Throughout human history, the heart has represented numerous ideas. In ancient Egypt, for example, the heart represented truth, rather than love. The Greeks actually believed that all thought and feelings originated in the heart, completely discounting the brain! Today, though we obviously know that thought (and emotions) dwell only in the brain, we still give the heart sentimental value in terms of feelings. The stylized shape is usually colored red, probably signifying the blood that pumps in and out of the heart every single minute. It also is typically seen as a feminine symbol.
Today, people get heart tattoos in any number of different designs. Each is intended to symbolize something special to each person. Here’s a brief description of each heart design:
The Dagger: A heart with a dagger going through it is generally a symbol of betrayal or mistrust.
The Sacred Heart: The sacred heart is surrounded by the Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore on the Cross. The spines digging into the heart represent the pain and suffering that Jesus felt while enduring that hardship.
Two Broken Hearts: This is one of the most popular variations of the heart tattoo. Couples that will be apart for an extended period of time often each get one half of a broken heart, to symbolize their devotion to each other, and the idea that when they come together, their hearts will be one. When one person wears both halves, it might mean they have endured a broken heart sometime in the past.
The “Mom” Heart: This one is famous in prisons and biker gangs across the world. Many people feel that showing devotion to the woman that created them is the most important tattoo they can get. Importantly, your mother never changes, while that heart tattoo you have with the initials of your ex-girlfriend from college probably doesn’t make your wife very happy.
The Pierced Arrow: The heart with an arrow piercing through is a symbol of directed energy. This is Cupid’s sting of love.
Anatomical Design: This heart design is relatively new, and moves far past the typical symbolical nature of the heart tattoos of the past. These tattoos have often have stitches or a band aid, which indicates that the heart has healed. Anatomical tattoos are popular with survivors of heart disease.
Beyond these examples, you can take the heart tattoo in any direction you desire, and create your own personal symbolism. Perhaps flames escape out of the top of your heart, creating the effect of a heart on fire for someone else. Whichever design you decide to place on your body, make sure that you take the time to think about the repercussions. Tattoos are more or less permanent, while relationships are not. Don’t let a spur of the moment romance leave a heart on your body that turns into a scar, rather than a symbol of happiness and love.