A bear is more than some cute cuddly animal you see in cartoons or stuffed animal in the toy store. Dating back to ancient Native American cultures, the Shamans believed that the bear was linked to the spiritual world and would conduct many different rituals honoring them.
Dating back further to Norse culture, their god Odin was often seen depicted as a bear.
When it comes to tattoo designs, some opt for the cute and the cuddly, while others prefer the fierce warrior, we are going to discuss those and everything in between so you get a better understating about the bear tattoo meaning.
Bears and Early Humans
The bear had a very deep connection with early humans, who would wear the bones and the hide of the bear in belief that this would allow them to absorb the physical and spiritual powers of this great animal.
Another let’s say epic animal design is a horse tattoo.
The bear is often depicted as this fierce warrior, one that displays an absolutely incredible amount of power, shows unwavering bravery, and has relentless power in the face of opposition, very similar to the lion tattoo meanings.
It is no wonder that many choose the bear tattoo when they want a permanent reminder of the struggles they face, the battles they have won, and their unwillingness to allow anyone or thing to stand in their way.
The Healing Bear
While many fear the bear and would never even consider challenging this beast, the bear also has a very endearing quality that the Sioux nation associates with medicine and healing.
The Sioux tell stories about the bear to their children and this has been passed down for several generations.
According to their legends, there was a very sick bear who stumbled upon a redwood sorrel plant. After eating all the leaves, the bear was amazingly healed of the illness.
So excited to have been healed, the bear went to the Sioux nation and spread the word about the healing benefits of that plant. Today the tribe still honor the bear and consider it one of their sacred animals.
The Bear Tattoo Meanings
The bear has many endearing qualities, and these have varying significance to the wearer. These bear tattoos symbolize everything from unwavering courage, unmatched strength, and protection from attacks.
In addition to representing bravery and unlimited power, the bear is looked upon as that of motherhood. The bear has this unique connection with nature, and can also be symbolic of resurrection, as the bear awakens from his long slumber after months of inactivity during the cold winter months.
Those who have a high level of confidence put family first, and have survived many battles in their life utilize the bear tattoo on different parts of their body.
With so many different bears in the world, it only makes sense that these creatures can be symbolic of many unique meanings based on different cultural elements.
Here are just some of the most popular bear tattoo design meanings.
Teddy Bear Tattoos
Hard to imagine a more cuddle and cute representation of the mighty bear. The teddy bear, however, does carry some unique symbolic meaning for some.
He got his name after president Teddy Roosevelt refuses to kill a black bear cub while he was on a hunting expedition. The name stuck, and today the teddy bear tattoo is symbol of innocence, love, affection, and childhood.
Bear Paw Print Tattoos
Most likely the biggest of all animal paw prints, the bear paw print can be quite menacing when inked on the chest, shoulder, bicep, or even the back of the neck.
While they do look quite fierce, the meanings of the bear paw print tattoo range from mobility, power, stability, and even good luck.
Grateful Dead Bears
Whether you are a fan or not of the hippie band the Grateful Dead, you most likely have seen those colorful dancing bear tattoos of various sizes on bodies of their fans.
The bear design was released in 1973 and paid homage to Owsley Bear Stanley, the man who wrote and produced the album.
The colorful bear’s design is globally recognized and symbolic of free spirits, carefree attitudes, and a fun loving heart.
The Panda Bear
Considered to be the most famous and most rare of all bear breeds, the panda is also one of the most popular when it comes to tattoo designs.
The black and white color distinction of the panda bear has been closely associated with the Yin-Yang Chinese symbol for harmony. These bears can represent balance, good luck, and peace.
Grizzly & Black Bear Tattoos
Both the grizzly and black bear are ferocious warriors, they strike fear into humans and most of the animals in the wild.
When it comes to bear claw tattoo designs, these two beasts also share many other common attributes. They are the face of the warrior spirit, they back down to no one, and they will often fight to the death to defend their family.
The Polar Bear
The indigenous people of the Arctic have a very spiritual and cultural relationship with the polar bear. This monster of the north is considered to be the reincarnation of the Great Spirit Tuurngasuk.
Eskimos still revere the polar bear for their incredible hunting skills and they believe wearing a polar bear’s teeth will protect you from harm. Eskimo tribes have folklore legends that speak of the polar bear’s love and devotion to their cubs.
The California bear was given the distinction of being placed on the state flag in 1846, and today still represents the same virtues from over a century ago. The California bear represents honor, independence, and freedom.
Koala Bear Tattoos
If you are looking for a unique bear tattoo design, the koala certainly fits the bill. These go with the flow creatures are slow moving and extremely friendly.
They make great tattoo designs because of their teddy bear looks and calm demeanor.
According to Aboriginal folklore, the koala bear is the keeper of Earth’s memories, they crawled out from the depths to then bring wisdom to all humans and then take to the trees in order to keep watch for us.
This little bear symbolizes a connection to calmness, earth, protection, and wisdom.
Bears can even be inked in one of many adorable cartoon characters that many people closely associate with their childhood.
The list of these cuddly cartoon bears is numerous, ranging from Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Gummy Bears, and the most famous bear of all, Winnie the Pooh.
Many who choose Winnie the Pooh as a bear tattoo design often include one of the many verses he was often heard muttering to friends. These cartoon bears are nostalgic, fun, loving, and just make you feel good.
Choosing the right bear tattoo design simply means finding one that has a unique and special meaning to you and running with it.
With so many different styles to choose from, you really should be able to connect your core beliefs and values with a bear that is in line with your unique personality quite easily.