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Chain Tattoo Designs, Ideas, & Meanings

Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.

Chain Tattoos

Although chain tattoos are not considered a mainstream design, you will sometimes see them worn by both men and women. Since these tattoos portray an actual chain, they are usually inked around the neck, wrist, or ankle. One of the coolest features of this design is that you can add any type of emblem or pendant to the chain.

Here, you will learn about chain tattoo meanings and view a variety of photos. We hope that you are able to find inspiration and ideas for your next tattoo venture.

Chain Tattoo Design Variations

There are many ways you can manipulate a chain design to create a unique tattoo to fit your personality.

  • Yours might stretch the entire length of your arm or you might choose to show only a couple of links.
  • The links might be delicate or beefy.
  • You can have a tattooed wrist bracelet, anklet, or necklace. If you choose to have it around your neck, it could be a chain that goes completely around the neck with a pendant in the front.
  • It might be inked in gold, silver, or copper, or you can think outside the box and get offbeat colors such as pink or green.
  • Include a pendant (or more) of your choice. Use letters, names, or religious symbols to represent things or people that are important to you. Incorporate diamonds, jewels, anchors, stones, animal emblems, keys, or anything else more.
  • Some chain tattoos are not linked. One or two links missing from the chain or consist of just a piece of chain.
  • The chain may lie straight or twist and curve.
  • A common choice for both men and women is the heart-in-chains tattoo. This design can represent different meanings, according to the wearer, like love being held back or protection from love.

Basically, if the artist is willing, you can add nearly anything you want to the design.

What Does a Chain Tattoo Mean?

What your tattoo means depends on you, but there is a wide range of common associations:

  • Protection
  • Control
  • Strength
  • Authority
  • Power
  • Incarceration
  • Unity
  • Being Grounded
  • Locked Down
  • Prisoner
  • Freedom
  • Perseverance

The two most common meanings of the chain tattoo are protection and strength. Many lock up their most valuable possessions with a chain. The chair can represent protection from anything—evil, enemies, or the world, for example. The chain can be a symbol to show perseverance through life, and strength in the dark times.

Since there is such a wide range of meanings, what the tattoo means is up to the one that wears it. In the end, the meaning of your tattoo is up to you and nobody else. Still, it's smart to check the symbolic meanings of any design before you get inked.

© 2012 Richard Ricky Hale


Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on February 17, 2012:

AE, thank you so much for all your time my dear. It is always great to hear from you. Hope you have a great day. Take care.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 14, 2012:

Wow, Another amazing hub on tattoos. The artistry is beautiful...

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on February 13, 2012:

*F, I appreciate all your input and thanks for taking the time to comment and come by.

*Frank, always good to hear from you. From a glance, some of these tattoos look just like real jewelry.

*Gypsy, thanks for dropping by my friend. Hope you enjoyed it. Interesting phrase:)

f on February 13, 2012:

Gypsy Rose Lee: Sounds as if you like them really a lot. Your next one might be a chain tattoo, then, maybe? I can see how they could get very popular, anyway.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on February 13, 2012:

Super interesting tattoos. For some reason I'm all chained up keeps running through my head. lol

f on February 13, 2012:

Frank Atanacio: Well, I can see them becoming popular because it's a sort of permanent-looking jewelry. Women especially are likely to be attracted to the idea.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 13, 2012:

You are schooling me thelyricwriter because I don't think Ive ever seen a chained tattoo...

f on February 13, 2012:

Some elegant designs. Interesting hub.

For a lady, a permanent alternative to a metal chain.