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Reasons Why the Octopus is the Ultimate Symbol of Steampunk.


Steampunk is a genre of science fiction, typically set in an era where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century. It’s often associated with retro-futuristic technology. You could say that it’s all about turning the past into the future. One of the most iconic symbols of Steampunk imagery would be the Octopus. Why? Let’s take a look at some reasons and find out!

Bottle Krakens.

By KateTinsleyArt.

Bottle Krakens. (steampunk octopus). By KateTinsleyArt.
Credited to KateTinsleyArt.

What is Steampunk?

First, what’s Steampunk? It’s a genre of science fiction, typically set in an era where steam power is still widely used. It’s often associated with retro-futuristic technology. An example would be Jules Verne’s 1874 novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Steampunk as a genre has its roots as far back as the late 19th century, but it didn’t come to life until the 1980s when writers like Bruce Sterling and James Blaylock began self-publishing their novels as “steampunk.” Author K. W. Jeterlater coined the term in 1987 after reading a copy of Jeter’s Morlock Night and thinking that “this stuff is kinda punk rock.”

A laser-burned light-weight ornamental display box created by TheDribblyYak.
Credit to TheDribblyYak.

A laser-burned light-weight ornamental display box created by TheDribblyYak.

Why the Octopus is an iconic symbol of Steampunk

One of the most famous symbols of Steampunk is the Octopus. The tattooed female figure from the cover art for one of Jules Verne’s most famous stories, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, has been a favourite icon for steampunk art and style since it was first released. One reason is that it’s a symbol of mythical or supernatural power. The Octopus can find it on everything from jewellery to ties and waistcoats to corsets and coats. The Octopus symbolises human complexity and mortality: an eight-legged creature with an eternal lifespan and no skeleton.

The Octopus’s eight tentacles represent different technologies.

One of the reasons the Octopus is an ultimate symbol of Steampunk imagery is that it typically has eight tentacles. That number could represent different technologies. There are also eight points on a compass, representing the eight directions that Steampunks like to travel in.

The Octopus’s eight arms may also represent how technology can break down barriers and connect people with different beliefs, backgrounds, and cultures.


By Leia Cairns.

An original mixed media painting of a steampunk octopus over a human skull.

Octopuses are versatile creatures, which is a quality of Steampunk.

One of the most exciting qualities of octopuses is their versatility. They can change colour, shape, and texture to blend in with their surroundings. This quality also reflects the nature of Steampunk. The genre makes something old seem new by reimagining it with a contemporary twist. A significant component of this genre is using obsolete technology in unusual ways.

An octopus can be seen as an image representing many aspects of steampunk culture: Retro-futuristic imagery. An interest in antique technology. The ability to transform into something new by looking at old things in a new way.

Enesco Edge Sculpture Octopus Figurine.

By Enesco.

Enesco Edge Sculpture Octopus Figurine.

Steampunk relies on creativity and imagination, as seen in the Octopus.

Steampunk is all about creativity and imagination, seen in the Octopus. The Octopus is symbolic of creativity because it has eight tentacles representing the eight arms of invention. It also represents imagination because it’s an animal that relies on its senses to explore its surroundings. You could say that the Octopus is one of the most intelligent creatures in the sea.

The Octopus can morph into other shapes, which means it can adapt to its environment.

Octopuses can change their shapes to adapt to many different environments. They are also able to camouflage themselves to hide from predators. That’s one of the reasons why an octopus is perfect for Steampunk.

The Octopus can fit into any environment and blend in seamlessly. It doesn’t need a new home because it will just morph into that space or shape.

Tentacle statue.

By Mariarty1211.

Triple Tentacle statue, Contemporary Octopus Decor, Lovecraft clay statuette, Gothic home decor, Unique Fantasy Man Gift Idea, Steampunk

Credited to Mariarty1211.

The Octopus is often found at the same depth as shipwrecks, often associated with Steampunk.

The Octopus is associated with Steampunk because it’s often found at the same depth as shipwrecks. Shipwrecks are the perfect opportunity to salvage treasures, which are often used in Steampunk.

Credited to DecornerBotique.

Steampunk Octopus with spyglass telescope sculpture.

By DecornerBotique. (Currently closed).

The Octopus has a long lifespan that could represent the longevity of Steampunk.

One of the main features that make Octopus so attractive to Steampunk is the fact that they have a long lifespan. This could represent the longevity of Steampunk and all that it entails.

The Octopus is also an animal that adapts well and adapts to its surroundings, just like Steampunk can always keep up with new technologies.

Octopi are often associated with the ocean, which could represent how steampunks feel about their world’s oceans.

The Octopus is very intelligent, which means it also has a lot of potential for innovation, just like steampunks do.

The Octopus has eight limbs, which is another feature that makes it seem like a perfect symbol for Steampunk since there are eight gears on most clockwork mechanisms.

Lastly, many people associate octopi with danger because of their ability to kill prey using venomous tentacles. This could represent the dangers of technology and what happens when you use too much technology in everyday life.

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