Anytime you think about any word, a specific image is called upon in your vision. For example, thinking about a dog may lead some to think of a German Sheppard, while others may see a Chihuahua.
The word ‘tattoo’ is very likely to bring about the images of the more popular, classic tattoos, and what image is more popular or widely enjoyed` than the rose? Incorporated into as many designs as there are personality types, in western culture this hugely popular symbol can mean anything from femininity, sexuality, love and a host of other meanings. It’s hardly a surprise that roses turn up so often in tattoo designs.
The rose began to appear in tattoos during the 1930’s, a time when tattoos became more popular in general. It is thought that tattooing became more popular when the Social Security program was launched; this was a period in our history when many new programs were being implemented and a lot of citizens had trouble memorizing all the new numbers they were given. Since there wasn’t exactly a huge concern over internet piracy or identity theft back in the 30’s, this was an easy way for people to keep their numbers handy.
Tattoo shops began to see their sales almost double around this time, and so there are a lot of designs that we think of today as the ‘classics’ that arose around this time.
There are a vast number of rose tattoo designs, meanings, and ways that they are incorporated into a design – some of which may include:
- Femininity – Roses are often strategically placed on a woman’s body to highlight areas that the wearer would like to highlight. In addition, roses –whether or not they are the focus of the tattoo – bring a feminine touch to any design, even more ‘masculine’ tattoos such as weaponry.
- Spiritual allegiance – Roses are commonly used to border tattoos depicting a thorny crown, sacred heart, Buddha, or any number or religious images.
- Sexuality – Symbolism used to signify sexuality can be positive or have a darker meaning; for example, a bed of roses beneath a woman might signify confidence, power, or owning one’s sexuality, while thorny roses are sometimes used to signify a rough sexual history that one has overcome.
- Love – This is probably the most common metaphor for roses. This meaning is used in tattoos that pay tribute to loved ones, those created to represent a relationship, or even to signify that one is unlucky in love or that love remains elusive.
- Tribute – Roses appear frequently within tattoos that are created for loved ones who have passed on, and the wearer may select a color based on the relationship shared with the deceased.
The meaning of each color is sometimes disputed – however, for the most part the most popular meanings are essentially accepted as the following:
- Red – love (usually the more romantic understanding of love), passion, courage, a congratulatory gesture, respect,
- Yellow – Friendship, jealousy, delight, remembrance, new beginning
- White – innocence, heavenly, purity/virginity, bridal, youthfulness, reverence, silence
- Pink – admiration, joy, elegance and/or grace, sympathy, sweetness
- Peach – appreciation, sincerity, modesty, gratitude
- Orange – desire, enthusiasm
- Lavender – love at first sight, enchantment
- Black – although the black rose is not found in nature, it is a popular figure that can represent death, farewell/goodbye, sorrow, loss, love that continues after death, dying love, and sometimes it can stand for beliefs or an affiliation such as: black magic, anarchy, and back in the times when England restricted the direct reference of Ireland as a sovereign nation, the black rose was used as a symbol for Ireland, which was commonly tattooed as a symbol of allegiance to this nation as its own entity.
In addition to the color meanings, some consider there to be additional or more specific meanings based on whether the color is lighter, darker, and colored tips on the flower can also change the meaning.
Whatever your tastes might be, roses are so universal that they can find a comfortable place among any tattoo choice.