Ink #10: Swallow Tattoo @ Nervo Tattoo, Porto

Comments (2) Art, Art, Architecture & Culture

Tattoos haven’t been on top of my priority list for the past year and a half, despite my really wanting a care bear one (still) and a rainbow on my wrist somewhere. It just seemed too hard to fit it into schedule when i’m in KL!

I tried booking an appointment in Bali when i was there earlier this year to no avail.
Then tried a bit harder by emailing weeks in advance a tattoo artist i found online whose work i fancied, called Peter Aurisch.
His next available slot was when i’d already moved on to Barcelona, so that wasn’t meant to be either.

On my second last day in Porto, i suddenly thought of getting one there.
I had two days to myself to do whatever i pleased with my schedule, and thought why not.
I just felt like it was TIME to get one. A yearning, if you will.

I searched online,
found a studio called Nervo Tattoos whose style i liked,
scrapped the idea of walking there just to check it out,
and called them instead.

They had a slot if i was willing to go in at 11am the next morning, so i said okay.

Porto Nervo Tattoo Swallow 1

I already thought about how i would get a swallow tattoo, as it’s a regular symbol in Porto and hey, when in Rome…

“The swallow tattoo was a symbol used historically by sailors to show off their sailing experience (…) According to one legend, a sailor tattooed with one swallow had travelled over 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km); a sailor with two swallows had travelled 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km).[1][2] Travelling these great distances was extremely difficult and dangerous in the early days of sailing, so one or more swallow tattoos denoted a very experienced and valuable sailor.” [source]

That’s good enough for me! Considering i’ve traveled so much (albeit via more modern and safe modes haha).
But wait i also have a sailboat tattooed on my arm cos i love sailing…

“Another legend holds that since swallows return to the same location every year to mate and nest, the swallow will guarantee the sailor returns home safely. (…) The swallow also represents love, care and affection towards family and friends, showing the loyalty of the person always returning to them. The bird also represents freedom and hope.”

Nice, all these meanings that resonate with me. (Ok except about that mating and nesting thing. Not sure about that.)

Porto Nervo Tattoo Swallow 2

Bruno of Nervo Tattoo sketched out the swallow, and i pointed out references on the studio wall that skewed towards the use of ink colours i wanted- which was to be quite traditional. I like how they use bright primary colours in their work, but requested he only used blue and red with some black for shading (as my fairies and rose are predominantly shades of blue and red too, so they wouldn’t all clash so much).

Initially he was going to place the swallow facing the other way so people who view it with my arms down would see it the right way up to them, but i refused cos… who’s gonna be seeing the swallow most?


So it should face ME!
I don’t want to be saying hi to an upside down bird every day.

The swallow looked a bit sad at first, so i got Bruno to change it,
but then she ended up looking fat and i puffed my cheeks out to express to him what i meant.

“Do you think it’s gonna hurt?” i asked, “Cos it’s on the hand.”
Him: Hmm i don’t know… *gestures at his own hands devoid of tattoos thus far* … yes?
Me: Damn. (thinking why do i always do this to myself)

It wasn’t that painful actually.
Or maybe i just have a high threshold for pain (i believe all women do anyway).

Porto Nervo Tattoo Swallow 3

Bruno gave me tips on where to eat around Porto (tho i already ate myself into a snowman) and said he also runs an Airbnb called NERVO apartment (so if you wanna stay at a tattoo artist’s place there…)

I paid 100 euros for it and happily left with my new swallow to take home with me 🙂

The next day, I received an unexpected voice note from halfway round the world regarding my newly-acquired tattoo… that something came to her about its further significance, and how the swallow is seen as a strong female/mothering energy that is used to fill in for pain of dying children/and their souls. Something about how an old inner child of mine is dying to make way for a new inner child, which can feel like a very daunting process and some clearing is happening. It’s a personal evolution that’s taking place internally, as my current being isn’t in alignment with these inner children anymore and it’s always painful letting go, but it’s making way for new ones of a higher level.

Yeah that got a bit more woowoo than i meant it to be but that’s what took place around the tattoo.

All these different shifts have been happening in me and i just wanted something to symbolize the past year and even, the past month/s of traveling i’d been doing.
I did feel like i just really WANTED IT and for a moment, wondered, am i addicted to the pain?
Am i requesting for the pain so i feel less of a pain in me that i am trying to counterbalance?
It felt comforting to know all these ‘feelings’ weren’t some psycho made-up emotional turbulence i was going through and berating myself for, because why would i possibly feel like this when i’m on holiday?

If i thought starting a company made me grow so much more quickly on a personal level,
forcing myself to let go (and be less controlling) of it by going on a 6-week break made me see so many new things i didn’t expect coming.

I have a lot more to think about now… after all the people i’ve come into contact with and experiences i had (some that made me feel great, and others the complete opposite). I have learnt a lot since i left! I’m so ready to go home, but i’m also so smitten with the idea of being away for longer periods of time by myself.


Related blogposts:
* Bambi Tattoo #9 by Lynda @ Pink Tattoos *
* Launch of Pink Tattoos Telawi! *
* My 8th tattoo by Julian Oh *
* Tattoo #7 Peter Rabbit *
* Tattoo #6 My Little Pony *
* Tattoo #5 All you need is love *
* Tatoo #4 with Jason in 2008 *
* Tattoo #3 from Rudy *


2 Responses to Ink #10: Swallow Tattoo @ Nervo Tattoo, Porto

  1. […] right is my 10th tattoo i got in Porto, a swallow- one of the symbols of the port city that signifies far and safe […]

  2. […] on the many things we bought there, but any reason to get a tattoo… plus I hadn’t got one since summer ’15 and it was […]

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