Stick and Poke 101: What Do Unalome Tattoos Mean?

Are you considering getting an Unalome tattoo? If so, read on to find out more about the symbol’s meaning as well as the modern variations available today!

Hand poked unalome tattoo on the forearm. source

For many, tattoos symbolize their dedication to their religion, practice, or craft. Oftentimes, they choose symbols that date back hundreds if not thousands of years and have been ingrained in the culture they dedicate themselves to. The Unalome tattoo is one of these symbols.

Available in a variety of different designs and modified by modern tattoo artists to fit within larger art pieces, the Unalome tattoo is growing in popularity across the world. But, do you know what the Unalome symbol means? And did you know that it differs between men and women? Here’s everything you need to know about Unalome tattoos and their meaning.

Unalome Symbol Explained

While the general meaning of the Unalome tattoo is the same, it does vary slightly between beliefs.

Hand poked sideboob unalome tattoo by Trikona. source

What Does the Unalome Symbol Mean?

If you’ve seen a Unalome tattoo before, you probably thought it was just a cute doodle. The truth is, the Unalome symbol is packed with history and meaning. This simple design goes back centuries and holds true worth in both the Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. The symbol is also very close and similar to that of the Tigli in Tibetan culture and the Bindu in Sanskrit culture. Ultimately, the Unalome symbol represents the path to enlightenment.

Stick and poke unalome by Trikona. source

Differences Between Unalome Symbols in Ancient Buddhism and Hinduism

In the Hindu religion, the Unalome represents the third eye of Lord Shiva, whose duty is to oversee life and remove all obstacles. In this culture, the spiral at the bottom of the Unalome symbol represents the lack of direction in life. This spiral is followed by a line with knots which represents milestones we will have to overcome in order to reach enlightenment.

In the Buddhist religion, the meaning is more or less the same. However, the design differs slightly. The bottom of the Unalome in Buddhist culture represents the seated Buddha with a half-moon above his head. This portrays enlightenment in the darkness. Above this, the spiral and line with knots represent life going up into the universe.

In both cultures, the Unalome symbol may be accompanied by a lotus flower. In the Hindu religion, the lotus flower represents enlightenment. In Buddhism, the lotus flower is Nirvana. Today, there are various different designs, all of which have a slightly different meaning. In Thailand and Myanmar, traditional stick and poke tattoos called Sak Yant tattoos often feature the Unalome symbol.

New and Modern Unalome Tattoo Designs

Today, in addition to standalone Unalome tattoos, people and designers are finding ways to integrate them into larger pieces. They’re also creating new and unique Unalome designs that differ from the original one. Typically the biggest variation is in the style of the line of the tattoo. That said, many are finding new variations of the lotus flower and others are adding symbols such as triangles, arrows, dots, and lines to create a design unique to them.

In addition to the above, you may see variations of Unalome tattoos that include eyes. The meaning behind the eye varies entirely on its style and the owner of the tattoo itself. Some of the different meanings of an eye tattoo include:

  • Vision
  • Clarity
  • Protection
  • Christianity
  • Intelligence
  • Soul
  • Focus
  • Life
  • Guardianship
  • Prophesy
  • Perception

Other symbols that some include in their Unalome designs include the Om sign, a sacred syllable designed to capture the essence of the universe, as well as Celtic symbols that represent power, strength, and wisdom.

Unalome tattoo by Trikona. source

The Different Body Placements

One of the most popular places for women to get an Unalome tattoo is between their breasts. The designs vary from small and subtle to larger with additional elements. Other popular locations include the wrist, forearm, and back of the neck or ear. Again, Unalome tattoos on these parts of the body often include more design work as well as additional features such as a lotus flower, a moon, an eye, or other variations.

Because of its sacredness and to fully embrace the symbol’s meaning, it can be seen as disrespectful to have a Unalome tattoo on the foot. This is because it is seen as a part of the body that is always dirty.

Hand poked unalome tattoo by Ann. source

Male Vs. Female Unalome Symbols

The Unalome design can be symbolic of both feminine and masculine energy depending on its orientation. In the Buddhist religion, where the spiral is found at the bottom of the Unalome symbol, if the spiral is facing to the right, it is traditionally for men. If the spiral faces inwards, towards the left, it is for women. This symbol embodies a variety of spiritual properties and, in this modern-day, you can make it your own, taking the elements of its meaning that you like and creating a final design that you are proud to wear as a tattoo.

If you would like to create your own DIY Unalome tattoo, why not order a stick and poke tattoo kit? Check out our online store to find out more about the various kits we have to offer.

Hand poked Om + unalome tattoo on the ribcage. source
Inverted unalome on the sternum. source