Elephant Head Tattoos
Elephants are such interesting creatures.
They are the largest land animals alive today, and there’s nothing else quite like an elephant.
Standing on 4 tree trunk legs with gray, wrinkled skin, they walk with a slow, swaying rhythm- a sort of laid back determination.
Distinctive to elephants are their massive heads.
There’s something about an elephant’s head we seem to love as part of art, logos, and of course the popular elephant head tattoo.
What is it about elephant heads that has captivated us so much?
Is it the large floppy ears, the long bendy trunk, or those gorgeous pointy tusks?
Whatever it is, these tattoos are gorgeous and certainly no passing fad. There’s something so expressive about an elephant.
They are as elegant as they are adorable, and as sensitive as they are intimidating.
Elephant Head Tattoos Are Versatile
Another nice thing about elephants is, depending on the imagery you choose, you can make your elephant head tattoo specific to your culture.
So many cultures have beliefs about elephants that can be incorporated into a beautiful design.
And if your culture doesn’t have much to say about these creatures, a simple elephant head is majestic enough on its own!
What’s Distinctive to an Elephant’s Head?
There’s nothing on an elephant’s head that isn’t there for a reason.
These big fellas may be aesthetically pleasing, but their unique physical attributes are all functional.
Elephant trunks are almost pure muscle.
They are an elephant’s most important appendage and are used for touching, grabbing, and making noise.
Elephants also use their trunks to suck in water.
This can come in handy on hot days, when they make mud packs to protect their skin from the sun’s rays.
When an elephant goes swimming, its trunk sticks up from the water to act as a snorkel. Genius!
Made of Ivory, Elephant tusks can be used to cut through brush, mark territory, or sometimes fight.
An elephant’s ears can be used to cool down their bodies with a flapping motion.
They are also full of blood vessels that carry heat away from the elephant’s massive body.
Elephant Head Tattoo Meanings
The answer to this may be different depending on your culture.
Because elephants are so fascinating to look at, many cultures have their theories about these great beasts.
Since they hail from Asia and Africa, many of our beliefs about elephants come from these cultural practices and religions.
Elephants in African Spirituality
Elephants are incredibly wise creatures. They can use tools, mimic human voices, and recognize languages.
They visibly show empathy in their community and with humans, and they even hold funeral services for their dead.
Because of this, they’ve become a symbol of wisdom in Africa.
Due to their massive size and physical capabilities they are also a symbol of strength.
African elephants may also symbolize royalty, good luck, and patience.
Elephants in Buddhism
When Buddha’s mother was pregnant, she had a powerful dream about an elephant.
She dreamed that a pure white elephant offered her a lotus flower, which he held in his trunk.
He then circled her body 3 times, and gently put his tusk inside her womb.
Because of this dream, elephants are thought of as Buddha’s earthly representatives.
The elephant is thought of as a symbol for the proper path to enlightenment through slow, determined action and great focus.
Elephants are also very loyal to their companions, and represent being of service to your community as a Buddhist.
Elephants in Hinduism: Ganesha
Even with a passing knowledge of Hinduism, you are likely familiar with Ganesha, the Hindu god with the elephant’s head.
There is, naturally, a story of how the god got this way. It all started with a nice lady who was trying to have a little privacy.
Parvati, the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and divine strength, was having a nice long bath.
She was accustomed to being interrupted during her bath time by her husband Shiva, the destroyer.
So she made a little baby out of mud (as you do) and placed it at the entrance to their palace.
When Shiva tried to enter, the child forbade him to do so. Enraged, Shiva cut off the baby’s head.
Parvati was so grief stricken and upset she found the first animal she could and cut off it’s head, placing it on top of her child’s lifeless body.
The child was then reborn as Ganesha and granted the elephant’s infinite wisdom.
As a newly minted god, Ganesha came to be the most recognizable deity in Hinduism and is celebrated in all different expressions of the faith.
He is a patron of the arts and scientists, a remover of obstacles, and the quintessential representation of divine wisdom.
Elephants in Western Culture
The Disney movie Dumbo has given elephants an adorable association with self love and confidence.
Dumbo may be different, but what makes him different also gives him special abilities!
Dumbo also makes use of the old phrase “seeing pink elephants,” wherein people in a drunken delirium used to say they hallucinated ridiculous, other worldly beings.
Perhaps a pink elephant head would be a nice way to celebrate your sobriety!
Common Themes in Elephant Head Tattoos
Decorated Elephant Head Tattoos
To see an elephant head tattoo decorated with gold jewelry, henna style designs or bright paint is likely a reference to the Indian Elephant Festival in Jaipur City.
It is a day to drive away evil, forgive past hurts, and forget mistakes that have been made.
Sometimes debts are even forgiven on this holy day.
Elephant Raised Trunk Tattoos
An elephant raised trunk tattoo is usually seen as a good luck symbol.
Elephant Head Tattoos with Flowers
Elephants are the gentle giants of the animal kingdom.
If you appreciate elephants for their sweet dispositions and intelligence, reflect that with a fun floral motif.
We love the mix of shape and texture in these pieces- the grandiose feeling of an elephant, mixed with the delicate beauty of a fragile bloom.
Elephant Skull Tattoos
Two Elephants with Trunks Linked
This can be a lovely tattoo for someone who wants to celebrate a bond with someone they love.
Elephant Head Tattoo Designs
Want an elephant head tattoo, but still narrowing down your aesthetic?
Here are a few designs you’ll never forget.
Black & Grey Elephant Head Tattoos
Black and grey is a versatile style. In this genre, tattoos can be closer to portraiture, stylized, or some combination of techniques.
The thing that defines a black and grey tattoo is that it’s done with “washes” of black ink, diluted to different shades of grey, then layered to create depth and dimension.
Black and grey may be the perfect style to bring out an elephant’s signature crinkles and wrinkles in a realistic way.
But there’s plenty of fun to be had with other designs as well.
Watercolor Elephant Head Tattoos
Watercolor tattoos are splashy and creative.
The style is a wonderful choice for animal tattoos because the designs embody a feeling of movement.
There’s something celebratory in a watercolor tattoo.
Even if it’s not the most realistic portrayal, it captures the majesty of well-loved creatures.
A watercolor elephant head tattoo is sure to stand out from the herd.
Black-work Elephant Head Tattoos
Black-work tattoos have a high visual impact.
They’re extremely satisfying to the eye because of their use of contrast.
A black-work elephant head tattoo will feature creative interplay between negative space and sections of dark, saturated black.
It’s a powerful look for a powerful animal.
There’s a lot of versatility within this style, so your artist can create something truly unique.
Geometric Elephant Head Tattoos
Geometric tattoos play with symmetrical shapes and lines that, together, create one large image.
Most tattoo designs are compatible with a geometric approach, so you can combine techniques to create something completely new.
We’ve seen a lot of geometric watercolor mash-ups, which are so visually interesting because of the dichotomy between rigid lines and flowing color fills.
An elephant head is an inherently interesting shape, and one you’ll recognize immediately.
Breaking it down into its basic geographical components makes for a really neat effect.
It’s an original design that you won’t see too often.
Ornamental Elephant Head Tattoos
Have you heard the expression “don’t gild the lily”?
Well, that concept doesn’t apply here.
The ornamental style is very compatible with elephant head tattoos because it’s a highly decorative style.
When the two come together, it’s reminiscent of the painted elephants in Asian countries.
If you have some tie to Indian culture, this can be a wonderful and original tribute to your heritage.
In an ornamental elephant head tattoo, every last detail is adorned with beautiful details and decorations.
When done by a skilled hand, it’s breathtaking rather than gaudy or overwhelming.
Perfect for someone who loves to live life out loud, who isn’t afraid to be bold.
Illustrative Elephant Head Tattoos
Illustrative tattoos have a smooth, painterly effect.
They can be beautiful and ethereal, or a little more light-hearted.
If you want a cool and artistic design, there’s a lot of versatility within this style.
The main calling card of an illustrative elephant head tattoo will be that it looks drawn or painted.
These tattoos are not meant to be 2D like an American Traditional tattoo designs, but they also shouldn’t look photorealistic.
They’re a perfect choice for someone with an artsy streak.
Dot-work Elephant Head Tattoos
Dot-work, also known as a stippling or pointillism effect, is a clever choice for an animal with so much texture.
A dot-work elephant head tattoo is artistic and somewhat abstract, but it reflects the essence of the creature.
In a dot-work design, thousands of dots join together to create an image, rather than long lines or color fills.
This is an interesting approach to depth and shading and is incredibly pleasing to the eye.
Neo-traditional Elephant Head Tattoos
A combination of American Traditional, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Japanese woodblock prints, there’s a lot to love about Neo-traditional tattoos.
Neo-traditional animal portraits are very popular on the tattoo scene because they’re expressive and fun, usually somewhat realistic with whimsical fantasy additions.
We love the Neo-traditional style for elephant head tattoos because they can be everything an elephant is: playful and cute but also regal and enchanting.
Single Needle Elephant Head Tattoos
Single needle tattoos can be light and airy, but some artists are skilled enough to create light and shading within a single line tattoo.
They will always have a feathery, pencil light quality because they are executed with a thin tattoo needle.
Most tattoos are done with a variety of lines and shaders, each a bundle of a specific type of needle.
These tattoos are done with a single needle, so they resemble sketches.
A single line elephant tattoo is a nice choice for someone who likes visual impact and wants an interesting piece, but doesn’t want to be too flashy about it.
Graphic Elephant Head Tattoos
One of the hottest tattoo techniques, as mentioned above, is to combine harsh symmetrical lines with softer, more organic subject matter.
This is one of the many techniques you may see in a graphic tattoo.
Graphic tattoos combine several art styles to create one stunning piece.
One Line Tattoos
In a one-line tattoo, your artist has to portray an elephant’s head with only one continuous line.
These tattoos fascinating to look at, partially because you don’t often see this much negative space in a tattoo.
It’s a simple design, but unforgettable.
Sketchy Elephant Head Tattoos
Have you ever looked at a sketch for something and admired its “rough around the edges” quality?
You aren’t alone, because this sketch-book style is becoming a popular look on the tattoo scene.
Sketchy tattoos feel vibrant and artistic the way a watercolor tattoo does, but they usually play it a little safer with color.
They look ripped from the pages of a sketchbook, hence the name.
If you aren’t a fan of the traditional bold lines in classic tattoos, this is a fun & contemporary direction to go in.
Etching tattoos are meant to resemble wood carvings.
This style is a unique, graphic approach to tattooing. An etching elephant head tattoo is going to be a striking one.
It’s similar to the sketchy style, but with a more solid, 3D effect.
Etching tattoos will capture the raw power of an elephant.
If you admire this animal for its sheer magnitude, consider a bold etching design.
“Contemporary” is a term that encompasses any fresh and innovative techniques in the world of tattoo.
Elephants are an instantly recognizable animal, even if you get a little more abstract with your execution.
Contemporary tattoos are an exciting way to make sure your elephant head tattoo is unlike any other.
Elephant Head Tattoo Ideas
Thinking of getting an elephant head tattoo?
The possibilities are endless.
Narrow it down with some ideas from our tattoo gallery!
Simple Elephant Head Tattoos
Because of their recognizable silhouette, elephant head tattoos can be as simple or as detailed as you like.
We love these simple designs for someone who wants some ink but doesn’t want to look like a coloring book. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that if you do!)
Small Elephant Head Tattoos
You don’t have to go life-size on your elephant head tattoo.
Sometimes a small tattoo design has so much visual appeal because it doesn’t draw the eye all over the place, and it can fit on any part of your body you choose.
Good things can come in small trunks.
Elephant Head Tattoos On Thigh
Your thigh is a nice, fleshy area that makes the perfect canvas for a cool tattoo.
Most people have enough real estate on their thigh for a pretty rad, detailed design.
Bonus: You can hide your ink at work and show it off at the beach.
Elephant Head Tattoos On Chest
Elephant heads are a natural fit for chest pieces.
The shape of your breastplate is the perfect home for wide ears and long tapered trunk.
Go bold and take up space with this dazzling design.
Large Elephant Head Tattoos
The larger a tattoo design is, the more fun you and your artist can have with details and custom additions.
Elephants are the largest living land mammal, so you’ll never go too big with a large elephant head design.
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