Compass Rose Tattoos: Symbolism and Designs

Compass rose tattoos have existed for a very long period of time. They are designed in a variety of different shapes and forms, and usually have a deep meaning to them. In this Buzzle article, we will learn more about this artistic and meaningful tattoo design.
Did You Know?
The compass rose has been used as a navigational tool since the 14th century. Originally, there are 32 different points on the compass rose, which represent the wind and direction. It is called a compass rose, as these points look like the petals of a rose.
Since olden times, compass rose tattoos have always been the domain of sailors, and hence, they are also, at times, referred to as nautical compass rose tattoos. Seamen believed that these tattoos would bring them good luck, and at the same time ensure that they made it back to the shore alive.

Today, many enthusiasts get this pattern inked on their bodies in a variety of different designs. It has become one of the most common tattoo designs, and is believed to symbolize a number of different things. In the following lines, we shall first look at the different meanings that the compass rose tattoo holds, and then look at some of its most popular design patterns.

Tattoo Meanings

Although these tattoos were used by sailors, for the modern-day tattoo aficionados, there are many other meanings attached to this particular design. To some it stands for focus, reminding the wearer of the tattoo to focus on the future and let bygones be bygones. This is especially associated with moving ahead after a rocky and tumultuous relationship.

To others it signifies leaving behind an addiction, or a difficult past, starting life afresh, and looking forward to the wonderful things that life has to offer.

In case someone has drifted away in life without any direction or goal to pursue, such a tattoo can be a reminder, that to achieve anything in life one needs to have the right direction.

This tattoo design can also be about remembering, honoring, and learning from the past, and at the same time looking forward and being open to whatever the future holds for the person.

Tattoo Design Patterns

In the most basic form of this design, there are four cardinal directions which point to the north, south, west, and east. These cardinals are placed in their appropriate positions around a circular base. Often, the inside of the compass rose is filled with an ornate star, which is seen as a symbol of the North Star, that has been used as a principal navigational tool by sailors and wanderers since ages.

North Star
North Star

In modern times, there are changes which have come about in the basic tattoo design. Instead of the nautical star at the center of the tattoo, personal zodiac signs, symbols, or characters are being used. These can be taken from the western or eastern astrological characters.

Zodiac Compass Rose
Zodiac

Kanji characters can also be used to add greater depth to the personal meaning attached to the tattoo design. Commonly, the characters used are often universal themes, such as love, peace, truth, etc. It can also be some other symbol which is closer to the heart of the wearer.

Kanji Compass Rose
Kanji

You can also be innovative with your tattoo design. For instance, you can turn this tattoo into a sun-shaped symbol, and use the extended rays as the four cardinal directions.

Sun Compass Rose
Sun

There are also a number of Celtic and tribal tattoo designs which can be incorporated. Originally, the colors which were used to ink these tattoos were basic blues, browns, gray, and black.

Celtic Compass Rose
Celtic

Now, a number of different color combination such as peach and medium-green, pink and purple, yellow and peach, teal-blue and green, etc., are popularly used.

Tribal Compass Rose
Tribal

The compass rose tattoo is ideally placed either on the back or on the upper arm. Along with the nautical star, these are some of the most elegant, beautiful, and meaningful tattoo designs around.