The bat is a symbol for death, superstition, fear, night, and cult and it is often linked to witchcraft and occults in the folktales form the West. On the contrary, the Chinese believe that it is a sign of happiness and good fortune and the Africans and ancient Greece believe it is a symbol of articulacy.
The bat symbol is considered to be the most sinister and frightening of all the symbols. It is regarded as a sign of darkness and death due to the Western myths which tends to associate it with un-cleanliness. Due to these legends, the bat has been portrayed by the Western civilization as a form of devil and vampire particularly by Bram Stoker (1897) in his book “Dracula”. It brought out the bat to represent the evil creature.
Even though some of these myths may be based on truth, others may not because most bats feed only on fruits and bugs but a few others feed on blood. Those that feed on blood drink the blood of cows and because they have an anticoagulant in their saliva, they can feed of these cows for about 20-30 minutes. Those that feed on blood are around three species of about 900 bat species around the world the rest that feed on fruits and bugs are not frightening after all. On the other hand, they are regarded as evil because they shun daylights and thus are night creatures that even tend to avoid bright moonlight.
Bat has a surprising history because in the early Christian art, angels were depicted as having birdlike wings while the demons were having bat like wings similarly in the writings of St. Paul, women’s hair were said to attract demons and that is why they were supposed to be covered when they were in church. This lead to a tradition that allowed women to cover their hair by wearing hats to church and also because they believed that bats could fly directly into the hair. These legends therefore will associate a bat tattoo with images of night creatures, bloodsuckers and other scary interpretations according to one’s culture.
On the contrary, when you come from China things would be different because the bat is seen here as a symbol of good fortune and happiness. Any image which contains five bats arranged in any pattern would represent these five types of happiness: love, love of virtue, riches, long life, happy death and peace. But the Native American legends tends to dispute this because they associate the bat with death because it flies at night and as a sign of rebirth because these bats always sleep with heads down. The face down act is associated to the position of the baby before birth. In the society of Shamans, the bat represents the desire to die a ritual death before one is able to develop into a new being. It is therefore an animal which represented initiations.