With the demand for body art continuing to grow in recent years, there has been an increase in cultural themed designs, in part due to the opening of European borders in the last decade which has enabled more people to migrate for economic or personal reasons. Eastern Europe in particular has seen many workers leaving their homeland to seek professional opportunities in other more affluent countries. The Republic of Albania is one such country which has seen a steep decline after the collapse of socialism in the country and as a result many of its people have had to travel to far off lands to seek jobs.
Therefore, not surprisingly, many of them opt for an Albanian tattoo as a permanent reminder them of their country of origin and their cultural roots. In the USA alone, there were 201,118 Albanian Americans -US citizens of full or partial Albanian descent – according to the census statistics of 2008 with another 22,000 in Australia and Canada. There are an additional three million dispersed throughout the rest of Europe, most of these in the United Kingdom, while Italy,Germany,Switzerland,Sweden, Austria and France all have large Albanian communities too.
One of the most popular choices for an Albanian tattoo is the national flag and this is red with a black double-headed eagle in silhouette in the centre which was the national and ethnic symbol for Albanians. It was utilized during the Middle Ages for heraldic families by several noble families in Albania. Centuries later, it was adopted by Albanian nationalists during the 1800’s as a symbol of their campaign for their country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. It officially became part of the national flag in 1912 when independence was finally declared. Today, this is the only sovereign state that has a recognized red and black flag, making it somewhat unique in that respect.
The two-headed Albanian Eagle on its own is also popular with tattoo enthusiasts in small, medium and large designs inked on the skin as a silhouette in jet black. There are even designs of this image that cover the whole back, which start at the nape of the neck with the double head resting between the shoulder blades. The rest of the design meanders down the skin, widening in the centre before tapering to a finer point at the tip. The wings can be inked over or under the vertebrae for additional impact, which will give them the impression of movement as you move. This is a very distinctive image that is a popular choice for an Albanian tattoo for many citizens around the world.