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Eye Tattoo Design Ideas and Meanings

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

Eye Tattoos: Meanings & Design Options

Eye Tattoos: Meanings & Design Options

Eyeball Tattoos

Eye tattoos—tattoos that look like eyes that is, not tattooed eyeballs (or sclera—that's a whole different topic)—tattoos of eyes are always stunning to look at. To gaze deeply into, to stare at, to contemplate. I mean, what is more eye-catching than an eye? And who couldn't use an extra (or a pair, or more)?

Simply put, a tattoo of an eye is always mesmerizing. It can represent something deep, like omniscience or attention or insight—or it can just be a beautiful bit of eye candy. If you've ever laid eyes on an eye tattoo, you were probably riveted. You probably want to see some more. So below, you will find. . .

  • a list of eye tattoo design options: ideas for how to make yours look unique.
  • different types of eyes: the eye of Horus, cat's eyes, etc.
  • an exploration of what an eye tattoo means or represents: symbolically, historically, poetically, etc.
  • a look at all the different style options for eye tattoos, with lots of examples.
Traditional Crying Eye Tattoo With Barbed Wire Eyebrow

Traditional Crying Eye Tattoo With Barbed Wire Eyebrow

Eye Tattoo Design Options

There are many different design variations to choose from, other than just a regular eye.

  • Open or shut. Wide or squinted. Crying or laughing.
  • Black-and-gray or color. Eyes look great in any color.
  • Realistic or cartoon. Check out this realistic eye by @thepodence.ink and this traditional eye by @bedirhandavidson.
  • Human, snake, goat, eagle, or cat eyes. Check out this reptile eye by @taganrog.tattoo and these tiger eyes by @tonyboii_tattoobali.
  • One eye, two, or many (like a spider or Argus-eyed). Take a look at this stack of melting eyeballs by @ink_israel.
"Real eyes realize real lies" is attributed to Tupac Shakur.

"Real eyes realize real lies" is attributed to Tupac Shakur.

What Does an Eye Tattoo Mean?

Eye tattoos can hold great symbolic value to the wearer. Eyes have been symbolic elements for most different cultures throughout history.

  • Seeing. Eyes are the most symbolic sensory organ. They represent omniscience and clairvoyance.
  • Soul. Eyes are said to be the gateways to the soul and can represent a person's soul or inner truth.
  • God. As in ancient Egypt, they have been a symbol of Christianity and God. The "Eye of God" is said to represent God looking into the souls of the faithful. In this manner, the eye tattoo can represent the soul, faith, or Christianity.
  • Judgment. Like the giant eye in the sky, eyes can represent judgment, discernment, common sense, and the ability to form intelligent conclusions.
  • Intuition. Many people have also heard of the "third eye" which represents intuition. It represents the eye of the soul and spiritual awareness.
  • Vision. Seeing what's in front of you, imagining possibilities, anticipating what's to come.
  • Prescience. The eye can also represent prophesy and the ability to foretell the future.
  • Intelligence. As one means of understanding, eyes can represent intelligence.
  • Clarity. Seeing things clearly, seeing the big picture, seeing through the veil.
  • Awakening. When the eyes open, they see all.
  • Protection. We all may have also heard the old saying, "I will keep a close eye on you." The eye can also symbolize supervision and protection.
  • Focus. If you can see your goal, you'll be much more able to achieve it.

Meanings Associated With Eyes

But keep in mind that your eye tattoo can represent what you want it to.

Life

Christianity

Focus

Protection

Soul

Clarity

Intelligence

Vision

Prophecy

Perception

Guardianship

Omniscience

How to Frame an Eye Tattoo

An eye's lovely shape makes it easy to place almost anywhere on the body. If you want to frame it, though, you have lots of options. Here are a few creative ideas.

The Eye of Horus or Eye of Ra Tattoo

The eye of Horus is an Egyptian hieroglyph. It is sometimes confused with the eye of Ra. The eye of Ra is said to represent the right eye, and the eye of Horus is the left.

The eye of Ra belongs to either the sun god or to the goddess Wadjet or Wedjat. Ra is the sun god, his power is quite close to the almighty gods of the monotheistic religions.

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The eye of Horus is the all-seeing eye of omniscience and a symbol of a god's or royal power and protection from evil and disease. It was depicted to protect royalty in the afterlife and to ward off illness. Horus was a sky god and was often known as the god with the falcon head. The markings around a falcon's eye, including the "teardrop" marking below the eye, are visible in the symbol. One legend had it that Horus battled Seth over who would rule the throne. Horus, who had the left eye of the moon and the right eye of the sun, was victorious over Seth, but lost his left eye in the battle, but the god Troth was able to restore it.

Before You Tattoo

There are some important things that you need to remember before you get any tattoo.

  • Make sure that you take the time to research your design.
  • Make sure that you completely understand what your choice represents and stands for before you follow through.
  • Don't rush to get inked! If you are not sure, don't get tattooed. Many have regrets later on down the road. Don't make the same mistake.

Comments

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on September 20, 2012:

Thank you all for your comments, time, votes, ect. Sorry for the late reply. I have been very busy yet again. I do appreciate you all for everything. See all of you soon on your side of the town. Take care.

BeyondMax from Sydney, Australia on August 24, 2012:

Though it's an unusual and colorful symbol it does leave me with an uncomfortable feeling too, like other guys before me mentioned =)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on August 17, 2012:

Of all the tattoo types you've highlighted, these are the ones that freak me out the most because it looks like the person has a third eye growing out of the skin. The easy way to minimize that feeling is to put some decoration around it, so it looks like a design rather than a true eye. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 16, 2012:

Eyes are a little creepy to me, but they are colorful and different strokes for different folks..Hee

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on August 16, 2012:

All those crazy eyes just staring. Super.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 15, 2012:

Here's looking at you thelyricwriter again awesome my friend :)

kjforce from Florida on August 15, 2012:

thelyricwriter..NOW that's scary I have to agree with unknown spy..." keeping an eye on myself "...wait for it..wait for it..I got it a new hub..." I AM MY OWN STALKER"

could not resist the humor side...you did an awesome job as usual my friend..keep'em coming and we'll keep reading..

aivzdog on August 14, 2012:

Very cool, I don't know if I could get an eye tattoo because I would feel like someone is always watching me.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on August 14, 2012:

It's scary...looks like someone is watching from somewhere. hehehe. interesting though.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 14, 2012:

Yikes, for some reason the eye tattoos are a little creepy, and I was surprised by their meanings. And, ironically, when I sketch, that is what I love to draw is just the eyes, weird. I guess it is just the eyes as tattoos maybe. Very interesting. In His Love, Faith Reaper

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