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Seagull Tattoo Meaning and Design: The History

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Animal Tattoo Designs, Small Seagull Tattoo Designs: Seagull Tattoo Meaning and Design: The History

Written by Joe, March 26th, 2013. Animal Tattoo Designs, Seagull Tattoo Meaning and Design: The History

It is impossible in spring, to find an ocean breeze, a coastline, or a sandy beach where you cannot see seagulls. The gulls make their home anywhere from the Arctic to the Antarctic, on every continent and ocean.In fact some species of gull even nest in lakes, inland.

There are approximately 60 species of gull, although it is difficult to be precise because of their tendency to interbreed and produce many hybrids between species. Their size varies from 120 g to about two kilos, and wingspans range  from 60 cm to 172 cm. The albatross is often confused with a seagull, but is a completely different species of bird, 21 species recognized, and close relatives of the petrels.

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The albatross is the largest seabird, weighing more than 8 kgs, with a wingspan of more than 3.5 meters, is also the longest living, with specimens that have reached  80 years of age, although the average age is around 50. Unlike gulls, which rarely venture far into the open sea, albatrosses and petrels fly hundreds of miles away from the coast, sleeping and feeding at sea, and rarely returning to the mainland, except for mating and raise their young? In fact the albatross is an efficient glider and depends on oceanic airs currents. When at sea, the albatross is able to drink salty sea water, as has the ability to excrete excess salt from your body. When the wind is calm, these birds often rest, floating on the ocean surface (as ducks, swans and other waterfowl do on a lake), until the air currents are again more suitable. The landing and takeoff maneuvers of the albatross are  spectacular.  The albatross is also known for their elaborate mating rituals, with males and females shaking their heads and beating their wings in elaborate choreography.

The Richard Bach novel “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” in 1970, did more for the popularity of the Seagull and other seabirds than any other myth or fable (perhaps with the exception of “The poem of the Ancient Mariner”). “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” was a worldwide bestseller and is still considered one of the exercises of anthropomorphism (attributing human traits and qualities to animals or things) in English literature.

With Bach, overnight, this seabird became a token for a whole generation of people immersed in their own spiritual quest. As expected, the personality of this literary character has little to do with the actual characteristics of seabird, an important fact to keep in mind for anyone considering getting a tattoo of a seagull. “Jonathan” inspires in us the fantasy of flight, and the learning process that leads to it, as a metaphor for the development of our abilities. As seagull, Jonathan aims to develop all his possible, his desire finds its form of expression in his fervent passion for flying, but not flying “in any way”. He looks to fly at the limits of what is possible, and exceed those limits, and in doing so transcends to a new level of existence. In the immortal words of Jim Morrison (singer of “The Doors”), Jonathan flies with such passion that takes him to “the other side” (“Break On Through, To the Other Side”).

“The poem of the Ancient Mariner” (title), written in 1727-1798 by Coleridge, was his longest poem and was very popular in the era of romantic English literature, becoming a major influence for future generations writers. This poem tells the story of the journey of a boat, the boat drifts off course and lost in the Antarctic until an albatross appears in the sky and leads it to safety. But despite the crew prayers and gratitude to the albatross, one of them shoots a bird with his bow,. That triggers the appearance of spirits that haunt the ship, looking for revenge. The sailors and the boat are cursed by the death of the albatross. The ship enters a zone of total calm, the crew runs out of supplies, and the crew forces the sailor to wear the dead albatross around his neck as punishment for his crime.

Hence the origin of a popular English expression “be an albatross around his neck”, which is to say “the misfortune that has sought self”. Soon the crew starts dying of thirst, but the damned sailor survives. The curse is lifted when the sailor finally sees the albatross in a new light, as a creature of great beauty. At this point the dead albatross falls from his neck, and the crew, guide the boat back to land. As an act of penance, the sailor must travel the earth and tell his story to everyone he meets, in order to teach the lesson. This poem is believed to have been influenced by the voyages of Captain James Cook in Polynesia. This poem is considered a great work of literature, and has some passages that are really creepy.

For the rest of us the seagull is a bird with webbed feet that populates beaches and docks, and who appreciates eating fish, going so far as to steal sometimes. Birds are so smart they are able to drop mussels and other shellfish from above, breaking them open when they hit the ground. The juicy delicacy within the mollusk shell is due reward for these complicated maneuvers. Agile in  both in water and on land, the gulls are able to eat almost anything living or dead, from marine life to passing insects. They are even capable of devouring trash with relish  It is not uncommon to find them in large numbers ,often located tens of miles inland, provided the food source they seek is there.

The gulls are able to fly by exploiting wind currents without flapping their long wings, hovering in the air , apparently without moving. Following a boat or vehicle so effortlessly the gull seems to be seeking humans company, but really it is not man, but rather his dustbins and scrap food they seek.

What we like most about the gulls is their peaceful nature. When threatened by a predator, members of the gull colony unite their forces to expel the intruder and defend. Seagulls are able to work together in actions like these thanks to the highly developed social structures of the colony.

The most widespread species of gulls are incredibly resourceful, inquisitive and intelligent. As a “spirit guide” the Seagull teaches us to emulate those qualities, and also to “fly” in the face of the fickle currents of our lives. Seeing as they take advantage of following the path of least resistance, the message to us seems to be, “go with the flow, do not oppose it.” Native Americans made the seagull a symbol of the carefree attitude, versatility and the spirit of freedom.

It was believed that the gull was the soul of a dead sailor, and for this reason they were never fired upon (remember the story of the old sailor we talked about earlier). A seagull perched on fishing gear or on the side of the ship was considered an omen of good fishing day.

The Maoris of New Zealand used the wing bones of the albatross to build their traditional tattoo tools. In Samoa, Haiti, Hawaii, the Marquesas Islands and other Polynesian cultures, seabirds were important cultural symbols. The Polynesians worshiped the ability of seabirds to navigate in the open ocean, and used them as inspiration in their own epic journeys. The Polynesian navigators used the stars, the forms of waves, ocean currents, water color and the presence of seabirds to determine their location in travel over hundreds and even thousands of miles of open sea.

“Makemake”, the chief god of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), was worshiped in the form of a seabird. It was also frequently found in stone carvings in the shape of a man headed gull. His image, carved in wood, was prominently displayed at festivals, including ceremonies where human sacrifices were made in his honor. Seabirds were powerful animal totems, and there are many petroglyphs where we can find stylized seagulls and “bird-men”. The inhabitants of Easter Island believed they were descendants of these birds; this formed the basis of a cult of birds. In one of the rituals “birdmen” must dive from one of the volcanic cliffs of the island, swim 2 km into the sea to a lonely rock and return with the first egg deposited by returning migratory birds.

Birds, in general, have been adopted by many cultures as a symbol of freedom, soul, and transcendence. The spirit of his wings rises above the everyday problems and limitations that apply on earth. Birds such as gulls and albatrosses resonate with our own aspirations to become better beings.This occurs in the transformational journey of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, in his efforts to fly higher and faster, Jonathan receives the wisdom of old teachings unveil mysteries of flight:

“… Not fly…… a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or the speed of light. Because any number is already a limit and perfection does not have limits. The Perfect speed is being there. ”
A seagull tattoo design may signify that the destination of a trip is not more important than the experience of enjoying each moment of the journey itself.

In the Netherlands, the seagull, flying to freedom, is almost a national symbol.
The California gull is the official state bird of Utah in the United States. There is a monument to her in front of the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. The seagull won the sympathy of the Mormons in 1840, when a plague of crickets began destroying their crops. After praying to God for help, gulls appeared and decimated the horde of crickets and saved the pioneers from famine.

The musical group ‘The Seagulls’ chose this bird as their totem deliberately. In their words: “We wanted to choose a common bird, one with which people could identify really”. Anyway someone’s got beat ‘The Eagles’

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