Elephant Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

If you’re keen to get an elephant tattoo, we’ve done some research to find out more about their deeper meanings, range of designs, and where you should place your new ink for the best effect.

Elephant Tattoos: Symbolism and Meaning

Elephant tats are rich artistic symbols that can be used to carry and emphasize a range of ideas. Below are commonly associated interpretations. 

Loyalty, Family, Love, and Companionship 

Elephants are known to have strong family bonds. That’s most likely why associated tattoos represent themes of love and loyalty in the tattoo world. 

The ink can be combined with other, darker illustrations to show the power of love. For example, a common design would be an elephant crushing a wicked-looking snake in a show of loving protection over a family member.

Family members may get these kinds of tats on matching body parts to represent unfailing devotion to each other. Lovers may get matching tattoos to symbolize dedication to their relationship. 

Protection and Unity 

Elephants are also known for their protective instincts. They often form a circle around their calves or weaker members of the herd, keeping danger away. Tat designs representing this could include a rendition of the animal with its ears spread out in a show of intimidation

Mothers may get a protective elephant tattoo to symbolize the fierce love and care they feel for their children and the lengths they’ll go to to ensure their safety. 

Power and Strength 

These gentle giants are the biggest animals on land. Their sheer size conveys power and strength majestically and peacefully. Depicting the elephant interacting peacefully with a smaller creature would be a great way to carry the theme of gentleness and power in your tat.

To emphasize a theme of power, go for full-body illustrations. 


These beauties are known to be highly intelligent. They live to a ripe old age, too, and, with experience, comes wisdom. An example of a tattoo design symbolic of wisdom and intelligence could be the addition of a lotus flower above or on the head of the animal.

The lotus is representative of enlightenment in many cultures and is commonly seen on elephant depictions in Buddhism. A Ganesha tattoo might be perfect for this, too, showing the link between elephants and divine wisdom. 


Mothers may choose to get a mom-and-baby elephant tattoo to symbolize a mother’s gentle, nurturing nature. Some may decide on a calf or a cartoon elephant to underpin the idea of gentleness and approachability.

Popular Elephant Tattoo Designs 

The design of your tat could be used to underpin your overall message or add to the symbolism. Below are a few popular approaches:


If you appreciate fine art, you might go for realistic elephant tattoos. Photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, and those who work with the animals may want to honor them by etching life-like representations onto their skins.


Elephant tas can be illustrated in tribal art to celebrate different cultures. Below are a few ideas for your next ink:


Get your elephant tattoo done in a bold and striking abstract design modeled after traditional Polynesian tattoo artistry. It’s deeply entrenched in their culture and is filled with symbols, lines, and art elements that come together to form fine patterns

The style is great for capturing details on the animal’s body.


This style of tattoo is bold and striking. Modern tribal tattoos are comprised of geometric patterns, curves, swirls, and bold, solid, thick lines. It’s a popular style and is often used to represent the strong and powerful side of the elephant. 


Mandala means “circle.” These geometric symbols are often intricately detailed. A mandala-style elephant tattoo can be circular or can simply be the shape of the creature, but adorned with mandala-style patterns. 

This style works well with cartoon-themed elephant tats.


Ganesha, or Ganesh, is a Hindu god with the head of an elephant and a pot-bellied human body. He’s the god of new beginnings and helps his worshipers to remove obstacles. This tattoo is popularly used as inspiration to rise above life’s misfortunes.

Heartbroken lovers usually depict the god holding a broken heart. The most popular interpretation is that the wearer is optimistic about getting over the past and enjoying the future.

Common Elephant Tattoo Colors 

Colors are used to make elephant tats pop and emphasize their meaning. Here are a few suggestions:


Black elephant tats can be used to set the scene for a gloomy illustration. If you’re keen to turn it into a gothic piece, add some dark elements, like devil’s horns or dark angel wings. 

For a more optimistic tattoo, how about having the animal standing with a raised trunk? The triumphant gesture symbolizes strength and a readiness to fight for what you want. 


Red is traditionally the color of passion, determination, anger, or fire. A red elephant could symbolize burning determination if combined with elements like lightning, fire, stars, or the sun. 

If you’d like to show action and movement, a cloud of red dust around the creature’s feet should work. Red is also the traditional color of Ganesh, the elephant-faced god. 


This is the natural color of an elephant, and so would be great for realistic-style tattoos. If you want to give your tattoo a bit of sparkle, you could go for silver instead of a natural gray. These two colors are popular with people looking to capture the details of the animal’s body.


A pink elephant is usually associated with hallucinations, due to its ridiculous nature. The equivalent tattoo can be an indication of your imaginative side or your inner party animal. A cartoon-themed image would work well in pink, to emphasize fun and approachability. 

Common Body Placement for Elephant Tattoos 

Tat placement is typically determined by practical factors, such as whether or not you’ll need to cover it up for work. Below is a list of the most popular spots to get elephant tattoos: 

The Back 

The back is an awesome canvas for an elephant tattoo. The shape of the shoulders going down into the back would complement the tattoo’s shape. A full-sized elephant should fit onto the back to illustrate rich detail and texture. 

The Chest 

The chest works really nicely for a sizable Ganesh tattoo or an elephant head, especially if you want the ears to be a feature. Each ear could be placed on either side of the chest, with the trunk going down the middle. 

Elephant ears are also commonly used as the wings of a heart, on the left breast. These combinations and placements are usually used to illustrate the purity and sincerity of maternal love. Most people etch their mother’s names into the heart to pay tribute to her.


The other fairly large inking spaces on the body are the thigh and the side, so if you want something quite big, these are good options for placement. They’re perfect for both elephant heads and full-body depictions. 

The best positions are: 

  • The upper arm
  • Calves 
  • Forearms

These spaces are big enough to hold a medium-sized tattoo and are easy to cover, if necessary. They’re excellent if your workplace isn’t too accommodating of visible tats.

Smaller Tattoos 

Smaller elephant tattoos can be placed just about anywhere. Common areas for small designs include the wrist, the ankle, the foot, and behind the ear.

Best Elephant Tattoos