Life in Ink: Flower Power

by Lorna
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the symbolism of flowers in tattoo

We know now that tattoos have been around for literally thousands of years.  Originally just small marks made with naturally derived pigment, tattooing has evolved into a brilliant and expressive art form that draws together persons from all races and walks of life.  But why do we ink the things we do?  Let’s examine the flower, for instance.

In the west, flowers are seen as a predominantly feminine theme, but in Japan the cherry blossom has a rich history as a male tattoo element, often being woven into the designs of traditional horimono, or full-body tattoos.  The observance of this type of blossom, most often white or pink in color, is considered to be a meditation, as the limited lifespan of the flower mirrors the fleeting nature of external beauty in the modern world.

 flowers in traditional Japanese tattoo

In Hawaii, flowers have a social significance as well, being worn by women in their hair historically as an indicator of marital status.  A hibiscus behind the left ear indicates that the heart is taken, whilst when worn behind the right ear, it means that the maiden is single.

 the culture of hibiscus

With the resurgence of decidedly European retro tattoo art, the rose has made perhaps the most enormous comeback though.  Having once been inked across the arms or hands of many a Western European, Scandinavian, and American sailor, the rose has carried many meanings throughout the decades.  Most commonly though it represented the undying love of a special woman, whether a mother, daughter, or lover.

 flowers in American tattoo

There are many different flowers, and almost innumerable reasons to include them in body art, but as the future of the tattoo is yet to unfold, we may see even more popular floral motifs in the coming years, each more beautiful as the time goes on.

by Lorna

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