility and rebirth which is probably because they lay up to 100,000 eggs at any one time. And whilst a dragonfly can live up to six years, it will only spend about two months as an actual dragonfly. Dragonflies will nearly always be found close to water, they start their life cycle underwater as an egg, becoming a nymph before metamorphosing into the dragonfly. As its life span as a dragonfly is relatively short it will live its life to its fullest, so has also been used to represent seizing the moment.
There doesn’t seem to be one specific meaning for a dragonfly. We’ve already mentioned that they have be used to symbolise fertility. As they are also drawn to water, it is also said to symbolize the subconscious mind and thoughts. It seems consistent throughout most cultures that are considered to represent change and self-realisation; but this makes sense considering their life-cycle. Their wings are also incredibly sensitive to the changing elements, reminding us to avoid tempestuous weather or troubled times.
Within some Native American communities, the dragonfly is seen as a protective talisman overseeing their community. Strength and happiness is where the dragonfly sits within the Japanese culture, whilst the Chinese use the dragonfly to represent prosperity and harmony.
So, it seems that the beautiful dragonfly can be used throughout the tattoo community to is represent change, freedom, peace, luck and prosperity. Being keeping the balance between our earthy world and the mystical spiritual one. It is said that if one lands on you is a deceased loved one paying you a visit, making their image potentially a good memorial tattoo.
Surprisingly its beauty has more sinister links within some European cultures and the dragonfly has been associated with the devil and evil. If you were a naughty child the dragonfly would sew your mouth shut with their claspers whilst you slept. Being called the devils darning needles. Sweet dreams folks!
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