The history of the classic anchor tattoo

Anchor tattoos go back to even before the original tattooing era of the late 1800s, and their popularity has never waned, still being hugely popular today.




Anchor tattoos were made popular by sailors and fishermen, and were often paired with mermaids, fish, sharks, nets, or boats. Basically, anything to do with the sea.


The anchor was chosen over other parts of the ship because of what it represents; safety. You only drop anchor once you make it to port. Many sailors will get an anchor tattoo after crossing the Atlantic for the first time as a traditional “right of passage”.


For some, the anchor tattoo can be used to commemorate the end of a sailor’s career as he sets his anchor down for the last time.


Symbolism of anchors


As a tattoo, the anchor goes back a couple of hundred years, but as a symbol, it goes back thousands.


In the early days of Christianity, many believers were persecuted by the Romans, and so the anchor was used as a symbol of faith, instead of the more noticeable cross.


The religious use of the anchor is called “Crux Dissimulata” and was used to decorate Christian buildings to mark them as safe houses for fellow Christians seeking refuge. Anchor symbols can still be seen to be decorating some ancient buildings and Christian catacombs to this day.


Today, the anchor represents strength and stability, with many people having “family” inscribed along with it or the name of a special someone.


Come to Chapel for an anchor tattoo


If you want a classic traditional anchor tattoo, then come see the amazing artists at Chapel Tattoo We’ve got plenty of ideas for you to have a look at with our flashcards, or you can simply have a chat about what you want and we’ll take it from there.


We’re one of the most respected and hygienic tattoo studios in Melbourne, with a friendly and professional customer service.


Give us a shout today and let’s drop anchor on your tattoo!