Rose tattoo meanings
Rose tattoos are one of the most popular tattoo designs for men and women in Western civilization. In fact, the rose tattoo is equally as popular in Western cultures as the lotus is in Eastern cultures, both flowers representing similar symbols of beauty and femininity. Rose tattoos can be found either on their own, as a small part of a larger body tat, or in a variety of other rose tattoo designs, differences which signify what the rose tat is meant to represent. In the past, rose tattoos symbolized very specific meanings, usually inked as a tribute to a loved one, a spouse or a child.
Today, rose tattoos have come to mean a variety of different things depending on the wearer’s choice of color, location and design. Even minute changes in a rose tattoo, such as in its color or the image accompanying the rose, can have a significant impact on the meaning of the rose tattoo. For example, a red tattoo inked over a man’s heart with a name below could be meant as a tribute to a loved one lost. A white rose tattoo inked with a butterfly on a woman’s body, however, could mean something as different as purity or innocence in youth. So, if you’re considering a rose tattoo, make sure you pay special attention to what your rose tattoo will mean once it’s finished!
History of the rose tattoo
The rose plant was first grown in ancient Persia, during which time the flower was considered to be a symbol of masculinity. Over the next several thousand years, the image of a rose took on a number of different meanings and eventually came to be associated with beauty and elegance. During this time, the rose tattoo became quite popular among women and, despite its link to femininity, among men as well. In fact, sailors in the 1930s and 1940s were one of the first to embrace the symbolism of the rose tattoo, often getting a rose inked on their bodies in honor of the wife or girlfriend they left behind when they went out to sea. Life was rough for sailors in those days, and their rose tattoos often brought them peace because of what they represented. In recent years however, rose tattoo meanings have come to represent a variety of different things.
Meaning of a rose tattoo
We can probably all agree that the most common meaning of a rose tattoo is love. However, this rose tattoo meaning came about in different ways for the various cultures of the world. Perhaps the most fitting origin of the rose tattoo meaning love falls to the ancient Greeks, who believed the rose was originally white in color. According to Greek mythology, the rose turned to red when the goddess of love, Aphrodite, pricked herself on a rose thorn and bled on the blossoms. While the image of a rose may be closely linked to falling in love, many believe that a rose with thorns warns those falling in love to proceed with caution. The meaning of a rose tattoo with thorns, therefore, may represent the fact that love does not come without certain sacrifices, some of which may be painful.
Rose tattoo color meanings
The image of the rose and its associated meanings fascinated the Victorians, and they decided to assign each rose colors its own unique meaning. Pay careful attention to this differentiation, because color is an important factor to take into consideration when deciding what rose tattoo you want to get.
- Red rose – True love, passion, respect
- White rose – Innocence, purity, youth
- Pink rose – Elegance, grace, gentleness
- Coral rose – Desire
- Black rose – Death, darkness
- Orange rose – Excitement, enthusiasm
- Yellow rose – Jealousy (historically); friendship, joy, devotion (modern times)
- Blue rose – Fascination, fantasy (the blue rose does not actually exist in nature; all blue roses are either white or lavender roses that have been dyed blue)
Black rose tattoo meaning
As you read above, the meaning of a black rose tattoo traditionally represents death or darkness, and it could also symbolize grief and sorrow. For this reason, many people use black rose tattoos as a tribute to a friend or family member who has passed away. In other cultures, black roses have come to mean very different things. Early Irish warriors, for example, considered the black rose a poetic representation of rebellion against the British, since the red rose was a staunch British symbol. In other cultures however, the meaning of a black rose tattoo symbolizes the end of a long and arduous journey. For this reason, many soldiers get black rose tattoos inked on their bodies after they return home from war. The most interesting thing about the black rose is that it’s not actually black. What appears to be a black rose is actually a rose that is deep purple in color.
Rose and skull tattoo meaning
Although skull tattoos typically hold a negative connotation, some skull tattoo meanings are actually positive, especially those accompanied by a rose tattoo. The most common meaning of a skull tattoo is death and mortality, similar to a black rose tattoo. However, other skull tattoo meanings include power, strength, protection, or overcoming obstacles, depending on the skull tattoo design. For this reason, rose and skull tattoo meanings can can mean anything from death and darkness to respect and getting over a tough time in one’s life.
Rose tattoos with other images
Because rose tattoos meaning love are so popular, it’s natural that some people would get rose tattoos to mean love of someone or something, by inking a rose tattoo along with another image. Rose tattoos inked with a cross, for example, could represent a relationship with God if that person practices Christianity, or a rose and cross tattoo meaning could symbolize a loved one lost. Rose tattoos are also often depicted with a butterfly, as a butterfly tattoo meaning traditionally represents beauty and femininity as well.
Popular rose tattoo designs
Even though rose tattoos are extremely popular these days, it doesn’t mean all rose tattoos are alike. Some people choose to just use just the bloom in a rose tattoo, while others incorporate the entire rose, or even a rose bush. There are countless other ways in which a rose tattoo could be designed to make it truly unique for the wearer, including inking a person’s name along with the rose, or including other images like a butterfly, skull or cross in the rose tattoo. Because rose tattoos traditionally represent love, many married couples will opt for matching rose tattoos as a tribute to their devotion to one another. Other couples choose to have their children’s names incorporated into a rose tattoo, again, as a symbol of their everlasting love. Depending on the size of the rose used, rose tattoos can be inked virtually anywhere on the body. For men, rose tattoos are often inked on the arm, shoulder, back or leg, while women usually opt for more delicate rose tattoos on the foot, ankle, shoulder or wrist.