The first time I had a personal encounter with this symbol of Mexican tradition was when I was around seven or eight years old. My grandmother got herself the tattoo of a hummingbird on her shoulder blade. It became such an integral part of her that she never went anywhere without it showing, she even took to wearing sleeveless blouses and dresses so you could always see its outline.
I remember thinking how beautiful and detailed the workmanship was, and secretly wishing I too would get one some day! But as we all know, wishes change and evolve with time and experience – but mine has changed very little: the idea of getting myself a traditional Mexican tattoo is still alive in my mind.
In this article I’m going to go over the history and symbolism of this traditional Mexican art, as well as some examples of its beautiful craftsmanship.
The true meaning and origins of this tattoo are a mystery – some say it is connected to death and mourning, others that it calls out for the dead to be remembered; one thing we can all agree on though is that its roots date back many centuries ago.
We know from drawings found in ancient burials (such as those located at Tizatlan, Puebla) that this type of custom existed before the Spanish Conquest, perhaps as far back as between 900-1200 AD – which would make it very similar indeed to the tradition of the British swallow tattoo .
When you see a hummingbird, the first thing that comes to mind are its delicate yet powerful wings. For this reason many Mexicans refer to it as “el pajarito” (the little bird), for they represent freedom and elegance in flight.
It is said that when a hummingbird taps you with his beak, it’s your soul he’s trying to reach – so perhaps the tattoo of one on your arm or shoulder means you have an affinity with life itself?
golondrina tattoos can mean: remembrance, eternity and more.
The most traditional Mexican hummingbird tattoo design features a small, detailed bird in flight with its beak pointing upwards. It has elongated wings, extended tail feathers and any kind of flowers or vines that link it to the wearer can also be included. This is known as the “secret” type of tattoo because there are only certain people who know how to create them (they’re passed down through families) – even though it’s quite modern in comparison to other golondrina tattoos .
Golondrina color meanings:
Some say this particular birdflower combination symbolizes feminine energy; others insist they refer to religious idols worshiped by pre-Hispanic Mexicans. The fact remains that no one really knows what the significance behind these tattoos might be, but they are definitely beautiful to look at!
The most traditional color for this type of inking is red, which I personally believe is the best option if you’re planning on getting one. Alternatively green and blue can be used in its place.
These tattoos can come in many different shades and colors, just like the real hummingbirds themselves! And depending on the color added they can possibly have new symbolic meaning behind them too. Here are some examples of how it might look when done correctly. Due to popular demand I have also added some examples of golondrina tattoos that I think are not so traditional or accurate.