The Lotus Flower Tattoo
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The lotus flower tattoo has been a part of body art in Asia for a long time because the lotus has powerful meanings drawn from ancient cultures and religions.
Lotus Art in Buddhism
To Buddhists, the lotus represents the purity of enlightenment after the long toil of earthly existence because the pure, white flowers of the lotus unfold each morning out of muddy, standing water.
Because each lotus seed contains what appears to be the complete plant in miniature, it also represents the completeness of the soul before birth. Every person, like the lotus flower, is already perfect and is only waiting to emerge and grow into that perfection.
In the Buddhist tradition, lotus flowers of different colors have different meanings:
- The red lotus: is said to represent the human heart. A red lotus tattoo can represent love, loyalty, devotion or passion.
- The blue lotus: is usually represented as a partially opening bud. It stands for intelligence, mindfulness and learning.
- The pink lotus: represents the universal spirit of which we are all a part. A pink lotus tattoo is a deeply spiritual symbol. It is a statement of one's loving devotion to God.
- The purple lotus: is the flower of mysticism. Its traditional eight pedals represent the eight-fold path of enlightenment.
The Western Meaning of the Lotus Flower Tattoo
Here are 3 more meanings that fit better in the Western view of life:
- The lotus sheds its seeds at the same time that it sheds its flowers. To Buddhists, this means that the plant can represent an avatar, an ascended soul who chooses to return to earth to guide other souls to the light of Nirvana. In this context, a lotus flower tattoo represents heavenly guidance.
- Since the plant seems to come out of nowhere, it also stands for divine conception. The Buddha is said to have been born from a lotus, emerging pure from its perfect, white heart. In that light, a white lotus flower tattoo would mean purity, rebirth or new beginnings.
- A lotus can also represent someone's search for meaning.
Lotus Art in other cultures
In ancient China, the lotus was also revered. Its perfect beauty was said to inspire artists and poets to produce their best works. To contemplate the flower was to look into the very heart of perfection.
Meaning of the lotus in China:
- Because the stem of the lotus is so tough and resilient, the flower came to represent harmony and fidelity in the marriage.
- Because of the flawless vision of a pure, white flower breaking through the water, it was said to be like a beautiful woman stepping from a bath and came to be associated with the ideal of feminine beauty and grace.
The lotus was also an important symbol in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mythology tells of life on earth beginning when an immense lotus arose from the sea and bloomed.To the Egyptians, the flawlessly beautiful flower emerging each morning from seemingly empty waters represents:
- The formation of life from nothingness
As a tattoo design, this meaning is very similar to the Buddhist vision: rebirth and new beginnings.
Lotus Flower Tattoo Art
As you can see, the lotus has a wide range of meanings. The historic meaning of the lotus flower does not matter nearly as much as the meaning it holds for you. Whether it says “eternity,” “love” or “divine guidance,” the important thing is that its message says what you want it to say. And if anyone asks what your design means, you can explain it to them. After all, that is part of the fun of wearing body art, isn't it?
Color choices also matter when choosing body art. Dark reds and black speak of passion and deep emotion, for instance. These colors, paired with the red lotus of the heart, make an unmistakable statement about intense devotion. Gold and pale blue can be paired with the white lotus if your message is one of purity or holy guidance.
The lotus is also popular as a tribal design, usually completely black, sometimes with color accents.
Lotus Sleeve Tattoos
The lotus is often part of a sleeve tattoo, a design that covers the entire arm. Usually the images are interwoven and related to each other. The interlinking images that can surround a lotus flower will add clarity to the statement you are trying to make. An image of the Buddha, for example, would make it clear that you chose the lotus to represent enlightenment or new beginnings. Chinese art or characters would tell us that you meant the lotus to symbolize inspiration.
Here's a flash gallery with more lotus designs: