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  • Writer's pictureMandira Antar

Tattoo Symbols / Swan

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

One of the largest and impressive birds, lives between the liquid element and the element of air, pairs with a mate sometimes for life, his song is associated with death and has a great mythological history in every known culture.

Did you know:

No other aquatic bird reaches the speed at which the Swan moves either in water or in the air.


Etymologically the Greek word "swan" comes from the Indo-European term "keuk", which translates as "shine, I am bright". Similarly, the English "swan" comes from the Latin "sonus" which means "sound" as well as the Indo-European "swénh" (the one that sounds). [Source: ]

There is also the well known ancient Greek expression κύκνειον ᾆσμα, which is still used today (in latin: carmen cygni). This phrase originates from the myth that this bird, although it never sings, just before its death it is singing one of the most beautiful melodies and it is used for the final work that someone leaves behind when he dies.

In Greek mythology Zeus transforms into a swan with the help of Aphrodite, in order to seduce the beautiful Leda (Queen of Sparta). The swan is also associated with The God Apollo and the Goddess Aphrodite.

These myths were inspiration for multiple works from the Hellenistic period and the Renaissance.

In India the swan (hamsa or hansa bird) is related to the soul and the evolution of consciousness and is considered a vehicle of the Gods (Brahma or Saraswati). It is symbolically said that the swan can separate milk from water. This allegorical reference is about the consciousness of "distinguishing" the real from the false, the substance from the meaningless. It is also associated as a symbol with the soul and its lonely journey to divinity.