Here’s What Angelina Jolie’s Tattoos Really Mean

Love her or hate her, you know the name Angelina Jolie. After being an iconic 1990s Hollywood wild child, with blood vial necklaces and quick marriages, Jolie became one of the biggest stars in Tinsel Town. After winning the Oscar for her role in the 1999 hit “Girl Interrupted,” Jolie solidified her legacy with her performances in “Changeling,” “Wanted,” “Salt,” the “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” series, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and “Maleficent.” 

In addition to leading an impressive acting career, Jolie has also become a mom. In 2002, she adopted her eldest son, Maddox, from Cambodia. Two years later, she adopted Zahara from Ethiopia, and in 2007, she adopted Pax from Vietnam. In 2006, she gave birth to Shiloh, and then in 2008, she welcomed twins Knox and Vivienne. She’s become a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, directed feature films, and been involved in high-profile relationships. Oh, and she’s gotten a lot of ink.

After multiple decades in the spotlight, fans seem to still want to know everything about her — and that includes getting to the bottom of her tattoos.

Angelina Jolie's back is almost completely covered in tattoos

Angelina Jolie fans know her back is tatted up. As Vanity Fair recounted, Jolie got a rendering of a Bengal tiger inked to her back in 2004 to commemorate her Cambodian citizenship. The enormous piece, which takes up her entire lower back, was done by Ajarn Noo Kanpai and the artist blessed the tattoo. According to Tattoos Win, the big cat covered up a small dragon tattoo that was there before. She also has “know your rights” at the base of her neck, which is a reference to The Clash song of the same name.

Tattoos Win noted that she used to have the Japanese character for “death” on her shoulder but she got it covered with a Khmer prayer script tattoo in honor of her eldest son, Maddox. According to Style Craze, this tattoo is supposed to protect him from bad luck and it means, “May your enemies run far away from you; If you acquire riches, may they remain yours always; Your beauty will be that of Apsara; Wherever you may go, many will attend, serve and protect you, surrounding you on all sides.”

According to the Sak Yant Chiang Mai website, on the right side of her back is a diamond armor tattoo  — also by Ajarn Noo Kanpai — that represents protection. And in the middle of her back is the Sak Yant ViHan Pha Chad Sada tattoo. The site also pointed out that the meaning is only known by the artist.

Angelina Jolie had her Billy Bob tattoo removed

Angelina Jolie has a lot of tattoos dedicated to people in her life, past and present. One of her most notorious tattoos has to be the one she got of then-husband Billy Bob Thornton’s name over a dragon on her right arm. After they split, she wasn’t so thrilled with that piece of body art. It took multiple sessions to remove it, and she eventually got it replaced with something incredibly sweet: She now has the coordinates of all of her children’s birthplaces, and even Brad Pitt’s birthplace. 

On her inner thigh is the phrase “Whiskey Bravo,” which is a tribute to her then-partner Brad Pitt and the aviation alphabet. As for the “H” tattoo on her wrist? She told Rolling Stone that “there are two people in my life who have this letter who I’m very close to and who I sort of love and cherish.” In an essay for The New York Times, she shared that the “W” on her hand that represents the Rolling Stones track “Winter,” which is a song that reminds her of her late mother. And according to Body Art Guru, the Buddhist swirls on her arm are for good luck.

There's a lot of text on Angelina Jolie

On Angelina Jolie’s left arm are the Roman numerals XIII and VMCMXL. According to Body Art Guru, the first is a cheeky one to show she doesn’t care about whether or not the number 13 is actually unlucky, and the other is in honor of one of Winston Churchill’s famous speeches. Another tattoo on her left arm is one that reads, “A PRAYER FOR THE WILD AT HEART KEPT IN CAGES.” When Rolling Stone asked her about the ink, she said, “So it’s kind of a prayer for everybody to find their happiness, to break out … Anything that makes us comfortable, those things are cages around us.”

According to Body Art Guru, on her right arm is the Arabic phrase for “strength of will.” The site  she also has a beautiful line by the poet Rumi on her arm that reads, “There exists a field, beyond all notions of right and wrong. I will meet you there.” (As People recalled, she and Brad Pitt both got this tattoo when they tied the knot.) She also has cross and quote tattoos on her waist. Originally, she had another dragon tattoo there, but got it covered with the chunky cross and phrase, “Quod me nutrit me destruit,” which means “what nourishes me destroys me.”

She’s had a few other tattoos, but most of the ones you don’t see now have been removed.

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