Dove Tattoo Meaning: Everything About The Dove Symbol

March 7, 2022
Max Stevens

The dove is undeniably one of the most famous symbols used in modern tattooing. The reason why the dove permeated the cultural zeitgeist lies in its rich history, which established it as one of the most recognisable visuals worldwide. 

A dove tattoo is rarely performed in a flashy or exuberant manner, as it usually signifies values that are polar opposite. 

Before we get into what a dove tattoo can represent, we should first acknowledge its potent historical significance.

Dove Tattoo on Arm

The Cultural Importance Of The Dove

The dove is an intrinsic part of several cultural traditions, including Ancient Greek mythology, Aztec lore, Native American folklore, and Christianity. 

The Dove In Ancient Greek Mythology 

Aphrodite, the goddess associated with love, passion, beauty and pleasure, was driven in a chariot pulled by doves. Her primary avian symbol was also associated with this bird. 

Aphrodite’s daughters were also sometimes referred to as a flock of doves. 

The Dove In Aztec Mythology

One of the most influential female deities in Aztec mythology was Xōchiquetzal (a goddess of love, beauty and fertility). She was frequently depicted as a dove.

The Dove In Native American Mythology

Several Native American tribes believed that doves were reincarnated spirits, and some people continue to respect this tradition by tattooing this sacred symbol. 

The Dove In Christianity 

The dove is one of the most commonly used symbols in Christianity, and the most important mention of the dove comes from the biblical story of Noah. 

Before the flood, God instructed Noah to assemble a great ark and gather all animals in pairs so that the world could continue after the devastating deluge. 

Once the flood subsided, Noah sent a dove from the ark to search for land. The dove returned with an olive branch in its talons, signalling that land was found and that everything would return to normal.

Another example of the dove in Christianity is that Jesus was depicted surrounded by a flock of doves. These doves were regularly used to carry messages from the divine.

What Does A Dove Tattoo Represent?

A dove tattoo can represent many things, but the core message is typically love, peace, positivity, hope and renewal.

A Dove Can Represent Devotion

Tattooing a dove can also convey a message of devotion, commitment and loyalty, primarily in a romantic sense. This is because doves mate for life and raise their young together, which is extremely rare in the animal world.

A Dove Can Represent A Fresh Start 

Since a dove found land in the biblical story of Noah, dove tattoos are used to symbolise new beginnings and renewal.

A Dove Can Represent Victory 

A dove tattoo holding an olive branch (either in its talons or its beak) is a powerful message of perseverance over hardship, symbolising both victory and success. 

A Dove Can Represent Family

Since doves have lifelong partners, they are a powerful symbol of commitment. Therefore tattooing a dove (especially a mated pair of doves together) is a clear representation of assurance for your family. 

Now that we’ve covered what a dove tattoo can represent, we can move on to using the dove combined with other symbolic elements.

Dove Freedom Tattoo

The Dove Symbol With Other Elements

Combining multiple symbols allows us to add complexity to our tattoos, and the dove is no exception to this rule. 

Here are some famous examples of how the dove tattoo is combined with other elements.

Incorporating The Dove With Other Christian Symbols

praying hands and dove tattoo on man's bicep
Dove Tattoo

Many devoted Christians choose to combine the dove tattoo with other well-known symbols of their faith, including praying hands, the cross, or an artistic depiction of Jesus. 

Combining The Dove With A Negative Symbol

Since the dove is understood as a generally positive symbol, combining it with an overtly negative symbol produces a balancing yin-yang effect. 

One of the most popular ways of incorporating a dove tattoo with a negative symbol is by adding a hand grenade to the artwork, one of the most destructive contemporary symbols.

Combining The Dove With Celtic Art

Adding Celtic symbols to a dove tattoo completely changes the artwork’s overall symbolism. In Celtic mythology, the dove represents a sign of things yet to happen.

Combining The Dove With Japanese Art

In Japanese folklore, doves directly correlate with the God of War, and in this style, a dove is usually depicted with a sword, which symbolises the end of the conflict. 

Changing The Color Of The Dove

Coloring the dove to black completely changes the tone and meaning of the dove tattoo, as black birds typically represent transformation.

Opting for a black dove tattoo is an excellent choice for anyone who has drastically changed their life path.

A Double Dove Tattoo

two doves facing each other on man's chest
Two doves Tattoo Source:

While a single dove usually represents the individual’s personal beliefs in question, two doves are much better suited as a symbol of affection and love for your significant other. 

Since they are a powerfully elegant symbol of love, a double dove tattoo is popular for newlyweds.

Where To Get A Dove Tattoo?

A dove can be drawn in many different styles, allowing it to be placed almost anywhere on the body. 

Small minimalist designs are an excellent choice for anyone looking for a subtle or discrete dove tattoo, but the dove can also be used for a large and intricate tattoo design.

Large dove tattoos are usually placed on the chest, thighs and back, while smaller dove tattoos can be inked almost anywhere on the body, including the neck, arms, hands and even fingers. 

Dove tattoos are considered a fantastic option for people just starting with tattoos since such designs balance symbolic values and aesthetics.

No matter what type of tattoo you’re planning to get, it’s always a great idea to carefully research the symbol, as it guarantees that you’ll pick a design that holds a special significance for you.


Max Stevens

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