Lotus flower tattoos are a popular choice of design because they combine a great visual effect with symbolic meaning.
Often associated with purity and harmony, lotus flowers are instantly recognizable and closely connected to a number of cultures and religions around the world.
Lotus flower tattoo meaning
Across the ages, the lotus flower has stood for different things across different cultures, including:
- Egyptian culture – ancient Egyptian mythology included the belief that the beginning of life on earth was marked by the blooming of the lotus flower from the sea. Because of this, in the Egyptian culture the lotus is a symbol of life’s beginning and reincarnation.
- Chinese culture – probably due to its visual appeal, in Chinese culture the lotus is considered a symbol of pure feminine beauty. In the context of personal relationships, it also represents marital harmony. Seen as an object of perfect beauty, the lotus is understood as a source of inspiration for artists and poets.
- Western culture – drawing on the ancient Egyptians’ idea of the lotus, Western culture sees this flower as a symbol of new beginnings and rebirth. The lotus can also represent divine conception and the search for the true meaning of life.
Although the lotus can be understood in different ways, it’s important to note that in every instance it is a positive symbol.
Spiritual meaning of lotus tattoos
The two religions in which the lotus flower has the highest significance are Hinduism and Buddhism.
In Hinduism, the lotus is one of the key spiritual symbols. Known as Padma, or the ‘Sacred Lotus’, it is a symbol of divine beauty and purity. Primarily associated with the gods Vishnu, Brahma and Lakshmi, the flower’s opening petals symbolize spiritual awakening and the expansion of the soul.
In Buddhism, the lotus is equally important – Buddhist mythology states that Buddha himself was born from a white lotus.
The eight petals of the lotus represent the Eightfold Path – a core part of the religion. The Eightfold Path is the road taken towards liberation from the cycle of rebirth that Buddhists believe all living beings are a part of.
Another meaning of the lotus in Buddhism is as a symbol of purity of the soul – likely originating from the fact that the flower grows in murky, muddy waters but manages to maintain its purity and beauty.
The color of the lotus as seen by the Buddhist religion can also influence its symbolic meaning.
Color and the meaning of lotus tattoos
As you can see, the lotus has a wide range of symbolic meanings, determined by cultural and religious influences.
You can add another layer of symbolism to your lotus tattoo through color – different-colored lotuses can carry different connotations and have further symbolic significance. For instance:
- Blue lotus – the blue lotus is a symbol of intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge. In religious terms, a blue-colored lotus signifies that a person’s spirituality is stronger than their physical senses – meaning that the strength of your spirit can help you overcome physical temptations. In terms of tattoo designs, blue lotuses are usually tattooed half-closed – as a symbol of the growth of spirit and mind as a continuous, life-long process.
- White lotus – the white lotus is a symbol of enlightenment, both in spiritual and mental contexts. It can also signify perfection, purity, and a calm nature. In Buddhism, the white lotus is referred to as ‘Flower of the Buddhas’.
- Red lotus – also known as the ‘heart lotus’, the red lotus is a symbol of passion, love, and compassion. In contrast to the blue lotus, the red one is usually tattooed in full bloom – further underlining the fullness of passion it’s meant to represent.
- Purple lotus – the purple lotus is a symbol of spirituality as a whole, and again holds particular significance in Buddhist contexts – it is considered to be a sacred flower and the homage of Buddhist deities.
By carefully choosing the color scheme of your lotus flower tattoo, you can create complex and personalized meanings with multiple layers of symbolism.
Lotus tattoo placement
Besides personal preference, the placement of a lotus tattoo on the body doesn’t hold universal meaning in itself.
When choosing where to have your lotus tattoo, consider the practical aspects of where your design will fit best and whether you want the tattoo to be on display at all times.
As with all tattoos, the back and the chest are the two areas best suited for large designs that are easily covered up when needed.
One of the advantages of choosing a lotus for your next tattoo is that it can be done in any size – from tiny, simple designs to be placed on the ankle or the wrist to large, more complex tattoos for your back, thigh, or shoulder.
Lotus tattoo design ideas
The possibilities for working a lotus flower into a tattoo design are virtually endless. If you’re stuck for ideas, the gallery below is sure to give you some inspiration. You might also want to consider the following:
- Lotus flower in water – the lotus doesn’t have to be represented as the only element. It’s quite common to see tattoo designs involving a lotus (or several lotuses) in water. This kind of design opens up an opportunity for some great color work, looks great in a number of styles from traditional to watercolor, and can refer to the cultural and religious notions of the pure lotus emerging from murky water.
- Matching lotus tattoos – as mentioned above, in Chinese culture the lotus can stand for harmony and mutual trust in personal relationships. Matching tattoos for couples involving a lotus flower can therefore hold a symbolic meaning of the strength and closeness of the relationship.
- Tribal lotus design – lotus flowers can be combined with tribal elements for an original design with interesting contrast. Though traditional tribal tattoos are done in black, contemporary designs can include splashes of color – allowing for an even greater level of creativity with this type of tattoo.
The lotus flower is one of the top choices for tattoo designs and is often featured both in traditional and contemporary styles. It’s easily adapted to any aesthetic, from minimalist to hyper-realistic, watercolor to symmetrical, full of color or entirely black.
The lotus is a highly versatile symbol which holds a lot of significance in itself and can additionally be combined with other elements and further customization to fully reflect the intended personal meaning. Experiment with different ideas, combine the lotus with other symbols and elements, and make your tattoo truly unique!
Small Lotus Flower Tattoo Designs