The heart tattoo design started its history over a hundred years ago. The peak of its popularity was observed in the early-mid 1900's. Its shape ‒ two curves running to a tip ‒is the second most recognized shape in the history of the mankind, the first being the cross. Nowadays it is used in art and architecture; cardiologists use it as their universal sign. It may seem very surprising but it has also become a playing card symbol.
Some recorded examples of the heart shape are thousands years old. One of them, dating back to 3000 B.C., can be seen on a clay goblet exhibited in the Museum of Kabul in Afghanistan. But the heart shaped patterns decorating the goblet were not red; they were green and looked like fig leaves.
The symbols fashioned after ivy leaves emerged a thousand years later on clay vessels in Crete. They also appeared in the 8th century on Corinthian vases.
You can see the description of such decorations in Christian teachings where Jesus is depicted as a vine having a heavenly, unselfish heart. Over the course of the time the theme often appeared on Roman tombstones, then Christian graves, the symbolism being eternal love which is beyond the grave. In this very period the heart started the transformation which led to its current design.
What concerns the red heart, its first appearance was in the 12th-13th centuries when the ivy leaves in Roman paintings became the color of blood, implying health, love and good luck. After that the red heart became popular in Europe. The great role in this process belongs to the Catholic Church as the image was adopted into the Sacred Heart.
The heart image was put on playing cards in the 15th century. It replaced the goblets on tarot cards. The modern heart also came from the Eastern culture, aside from the European version. It evolved from the fig tree. There is a belief that Gautama became Buddha because he found enlightenment when he was sitting under a fig tree and mediating. The difference is that the heart didn’t represent love, but spiritual enlightenment.
This is a brief description of the long process during which a simple leaf changed into the symbol of love accepted everywhere.
Today's history of the heart tattoo design started with the modest symbol which a sailor would wear on his arm as a sign of gratitude to his mother, and it has developed into a rather complex design. Tattoos with heart patterns are acceptable not only for men; they are quite common on women as well. What makes them called-for designs is that you can incorporate them into any style. Besides, you can place such a tattoo on any part of the body.