125+ Fabulous Elephant Tattoo Designs – Body Art with Deep Meaning and Symbolism

An elephant tattoo is one of the most common animal body markings especially in Asian and African countries where this beautiful animal roams freely. The elephant is the biggest land animal, but this is not the only thing that makes it famous.

This majestic creature holds an important part in the history of humanity and for some societies such as the Hindu it is a representation of one of their gods (Lord Ganesh), and so it gets more respect than most other animals.

In African societies, it is also a very revered animal because of its strength, intelligence and the fact that it is one of the few animals that know about family ties and value them a lot.

Its prominence in the society is indubitable, and there is no better way to show this than having its tattoo inked on your body.


History of Elephant Tattoo

The elephant has been a part of human culture for centuries, and people have been using it for different things such as transport and war. An elephant is one of the strongest animals on earth, and so men have been domesticating them and using them to ferry goods and people to distant places for trade.

During the days of the Silk Road trade route, the elephant was one of the primary modes of transport for the traders as it had the strength to carry more goods than any animal.

And because the traders adored it and to show their close relationship with their animal most would draw an image of it on their body so that they would remember it when it passes on.

An elephant was the tank of the battlefield in the ancient times and the number of elephants that an army had would determine whether it won or lost the battle.

The Greek King Pyrrhus is one of the most famous people who used elephants in wars and most historians credit them for his many victories in battle.

Hannibal and the armies of Carthage also hard significant numbers of elephants on their army and they were very successful in their numerous campaigns.

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  • Elephant Tattoo 125
  • Elephant Tattoo 127

Elephants would make enemies tremble and flee, and so people in the ancient world developed a fascination with these creatures, and those that could not afford to own one would have a small image of it inked on their body as a sign of strengths and courage.

This culture of having an elephant symbol spread across the world and this is one of the reasons why it is still a desired body marking today.

In the Hindu culture and a few other Asian societies, the Elephant is a sacred animal that represents their Lord Ganesh. Unlike other religions and cultures Hindus believe that it is okay to portray their god in carvings and images.

And so most who believe in Lord Ganesh will prefer to have his elephant representation inked on their body as a sign of their faith and also for protection. The Hindus were among the first people to have this tattoo and people have been drawing it on their bodies for thousands of years.

Although the ancient body marking was not as sophisticated as the modern one, it was still an elephant tattoo.

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Meaning and Symbolism

Few other animal symbols if at all any have more meanings and symbolism than the elephant. It is the largest animal on land and also the strongest, and so these tattoos can be a symbol of strength.

The elephant is also a peaceful animal and it does not attack unless it is protecting its calf or you provoke it and so this body marking can also mean that one can be calm and peaceful regardless of how powerful he or she might be.

Elephants leave in in families, and they are very loyal and protective to their kin, and so you can use the totem to show how much you value your loved ones.

These creatures also have a powerful maternal instinct and the eldest female is the leader of the group, and so you can have it to show the power of femininity or the importance of a mother.

In the Hindu culture, an elephant symbolizes success and this meaning comes from Lord Ganesh whom Hindus depict with an elephant head.

Lord Ganesh is one of the most popular deities in Hindu religion, and he is thought to bring success by removing obstacles in the lives of people who believe in him and have a pure heart.

Ganesh is also wise and so having this tattoo can also symbolize that you have wisdom or want to gain it. In other cultures, the elephant is a sign of fertility, chastity, and patience.

The elephant lives for many decades, and it has one of the longest lifespans among the land animals. In fact, scientists claim that it would live even longer were it not the fact that it loses its teeth with age and hence it cannot eat.

And so having this body marking can also mean longevity or the hope that just like this animal you will leave for many years. Memory is another universal symbolism that people associate with this beautiful tattoo because this animal has an excellent memory.

An elephant will always remember important things such as a route to a watering hole and also a person such as a handler in a zoo.

Other Meanings and Symbolism

  • Nobility
  • Determination
  • Compassion
  • Happiness
  • Devotion
  • Renewal
  • Fidelity
  • High Intellect
  • Community/Family
  • Spirituality
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Types of Elephant Tattoos

The elephant tattoo comes in many variations, and there are many designs available, and so you can be confident that you will find something that goes with your tastes and preference.

Whether you prefer something simple as an outline or sketch of this animal or even other complicated designs in 3D, there are plenty of options available for you and the only important thing is to find a talented artist.

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  • Elephant Tattoo 122

It is always crucial to do some research and get to know some of the design variations available as this will ensure that you know what to expect before getting inked.

Below are some of the most popular and common variations of this body marking and it is important to know them so as to choose one that goes with your style and preferences.

3D Realism

3D tattoos are very trendy, and they are what every tattoo enthusiast wants to get so as to keep with the times. These tattoos are a perfect demonstration of how the art of tattooing has evolved over the years.

The 3D elephant is a realistic representation of the animal and only a talented, and experienced artist can be able to draw it flawlessly. It looks best on you if you paint the animal in its natural habitat either in the African woodlands or a watering hole.

And if you can withstand some pain then it is a perfect idea to have a matriarch with a few small elephants and a couple of others in a herd.

For this tattoo, the colors also have to be right so that anybody looking at it would see a realistic image of the animal. The size does not matter a lot, but it is a perfect idea to have it at the back as a huge body marking because this also shows the might and size of this animal.

However, you can also have it as a medium size elephant tattoo on the upper arm or as a half sleeve. It is also common for people to vary it by having an elephant cartoon in 3D instead of the realistic one.


Sketched tattoos give you the freedom to have any elephant design that you want. But, how attractive it looks will always depend on the creativity and talent of the artist. A sketch is easier to draw than other types such as the Ganesh or Circus themed elephants.

In most cases, it is in black and white but just like with any other tattoo some people prefer to give theirs some colors to brighten it up. The sketch can entail drawing a simple outline of an elephant or only the head, and if the artist has the skills, he can even ink a family of elephants.

Sketched tattoos can also portray a realistic image of the elephant. And most people will make one look like a proportional and realistic elephant will all the features when they are sketching a tattoo of the head.

The realistic drawing of the elephant head looks best when you place it on the upper arm and also as a plain or black and white tattoo without any bright colors on the image.


Some people prefer to have some small tattoos because they are easy to draw meaning that they are also not very painful, and you can cover them up if you want.

The minimalist elephant images are very popular particularly with ladies who prefer to have them on the ankle, wrist and some even behind the ear. A minimalist tattoo makes it hard to get the details of an elephant right, but some top artist can still do it.

However, to ensure that you do not end up with an awkward looking image a good idea would be to keep things simple by having an outline or a very straightforward sketch with minimal use of colors.

Lord Ganesh

Lord Ganesh is one of the most if not the most popular Hindu deities and millions of people across the world worship him. His popularity explains why his image is one of the most popular tattoos.

The image of Lord Ganesh is a human being with the head of an elephant, and he is very popular even with people that are not of the Hindu faith. In fact, this image is what most people will use to show the Hindu religion.

There are many ways of drawing Lord Ganesh, but the most important thing is to maintain the physical features such as the elephant head, four hands, and his hanging belly.

Most people prefer to draw him seating down in a meditation pose or while crossing his legs. The level of detail in each tattoo depends on a one’s preferences, but most will have him in a bright blue color with all the adornments befitting a god such as jewelry and other accessories.

It is also common just to draw his head instead of the entire body, but you have to adorn him and also give the Lord the Hindu signs on the face so that people can identify him.

The options are endless with this tattoo but with some research and a little advice from your artist, you will be able to find a variation that works for you.


The art of tattooing is always evolving, and the use of watercolors is one of the most recent innovations. The watercolor variation of the elephant tattoo is a modern design that entails adding some bright watercolors to the image to brighten it up.

When using watercolors on this tattoo, you have to make it look like someone just dumped them over the elephant, and so they should always be the last thing to add when drawing this symbol.

The best thing about these types of tattoos is that you can form them from an existing elephant image by giving it some color. But, you have to be very keen with your colors as you should not only go for your favorite colors but also consider whether the hues work well together or not.


The mandala holds a special place in the Indian religions as it is believed to be a representation of the universe. However, the term is now accepted to mean geometric patterns and diagrams that represent the cosmos.

And so by adding the Mandala to your elephant tattoo, you can be able to give a deeper and more symbolic meaning. Apart from the deep symbolism the pattern also makes your elephant look prettier than it would do if you had it as a simple image.

The mandala may seem like a complicated pattern, but most artists will have little to no trouble drawing it, and this means that you can have it as part of your elephant if you want.

A mandala elephant looks best if it does not have a lot of colors and making it plain also helps to preserve its meaning. The level of detail in your mandala elephant will depend on the size of your tattoo because the bigger it is, the more space that the artist will have to draw the pattern.

But the good thing about it is that you can have it on any elephant image even if it is just the head as it will still look attractive.

Circus Theme

Elephants are intelligent animals, and this is what makes it possible for people to train them to perform in circuses and carnivals.

They are the oldest animals in the circus, and their ability to perform tricks that no other animals can do is what makes them a popular attraction for millions of people that visit the circus every year.

It is amazing how a huge animal like an elephant can perform tricks like balancing on a small stool or standing and walking on its hind leg. People show their fascination with the circus elephant by getting a tattoo of them performing these mind blowing tricks.

It is not easy to say no to a pretty image of an elephant balancing on a stool or a ball whether you love the circus or not. The circus elephant is charming because it is adorned with jewelry and beautiful clothing materials to make it look stunning when on the stage.

And if you can replicate all these features in your body marking then you can be sure of a breathtaking tattoo. The color is also vital in this tattoo, because a circus elephant is colorful but make sure that you do not overdo it as this may make your image look awkward.

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Best Placement Ideas

Placement is as important as choosing an elephant tattoo from the various variations because if you do not have it at the right place, it will not look as attractive as you wish.

The versatility of this tattoo or its availability in many designs and sizes means that you can have it in almost any part of the body.

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  • Elephant Tattoo 119

But, the most important thing is to know where different variations of the totem look best. For example, the wrist, ankle, behind the ear and even the fingers are a perfect place to have a small elephant outline or a basic sketch.

A massive Lord Ganesh or colorful circus elephant are ideal for your back tattoo. The back provides you with enough space for these tattoo types, and so you can be able to capture all the details associated with the image.

A 3D elephant will also look perfect on your back because of the availability of enough space to draw other things such as the trees that you find in its natural habitat.

The upper arm is a good placement area for a medium size elephant head with the trunk flowing downwards on your hand. Some tattoo enthusiasts prefer to have their totem in unique areas such as the knee, shoulder, stomach and even on the breasts.

The elephant tattoos can also look fantastic in these unusual locations, but you have to choose the right type and pattern. For example, a small elephant head would be perfect for placing on your belly button, while a massive 3D one may not look attractive in the same location.

If you are thinking of getting inked, then you should go for something with a deep and symbolic meaning such as an elephant tattoo.

Apart from the meaning this body marking also looks very majestic and with the many variations available you can have it in any size and in almost any part of the body that you want.

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  • Elephant Tattoo 117

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