Rose tattoos are one of the most common flower tattoos around the world, the choice of both women and men. Roses are not only beautiful flowers, but have been a classic motif for a tattoo for decades and not only the blossoms but also motifs with stems. The meaning of the rose tattoo is considered to be one of the most diverse, and the symbol itself can be interpreted in different ways. Whether on your arm, leg, back, foot or shoulder, they look very delicate and if that is your choice for a tattoo you will have a beautiful one. Rose tattoos are often made with thorns and in this article we have selected some of the most amazing designs and will help you learn the different meanings of the rose tattoo.
Rose tattoos – with or without thorns?
What does the rose symbolize? According to the shape and color, it could have different meanings. You immediately think of love, passion, dedication, strength but there is much more behind this popular motif. In general, the flower is a symbol of love, beauty, youth, purity, holiness and rebirth. It embodies almost all positive features and meanings. Many people who chose this image believe that it reveals their external and internal beauty.
Roses are covered with thorns. They serve as protection against enemies. When it is depicted without thorns, it could symbolize the happy feeling of “being in love”. Thorns symbolize the fact that love rarely comes without obstacles which bring pain and suffering. The idea of pain is also connected with the thorns. If you want to have the beauty, you must accept the risk of being hurt. The symbolic pair of roses and thorns is associated with the dual nature of feelings – happiness and pain. Thorns also mean that the person pays more attention to his inner world, emphasizing that appearance can be deceiving. Interwoven flowers are a symbol of harmony. For example, a combination of roses with thorns and without thorns symbolizes the unity of the male and female beginnings. When choosing the design of your tattoo you need to keep in mind that each additional element and symbol will complement the main story and adds additional meaning.
The meaning of rose is different in different cultures and without any doubt, these flowers have a rich history.
In the myths of ancient Greece, this flower was associated with the goddess of love Aphrodite, who was often portrayed with roses. They adorn her head, neck, and feet. She was born from the foam of the sea with a white rosebush. The famous work of Botticelli “The Birth of Venus” depicts how roses are raining down from the sky as the goddess comes out of the sea and steps on the shore.
According to one of the myths, her beloved Adonis was killed by a wild boar while hunting. When Aphrodite learned of the death of Adonis, she went to the mountains of Cyprus to look for his body. She walked along steep mountain slopes and the sharp stones and the thorns wounded the goddess’s tender feet. Drops of blood fell down on the ground and left traces everywhere she went. At last Aphrodite found the body of Adonis. To keep the memory of her beloved Adonis forever, the goddess Aphrodite turned the blood drops that fell from his wounds onto the soil into anemone. Therefore, the rose symbolizes an immortal love that transcends time and death.
Other stories in mythology relate the rose to the God of Love, Eros, the letters of which when rearranged spell rose.
In Christianity this beautiful flower is a symbol of Mary, the mother of Jesus and the red color of the rose is connected with the holy blood and the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. The beautiful flower becomes a symbol of sacrifice and loss while the thorns are associated with Jesus’s crown of thorns and have become a symbol for suffering along with the cross which is the sign of sorrow. A red rose with five petals symbolizes the five wounds of Christ as well as his love and compassion while the white rose became a symbol of purity and virginity and represents the Blessed Virgin Mary. The symbol is often called “Mystic Rose”. Another religious (Christian) meaning of a red rose with fallen petals is the ideas for the drops of blood of the crucified Jesus Christ.
A tattooed rose in the Land of the Rising Sun is a symbol of power, pride and tenderness. In Chinese culture, a rose tattoo has a meaning of prosperity or the union of the male and female beginnings – yin and yang. In ancient Egypt, such tattoo was associated with the goddess Isis, the protectress of femininity and motherhood.
In addition to all of the above meanings, the rose very often is associated as a source of inspiration. For example, in the Ottoman literature there is a story that a nightingale has long been in love with a rose. He constantly sang her songs, and, embracing it, pierced himself with thorns. The scarlet blood colored the bud of the rose and made it even more attractive. Therefore, in the Ottoman culture, the rose is a symbol of unattainable love.
In the Middle Ages, a tattoo with roses was applied to prisoners who were sentenced to death. In combination with a cross, the rose was found in the symbolism of the Templars and Masons.
It is a curious fact that the rose, which was initially grown in Persia, was the flower of men. For the first time, as a tattoo on the body, this symbol was used by sailors, who went to sea for a long time. Such tattoos had the meaning of longing devotion to their wives. Nowadays, this tattoo is often the choice of men for whom their beloved women are of great importance and if you see a man with such a tattoo, you will know that his heart is busy, and this love is for a long time.
We have to mention that each individual part of this flower also has a different meaning which varies depending on the image of the flower: the shape and size of the bud, color, the presence of thorns, etc. The leaves are a symbol of joy and fun, sharp thorns mean sorrow and sadness, and the flower itself – glory and nobility. The color of this flower is also important and below you will find the meaning of the different colors.
Here are some of the main variations:
- A straight, unbroken flower stem is a symbol for stoic natures.
- A broken stem can be interpreted as an internal break of the person.
- A plant without thorns symbolizes the first, pure and tender love of a person and most often love at first sight.
- Roses with thorns are associated with obstacles and pain. For others, thorns are a symbol of protection, strength and masculinity. A large number of thorns is a sign of melancholy and despair while many leaves are a sign of joy.
- The larger the bud of the rose, the stronger is the person’s desire for fame and glory.
- A withered rose stands for separation.
- The number of petals also has a certain meaning and many people believe that it has a strong connection to numerology. A plant with seven petals speaks about inclusion and order, and with eight – about rebirth.
As you see, the meaning of a rose tattoo can be very interesting and often – sacred. A rose has been and will always be the most adored and mysterious flower, and its perfection will be admired for thousands of years.
Where to place a rose tattoo on the body and how to choose the color?
When selecting your tattoo motif, consider the size and color of the roses, as well as the body part where the tattoo is to be placed. The most popular body parts for a rose tattoo are the arm and the shoulders, although, this flower looks great on any part of the body from the neck to the foot. The only difference, of course, is that a rose tattoo on the shoulder (or on the back) gives more room for the imagination of the tattoo artist, since it is possible to apply a larger image. Typically, women prefer roses on their feet and men choose the back or the shoulder. The tattoo can have any size you like and you can choose a design in black or in color. Rose tattoos are versatile – they can embrace the foot like a chain or decorate larger body parts such as the back and the belly. Placed on shoulders, ankles or wrist, these decorative tattoos always look graceful and expressive at the same time.
The meaning of the rose varies according to color as well. Victorians believed that the color of the rose is able to change its meaning and quality, so consider this factor when choosing a design:
- Red stands for true love, passion, romance, respect and at the same time symbolize beauty and perfection;
- Pink symbolizes elegance and refinement, attractiveness, elegance, softness;
- A coral rose would mean desire;
- Orange – enthusiasm, eagerness, attraction;
- Peach – modesty, friendship, gratitude, respect and appreciation;
- Yellow roses were once a symbol of jealousy. But nowadays they stand for joy, happiness, optimism and friendship.
- White symbolizes purity, innocence and modesty, a new beginning, spiritual love, youth;
- Purple – charm, love at first sight;
- Blue – inspiration, imagination, impossibility (mainly because blue roses do not exist in nature);
- Black roses symbolize death, darkness, sadness and mysticism (in nature a rose, which we consider black, is actually dark purple);
- A golden rose is the emblem of the Pope and became a symbol of perfection;
- White and red roses – mercy, union, justice;
- Yellow-orange roses: passionate thoughts, obsessive thoughts.
Rose tattoo ideas for men and women
There is a huge number of different rose tattoo designs. Very often, the rose is not the only image and its symbolism is intertwined with the meaning of other symbols. Here are some of the most popular ones:
A rose and a butterfly: the most natural combination;
Rose and inscription: the names of lovers or close people are usually written near the rose;
Rose and dagger: very passionate feelings or relations in the style of “love-hate”;
Rose and barb wire: love causes pain and suffering;
Rose and cross: a tattoo in memory of a loved one;
Rose and skull: a memorial tattoo that speaks of your sorrow because of the loss of a loved one;
A pair of roses: a couple can choose the same design to emphasize their love and devotion.
A symbol that is enjoying a great popularity in recent years is the infinity mark. The advantage of this tattoo motif is that it is easily combined with other elements. Because of its meaning of eternity, the symbol can be interpreted quite differently. In connection with rose tattoos it could stand for eternal love.
You can combine roses with elements that look like lace. Without thorns the rose loses its defensive character and the combination looks feminine, romantic and very beautiful.