If we say floral tattoos, one of the first things that come to mind is a lotus flower tattoo. It might be the most popular flower that is usually the subject for tattoos. Why is it? Maybe it’s because of its regal beauty that makes it easy to capture on ink. Or perhaps it might be because of its deeper meaning.
The lotus flower has long been deemed as an important symbol in Eastern civilization. It has always been the symbol of purity, harmony and resilience. It probably goes back to how the flower survives in nature. You might notice that it grows on murky and muddy ponds and water and yet it remains unstained. The flower stands for the same attributes in human. A bearer of a lotus flower tattoo is often deemed as resilient and harmonious.
A Brief History of Lotus Flowers
Scientifically speaking, the lotus flowers have already existed millions of years ago. Fossilized remains have been found at both Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
In the past, the lotus flower has been a natural source of food. It has also been used to brew tea but has psychedelic effects. The flower represents women and their fertility and beauty.
This flower has also been used in various ceremonies and rituals ranging from giving birth to death. Religious and spiritual ceremonies also make use of it, making it an incredibly popular flower.
Lotus Flower Tattoos in Buddhism
The lotus flower plays a big part in Buddhism. It is a religion widely practiced in Eastern and Central Asia. Buddhists believe in various meanings related to the lotus flower.
One of the most common is that rising and setting action of the flower. It blooms as its petals open one by one welcoming the day. But as the sun sets, it closes once more and sinks into the muddy water. According to the followers of the religion, this action symbolizes human’s ability to overcome any obstacles and misfortunes in life.
Many people, both Buddhists and not, get tattoos of lotus flowers floating in water. This imagery helps symbolize their resiliency and ability to stand up after falling down.
Lotus Flower Meanings Through Colors
Buddhists also believe that the lotus flower has varying meanings, depending on their color. Many tattoo artists and enthusiasts also choose the color of their lotus based on what they want it to symbolize.
- White lotus flower – If your tattoo is a white lotus flower, it basically means purity and spiritual and mental enlightenment. Some choose to have eight petals and this is also significant. It represents the Noble Eightfold Path of the Good Law. Generally, having a white tattoo could denote that you have reached purified your body, soul, and mind.
- Blue lotus flower – This color generally symbolizes wisdom, logic and someone’s thirst for knowledge. If you have this tattoo, it could mean that you are still on your journey to getting more wisdom and knowledge in life. You are still open to learning more. Blue lotus flowers are usually shown partially open. This is used to represent a never-ending potential to learn.
- Pink lotus flower – A pink lotus flower is the most important in the Buddhist religion. This represents Buddha himself. Paintings and art depicts this imagery often. It’s even present in stories and legends. As a tattoo, it could mean your high respect and love for Buddha or that you are nurturing, like a mother’s love.
- Purple lotus flower – This color representation has almost gone extinct for Buddhists. The purple lotus flower represents Buddhism as a religion as what people believe. Apparently, it suggest the view to be mystic and welcoming to those who seek enlightenment. This imagery also shows respect to the Buddhist’s gods and goddesses. As a tattoo, it could denote your willingness and start of your journey to enlightenment.
- Red lotus flower – This lotus flower tattoo represents the state of your heart as well as your passion and love for yourself, others, and the religion. Red lotus flower tattoos depict it as fully bloomed most of the time. The heart is believed to always be open to welcome new people and things. Getting this inked means that you are open to love yourself and others and is very passionate.
- Yellow/Golden lotus flower – This might be the rarest tattoo of all. Getting a yellow/golden lotus flower means that you have reached enlightenment. This basically means that you have achieved every teaching, pathway and lessons to learn in Buddhism. Not many get this tattoo since doing so without fully achieving enlightenment (which is nearly impossible) can be disrespectful to the Buddhists and their religion.
Lotus Flower Tattoos in Varying Stages
The Buddhists also believe that tattoos of a lotus flower in its various stages of blossoming has different meanings.
Getting a tattoo with a budding lotus flower could mean that you are in the early stages of your enlightenment. The bud is the first stage in a lotus flower’s life. Its petals do not open yet. They haven’t welcomed the sunlight. This can mean that the person haven’t found Buddha yet, but is on his or her way.
As a tattoo, this could also mean that you are new and fragile. But you are also determined to show your full potential.
As the flower starts to bloom, its petals open one by one. It becomes partially open. We know its color but it does not show its center yet. This means that the person is in his or her transitional phase. In Buddhism, that person haven’t yet reached nirvana. The imagery denotes that you are on your way through your life and career. You are still seeking new information and even though you know what you want, you still haven’t reached it.
Finally, when a lotus flower fully blooms, all its petals are open. It welcomes the sun and its sweet scent wafting around. Its final phase also means a person’s final stage in life. This means they have achieved what they want in life or career. In religion, it means that they have reached enlightenment.
An open lotus flower tattoo also suggests that the wearer is open to new things and new people. It shows their openness and willingness to explore the world and what it has to offer.
Lotus Flower in Hindu
In Hindu culture, the lotus is more specifically known as the Sacred Lotus, Padma. The flower is also important in their religion as it is associated with a number of their deities. Among these are Brahma and Vishnu.
Padma represents a number of things, from divine beauty and purity to the expanding of the soul and spiritual awakening. The latter is often the translation when a lotus flower is still unfolding.
If you refer to the Hindu culture, a lotus flower tattoo represents a pure mind, spirit and body. In many of their stories and legends, the flower is said to symbolize being free from attachments and material things. That said, getting a lotus flower tattoo means you are free from desire and emotional attachments. You have also free your mind and body of wanting material things.
Ancient Egypt finds the lotus flower as an essential part of their culture as well. According to their legend, the Sun God rose from the Lotus Flower when it was opening. They believed that the rising of the lotus flower symbolizes life. Its rising and setting action denotes rebirth.
The lotus flower was also their symbol for Upper Egypt. It is also found in many of Egypt’s honored places. Hieroglyphics surround tombs often have this symbol. Even thrones of pharaohs had one.
Lotus Flower Tattoo Design Ideas
It is not only in the color and the phase that we can draw meaning from a lotus flower tattoo. Sometimes, it is depicted in a particular design. Others tend to combine the lotus flower with another subject with deeper meaning. Usually, it turns into a more specific depiction of what kind of person the wearer is.
Others choose a more traditional approach while some people want a more unique design. It can depend on you and your personality and how you want your tattoo to represent you. However, here are some of the lotus flower tattoo design ideas that you can choose from:
- Lotus flower and dragons – In Japanese culture, dragons and the lotus flower are pretty common. The dragons of Japan are mostly used to represent freedom and balance. They are also said to bring good luck.
- Lotus flower in full bloom – A lotus flower depicted in full bloom usually means openness. However, it can also mean a pure and delicate heart.
- Lotus flower floating in water – This design could include just a single lotus flower or a cluster floating in water. This has a different meaning than when a single lotus flower is the subject. It means resiliency and being able to stay pure despite growing in murky water. For the wearer, it can tell their story of overcoming difficulties in life.
- Matching lotus flowers – The lotus flower is also a good symbol for friendship, family, and relationships. In Chinese culture, they associate the flower with harmony and mutual trust. Getting a tattoo of matching lotus flowers signifies wearers wanting to strengthen their bond.
Modern and Unique Lotus Tattoo Design Ideas
While traditional lotus flower tattoo designs are still very popular, many opt for the more modern and unique designs. Traditional ones usually depict a realistic lotus flower. However these days, you can see lots of modern tribal designs of lotus flowers.
Many of these tribal designs are often black and white. They don’t have the thick and bold black ink used in traditional tribal art. Instead they usually use soft strokes, swirls and dots. They normally don’t have any colors and shadings.
Others choose the minimalist approach. The design is usually just a simple drawing of a lotus, with just the side view of overlapping petals. These are perfect for small tattoos on wrists, ankles, neck, back and inner elbow.
Modern touches also often use colorful inks. This is often known as the watercolor style. It’s pretty much like a watercolor painting you would do on canvas or paper. The strokes are soft and includes splashes of bright pastel colors.
Patterns as background or flower detailing are also very normal for modern designs. Usual designs often include geometric shapes and patterns as the background of the main subject. Some designs have the patterns and shapes in the petals itself. There are lines, swirls and dots that takes the aesthetics to a different level.
Another popular design is more on the minimalist and 3D style. Instead of drawing a simple flower, however, it focuses more on the shading to give depth to a subject even without a black outer lining. It’s much like coloring to create a picture instead of drawing an outline. The end results are always stunning and almost like its popping out.
Lotus flowers are not just full of philosophical meanings. They are also rather great at enhancing aesthetics. That being said, most people want their lotus flower tattoo to be the center of attraction, but won’t drown other tattoos (if you have) or won’t get lost in space.
The placement of the tattoo pretty much depends on the design. However, small and minimalist tattoos would look amazing on the wrist, ankles, upper back right at the base of the neck or inner elbows. These are perfect especially for women who want to show off their delicate tattoos.
Some women actually preferred getting a tattoo on their sternum or rib cage. You can choose a bigger tattoo for this.
Men and women who want a bigger tattoo could place it on their back, shoulders or arms as a quarter, half or full sleeve. The amount of space makes it easier for the tattoo artist to manipulate the design and create backgrounds and add more details. In the end, it really depends on the wearer’s personal taste.