150 bear tattoos (and their meanings)

Bears are more than just adorable toys available in shops around the world. The shamans of the native peoples of North America thought that bears were a link to the spiritual world and they performed many rituals in their honor. In Northern European cultures, the god Odin was often portrayed as a bear.

The first humans wore skins and bear bones because they believed that this would allow them to absorb some of the physical and spiritual powers of the animal. Bears have long been associated with the native peoples of North America, who viewed these animals as incredible warriors with incredible strength, bravery and power in the face of adversity.

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In the Sioux nations, the bear was associated with healing and medicine. Legends tell that a sick bear had healed by eating the leaves of a certain plant. He was so pleased with this sudden improvement in health that he began to praise the healing powers of the plant to his Sioux brothers.

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Meanings of bear tattoos

For many people, bears have a set of characteristics that have different meanings depending on who wears the tattoo. Most often, bear tattoos symbolize:

  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Protection
  • Maternity
  • Bravery
  • Spirituality and a deep connection with nature
  • The power
  • Trust
  • Resurrection (bears emerge in spring after long period of inactivity)
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Different variations of bear tattoo designs

From the vibrant colors of a Haida tattoo (Native North American tribe) to the intricate designs of a Japanese-inspired tattoo, the components of bear tattoos can contain countless cultural elements. The most popular bear tattoo designs are:

1. Haida bear tattoos

The Haida bear tattoos come from the oldest indigenous tribe in America, the Haida, found in British Columbia, Canada and Alaska. In this culture, the bear represents motherhood, protection, spirituality and wisdom (the animal is usually associated with a former parent). The drawings of Haida bear tattoos are either red, green or black.

2. The tattoos of Teddy Bear

Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine the world without this adorable toy. The Teddy Bear was named after US President Theodore Roosevelt because of a story that he allegedly refused to kill a young black bear on a hunting expedition. Fate wanted the toy to be created by two firms working independently on both sides of the Atlantic: the American Morris Michtom and the German Steiffs. Teddy Bear’s tattoo designs represent love, affection and innocence; they are the symbol par excellence of childhood.

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3. Tattoos of claws and bearprints

Hip Hop artist Eve is known for the bear-like characteristics she wears tattooed on her chest. Tattoos of fingerprints and bear claws represent luck, stability, power and mobility.

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4. Tribal bear tattoos

The drawings of tribal tattoos have a great spiritual significance in the regions from which they come. Although the exact meaning of each tribal symbol has been lost over time, the drawings of the tribal bear tattoos generally symbolize spirituality and a deep connection with the nature and / or culture of the North American natives.

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5. Celtic Bear Tattoos

Bear tattoos with Celtic influences are deeply rooted in spirituality and paganism. Wearing a Celtic bear tattoo usually represents your connection with the natural elements, strong ties to Irish traditions and your spiritual side.

Different types of bears

a) Panda tattoos

Pandas are the rarest and most famous bears in the world. Panda tattoos represent luck, harmony and balance. Pandas have long been associated with the symbol of Yin and Yang in Chinese legends because of their characteristic black and white dress.

b) Tattoos of black bears and grizzly bears

Black bears and grizzlies have a lot in common, like the fear they cause in the hearts of humans and animals. If you wear one of these tattoos drawings, it means that you strongly identify with the powerful warrior spirit of the bear. The difference between these titans lies mainly in the color of the dress of each species: the grizzly bears are brown while the black bears are … uh … black.

c) Polar bear tattoos

Polar bears have a cultural and spiritual significance for the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. In Inuit culture, the polar bear is the earthly incarnation of the Great Spirit, Tuurngasuk. The Eskimos revere these animals for their superb hunting skills, and the Siberian Nenets believe that wearing a polar bear canine protects them from harm. The Eskimo and Inuit tribes have countless legends about the dedication and love of bears for their young. This is one of the reasons why Coca-Cola uses a polar bear in many Christmas advertising campaigns.

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d) California bear tattoos

The California bear was placed on the flag of his homonymous state in 1846, after a group of pioneers took control of a Mexican garrison, Sonoma. At the beginning of the war with Mexico, the pioneers proudly waved a hand-stitched flag depicting the Californian bear, a star and the words “Californian Republic”. Drawing has become a symbol of freedom and independence in honor of the settlers.

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e) Tattoos of koalas

Koalas are kind and quiet animals, known for their calm behavior and teddy bear appearance. In Aboriginal culture, koalas are the guardians of the earth’s memory, come out of the depths to bring wisdom to men. They are then climbed in the trees to continue to watch them. The tattoos of koalas represent connection to the land, tranquility, wisdom and protection.

f) Cartoon bear tattoos

Most cartoon bear tattoos symbolize the happy days of childhood and represent bear characters much appreciated as, for example, the adorable Winnie the Pooh. These tattoos are for the most nostalgic of us.

g) Tattoos of Gloomy, the dark bear

The Dark Bear (Gloomy) is a popular Japanese character created by Mori Chax. Gloomy often attacks his friend Pitty and all those who cross his path. He always gets out of his many quarrels.

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