There are many animal images used in modern day tattooing, however a pig tattoo may not be the first one that comes to mind but there a lot of positive traits to this fascinating domesticated creature.  In fact, pigs and swine were among the first animals to be used for domestic purposes by ancient hunters as mankind evolved from hunter-gatherer to agricultural farmer. Dogs, sheep and goats can also be traced back to ancient times but pigs were among the first to prove an amenable match for domestication. Before this, wild swine were hunted for food, particularly large boars, by Neanderthal hunters with their spears.

There are different variations on the symbolism behind having a pig tattoo as it veers from sacrilegious to sacred from culture to culture. In ancient times, the Egyptian, Greek and Celtic civilisations revered the pig linking it to the mother goddess and thus associating it with happiness, fertility and motherhood but it also signified luck and prosperity too.  According to Greek mythology, the infant Zeus was nourished by a female pig so the sow was held in high regard as a symbol of fertility but it was also sacrificed to other deities with agricultural connotations such as Gaia, Ares and mother earth, Demeter.

During the 19th Century, group of anti-loyalists – supposedly from Scotland – used the pig as a symbol to front their anti-monarchy campaign. There was also a gargoyle in Melrose Abbey four hundred years earlier which had bagpipes over its shoulder. According to legend it looks down on the exact location that Robert the Bruce’s heart is believed to be buried. Going back even further, the pig has long been associated with abundance and there is a Celtic myth that tells a tale of a miraculous herd of pigs, which had the ability to self-renew.

However to most humans, the pig was not just a staple food item but a symbol of status that signified security and wealth for those how owned one. In China, the pig is also linked with wealth, prosperity and luck but it is also a symbol of virility to the Chinese. As a youngster, you may recall having a ‘piggy banks’, which are still popular with children today and this originates from days gone by when wealth was closely associated with pigs.  French truffle farmers value pigs for their capacity to root out this expensive edible fungus which fetch a high price on the market and the Germans attached pigs to men’s watches for good luck. In Hungary, the word for pig is diszuo and this is also the term used for the highest ace in a deck of cards.

To this very day, the pig is still held in high regard as a symbol of fertility and prosperity, and is a prize possession which gives a family status. In parts of South East Asia, it was customary for the groom’s parents to present the bride with a pig while in Borneo; the pig is slaughtered as an elaborate sacrifice for a feast honouring a special guest. In the Philippines, some tribal funeral rites involve the body of a pig being placed under the deceased. This is considered to be an offering to the Gods of revenge, for one who is deemed to have died unjustly.

Perhaps one of the main reasons one would choose a pig tattoo, would be in homage to the Chinese Zodiac as those born in the year of the pig are believed to be intelligent and determined with the ability to set and achieve far-reaching goals. This particular sign also symbolises sincerity, tolerance and honest so a tattoo design of this nature may also be highlighting those traits in oneself.

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