What Does an Unalome Tattoo Mean?

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Do you want to get an Unalome tattoo? If so, keep reading to find out more about the symbol’s meaning as well as the modern variations available.

For many, tattoos are a symbol of their dedication to their religion, practice, or craft. Sometimes, they choose symbols that date back thousands of years and have been ingrained in the culture they identify with. The Unalome tattoo is one of these symbols.

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

What is the Meaning of the Unalome Tattoo?

The Unalome tattoo meaning is a Buddhist design that represents the life path toward enlightenment.

The spiral represents our struggles throughout life, while the straight line represents harmony found through the turbulence. Unalome tattoos are powerful symbols of spirituality, representing our lifes journey. It’s a bit crazy to think that such a simple figure can stand for something so deep, but once you understand how to interpret Unalomes, the meaning of these sacred symbols becomes as clear as day.

Understanding the Unalome Symbol

To get behind the meaning behind the Unalome you must start at the beginning of the life path, represented by the spiral at every Unalome’s base. This swirl symbolizes our consciousness, the human mind in the beginning. Next, as you follow the line along its bends, which showcase life’s ups and downs, you’ll see the lines that show a person struggling to find direction, trapped in uncertainty or fear, but getting ever wiser and worldlier along the joureny.

The longer the line wanders, the less squiggly the journey becomes, and the closer the mind is to finding clarity. Eventually, the line doesn’t overlap. It goes completely straight, symbolizing the point when a person achieves Nirvana which is a release from the cycle of life and death.

Traditionally, Unalomes served to represent the crown of the Arahants (Arhat) the Enlightened Saints in the Buddhist culture. The spiral stands for the crown, and not the wavering wander. The straight line of the Unalome symbolizes the direct path to Nirvana that the enlightened saints have found.

Alternate Meanings of the Unalome Symbol

Besides their primary meaning, Unalomes have a number of other spiritual properties. They can be symbolic of either feminine or masculine energy, depending on which direction their spirals are facing (left for female and right for male). In some sectores of Buddhism, they are believed to represent the third-eye of Shiva herself or records of the lives of various Arahants, and individuals who have aspired to Buddhahood over the years.

Differences Between Unalome Symbols in Ancient Buddhism and Hinduism

Hindu religion: the Unalome represents the third eye of Lord Shiva. His 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 clarity in life. This spiral is preceded by a line with knots which represents milestones we will have to get past in order to reach enlightenment.

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

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

New and Modern Unalome Tattoo Designs

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

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

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

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

Unalome Tattoo FAQ

Is it okay to get a unalome tattoo?

Buddhist and Hindu cultures sometimes find unalome tattoos offensive when they are worn by westerners who don’t completely understand the unalome symbols’ esoteric meaning. On the contrary, it is considered acceptable to have a unalome tattoo if you have some knowledge of the Theravada school of Buddhism, or understand the layered spiritual meaning within the design.

When deciding to get an unalome tattoo it is important to keep in mind that certain placements can be considered highly offensive. The feet especially are considered one of the worst placements for a unalome tattoo as this body part is viewed as gross and unclean in the Buddhist religion.

It may also be important to keep in mind that there have been many instances of travelers being asked to leave largely countries with strong Buddhist and Hindu cultures for sporting tattoos thought to be insensitive or ignorant, so before you decide on an unalome tattoo, make sure that you possess a genuine understanding of it, along with a deep appreciation for the beliefs it represents.

What does an unalome lotus mean?

The unalome lotus meaning represents piousness, evolution, and purity of spirit. In the Buddhist religion, the lotus flower has great symbolic value, because it is believed to represent freedom from materialism, attachment, and physical desire. Even though the lotus grows in muddy waters, the flower is seemingly unaffected by its surroundings, holding onto an immaculate purity throughout its petals. Much like the unalome symbol, the lotus works to represent the journey to enlightenment.

When pairing a lotus flower with your unalome tattoo, remember that certain colors of flowers hold different meanings. A pink lotus flower, for example, represents devotion to the divine, while a white lotus shows spiritual purity and peace.

Is it disrespectful to get a Buddha tattoo?

Buddhist tattoos can be viewed as disrespectful if worn by someone that doesn’t understand the Buddha’s teachings, or when placed somewhere offensive on the body. In the Buddhist religion, it is mandatory to honor any art depicting the Buddha by hanging it at the highest point of the home. If you are pondering a Buddha tattoo, make sure it’s a conscious undertaking and that it is placed high above the waistline.

Popular Unalome Tattoos

Unalome Heart Tattoo

The unalome heart tattoo screams compassion, empathy, and self-love. Sometimes incorporating more elements like the lotus flower, these powerful and esoteric designs can help to promote love vibrations and awakening.

Unalome Moon Tattoo

In the Buddhist religion, the moon is thought to be a symbol of enlightenment and truth, making the unalome moon tattoo a powerful tribute to the soul’s journey for nirvana. In Tibetan Buddhism, the moon is very importance, with all calendars based on its cycles. There are even special names used to signify that a person was born on Monday, or “moonday”.

Unalome Lotus Tattoo

The unalome lotus tattoo is a powerful design representing purity of spirit, spiritual evolution, and the journey toward enlightenment. When designing your unalome flower tattoo, keep in mind that the colors you use will have great impact on the meaning of your tattoo. For example, a red lotus signifies love and compassion, while a blue lotus symbolizes the spirit’s journey over knowledge and wisdom.

Unalome Arrow Tattoo

The unalome arrow tattoo is a popular choice for many who wish to commemorate their faith and remain mindful of the principles of non-attachment. In the Buddhist religion, a teaching called “the two arrows” is used to signify our relationship with pleasure and pain; stating that sometimes when we go through a painful situation, (like being hit by an arrow), we often cause ourselves even more pain in the way we respond to the event, similar to shooting ourselves with a second arrow when we’ve already been wounded.

Buddhism’s “two arrows” teaching serves to help give a welcoming sense of curiosity to all outside life events, allowing one to experience both pleasure and pain without the added suffering caused by excess judgment and attachment.

Unalome Stars Tattoo

If you’re looking to add some flair to your special unalome design, an unalome star tattoo might be the one for you. Paying homage to the stars while celebrating the path to harmony this enlightening tattoo can be a powerful shout out to Buddhism and inner peace.

Unalome Om Tattoo

The unalome om tattoo is an extremely spiritual symbol packed with esoteric meaning. The om symbol is said to represent the sound that was made when the universe was created, and it is also thought to symbolize all that resides in the material and non-material worlds, as well as the illusions that may stop us from finding bliss.

Paired with the unalome symbol, which works to represent our earthly path to peace and enlightenment, the unalome om tattoo is a simple symbol but with a deep and layered meaning.

Unalome Sun Tattoo

The unalome sun tattoo is an energizing and clarifying symbol that represents the path to nirvana. In Tibetan Buddhism, the sun signifies brightness of the mind, the expulsion of darkness and ignorance, and the dissolution of all deceptions.

Male Vs. Female Unalome Symbols

The Unalome design can be symbolic of both feminine and masculine energy, depending on it’s direction. Where the spiral is found at the bottom of the Unalome symbol, if the spiral is facing right, it is traditionally for men. If the spiral faces towards the left, it is for women. This symbol embodies a variety of spiritual properties and, in this modern-day, you can take 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?

Related: how to give yourself a stick and poke tattoo

Unalome Tattoos for Women

If you’re interested in a female unalome tattoo, there are certain elements in your design that you’ll have to pay extra attention to, for example, making sure that the unalome spiral faces to the left. The direction of your spiral will decide whether your unalome symbol is masculine or feminine in nature.

If you want to add more feminine energy to your unalome design you can consider additional elements, such as creating a unalome moon or unalome lotus tattoo.

Unalome Tattoos for Men

If you’re searching for the perfect male unalome tattoo, you’re not the only one! Many men have used this peaceful and ancient symbol as an ode to Tibetan Buddhism, and to serve as a reminder of the spirit’s hard journey toward peace.

When designing your unalome tattoo, make sure that your spiral is facing right, because this is the traditional way to depict a male unalome design. Pairing your unalome tattoo with traditionally masculine symbols such as the sun can be a creative way to infuse esoteric masculine energy into your special design.

Best Unalome Tattoo Placements

When deciding on an unalome tattoo placement, it might help to consider the wisdom of Sak Yant; the traditional and spiritual practice of Thai tattooing. With Sak Yant, it is believed that tattoos carry incredible power, while interacting with the body, mind, and spirit. When choosing your unalome tattoo placement, remember that you must keep it above the waist, but also away from the heart, sternum, breast, or ribs. In Buddhism, it is believed that the area surrounding the heart is very important energetically, and spiritually, and so it is recommended to try not to place any symbols within this region. Popular unalome places for men and women include the wrist, behind the ear, the arm, and the neck.

Unalome Sternum Tattoo

The unalome sternum tattoo is a very  popular selection, especially with women. Searching for a place close to the heart, many choose unalomes on the sternum as a way to show their faith and dedication to spiritual growth.

While you can place your unalome tattoo anywhere that you like, it is advised in the Buddhist tattooing practice of Sak Yant that you avoid the sternum and area by the heart, because the energetic qualities of this area are very sensitive.

Unalome Finger Tattoo

Unalome finger tattoos are a wonderful spot for those who wish to see their design all day. Aiding as a potential meditation aid and spiritual enhancer, the unalome tattoo works great in this highly visible but still delicate placement.

Unalome Wrist Tattoo

Unalome wrist tattoos are a good placement for anyone looking to celebrate Buddhist principles and the concept of nirvana. Unalome tattoos are recommended to only be placed above the waistline, making unalome wrist tattoos a stylish placement that won’t be viewed as disrespectful.

If you’re thinking about a Buddhist sleeve, or you’re just interested in a stand-alone tattoo, a unalome arm tattoo might be the right selection for you! Sitting above the lower half of the body, the forearm and upper arm give the perfect space to design your own unalome tattoo. So, no matter if you’re interested in adding complementary design elements, or you’d prefer a simple symbol, the arm offers good real estate for unalome tattoos of all styles and sizes.

Unalome Face Tattoo

For those who want a very visible placement for their unalome tattoo, unalome face tattoos can’t be beat. With the face and head being the highest points of the body, this non-traditional placement actually follows traditional Buddhist beliefs, which mean that holy symbols and imagery should always be placed above the waist, and as high as possible within the home.

Unalome rib tattoos have exploded in popularity over the years, remaining one of the top placements for this powerful Buddhist design. While unalome rib tattoos are not considered offensive, in Thai Tattooing it is traditionally advised to avoid tattooing the ribs, breast, or sternum, as these areas are considered to be very energetically.


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