People get tattooed for different reasons. Sometimes it is becasue they like a particular design, a specific tattoo artist or because someone that they look up to has the same tattoo. Some tattoos have deep meanings that actually tell a story about you just for having that particular design branded on your body for the rest of your life. The swallow tattoo is one of those tattoos that has a significant meaning historically by sailors who were showing off their sailing experience. Much like tear drop tattoo has meaning to those prisoners who are doing life in a penitentiary.
The swallow, or sparrow tattoo is derived from British origin dated back to the early days of sailing. Sailors would get an image of a Barn Swallow, usually tattooed on their chest, hands or neck. The swallow tattoo, according to the legend meant that the sailor had traveled over 5,000 nautical miles; a sailor with two swallows meant that he had traveled over 10,000 nautical miles.
Traveling such distances meant that the sailor had spent a great amount of time on the sea. In the early days of sailing the swallow tattoo would tell how much value the sailor would add to the crew and vessel.
One of the reasons that swallow was used is becasue the swallow returns each year to the same place to mate and nest. Having this tattoo had an superstitious allure that guaranteed that the sailor would return home safely after his journey. It was also believed according to the legend that if a sailor were to drown at sea, the swallow would safely carry their soul up to heaven to spend the afterlife.
Over time the swallow has come to mean different things to different individuals who adorn the brand on their body. Some claim that it represents love, care and affection. Others claim that it represents loyalty to an individual or family.