23 Lion Tattoo Design Ideas (Meaning and Inspirations)

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Lion as a tattoo design choice has already become mainstream in the tattoo culture and industry. Nevertheless, people are still intrigued by such tattoos, depicting this mesmerizing cat, not only because of the way it looks but also because of the symbolism it carries. Lion tattoos are known to be exceptional and unique in design, and when we combine that with deep and meaningful symbolism, one cannot simply turn down a lion tattoo idea.

So, if you’re looking for a design idea for your new tattoo, you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs we’ll take a look at the common meanings and symbolism of a lion tattoo, and the best design ideas you can also choose from and be inspired by. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Lion Tattoo – Meaning And Symbolism Explained

Lion Tattoo Meaning And Symbolism Explained
Image Source: Saved Tattoo

Just like any animal-inspired tattoo, a lion tattoo can carry an abundance of different meanings and symbolism. Although anyone can ascribe new meaning to their own lion tattoo, we’ll go over some of the most common and usual meanings of a lion tattoo;

Power And Masculinity

Being the King of the Jungle, a lion usually symbolizes power, masculinity, and leadership. Lions, outside the tattoo design, are generally huge cats, weighing up to 200kg. They can also grow to be over 2.5m long, so no wonder lion is described as a beast. Many men recognize themselves in the symbolism of a lion, so to showcase their masculinity and strength, they get a lion tattoo. Lion tattoos depicting power and masculinity are often big and placed on the body where they’ll be visible, like on the chest, back, bicep area, etc.

Courage and Fearlessness

Alongside their leadership and strength, lions are known to be courageous and fearless. Their bravery has been depicted in cultures around the world, and even to this day lions are portrayed in movies and cartoons as the brave and fearless leaders of the jungle. So, people who identify with such characteristics often get a lion tattoo. Such tattoos can depict one’s ability to go through tough times, and one’s fearlessness to fight whatever comes their way. Because of such powerful symbolism, lion tattoos symbolizing courage and fearlessness are often big and visible.

Pride and Family (Motherhood)

While men get a lion tattoo to depict masculinity and leadership, women get a lioness tattoo to honor their motherhood, family, and being the providers of the family. In a pack of lions (called a pride), the lioness is the true provider for the family, as she hunts and raises the ‘children’. Because of this, many women who are mothers and have children tend to get a lioness tattoo, often featuring cubs as representative of their children. Such tattoos are often very delicate, colorful, and feminine. They can vary and size, but the majority of lion tattoos for women tend to be medium-sized.

Peace And Harmony

Even though lions are depicted as these powerful beasts, one cannot overlook their ability to lead their packs peacefully and take care of their family by protecting them from other animals. That is why lions are popular symbols of peace and harmony, especially in modern, popular culture. Probably the most common lion symbol in regards to peace and harmony comes from The Lion King, or the Simba’s friendship with other animals, like Timon and Pumba. Some people get winged lion tattoos to depict the peaceful symbolism, while others go for the more popular, cultural images originating in animated movies, as explained earlier

Lion Tattoo Design – Explained

Lion Tattoo Design Explained
Image Source: Saved Tattoo

Lion Tattoo Color

When it comes to lion tattoos, you can go for a design that doesn’t require coloring. However, many people want to emphasize the beauty and symbolism of a lion by going for a colored tattoo. So, in that sense, we can say that the most popular color schemes for lion tattoos stem from the colors of nature and the lion’s natural habitat. We’re talking shades of brown, dark yellow, green, sometimes even a splash of red, etc.

Some people, however, go for a colorful lion/lioness tattoo, in regards to what they want it to symbolize. For example, women tend to get lioness tattoo with a lot of different colors, or even different auxiliary object, like flowers, butterflies, cubs, forests, etc. Men, on the other hand, like to get lion tattoos in tribal designs, strong, bold colors, and nature imagery.

When it comes to lion tattoos derived from cartoon characters, we can say that they’re often colored in line with the cartoon colors. Some people do go with black and gray variations, but that is not common in cartoon-derived lion tattoos.

Position Of The Lion In The Tattoo

The design of a lion tattoo largely depends on the very position of the lion in the design. The position of the tattoo can also depend on the potential placement of the tattoo on the body, but for now, we’ll just go over some of the most common lion positions on a tattoo;

  • Lion laying down, being in a chill and lounging position, often in line with the symbolism of peace, royalty, harmony, etc.
  • Lion crouched or attacking, often in line with the symbolism of power, strength, courage, and masculinity.
  • Lion standing up on back legs, often in line with the tribal design and symbolism.

However, the lion on a tattoo doesn’t have to be in any of the aforementioned positions. The majority of lion tattoos only depict the head of the lion, with an emphasis on the face and the lion’s mane. When it comes to lioness tattoos, the tattoo can also only depict the head of the lioness, together with the cubs, for example, or surrounded by flowers.

Lion Tattoo Body Placement

When it comes to body placement, lion tattoos tend to be placed differently by men and women. For example, men tend to place their lion tattoo somewhere visible, like the back, the chest, shoulder, neck, bicep area, etc. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more mysterious about the placement of such a tattoo, so the common body placement is the abdomen area, upper and side of the back, upper thigh, inner arm, etc.

Nevertheless, both sexes tend to show off their lion tattoos more if the design is intricated and elaborate. Also, colored tattoos tend to be in more visible places than black/grey tattoos. After all, these are just common assumptions and conclusions. At the end of the day, you can place your lion tattoo wherever you want to and feel like would look great.

Lion Tattoo – Best Design Ideas And Body Placement

Before we recommend the best design ideas and best body placement, we have to show you a few interesting lion tattoo concepts, which carry a deep meaning but also have an exceptional design;

  • Cross lion tattoo – this tattoo design combines Christian or Biblical imagery with the imagery of a lion. The lion is often designed to be within the cross, with striking (usually colored) eyes. The tattoo is perfect for a forearm, chest, calf, or sleeve placement.
  • Asian lion tattoo – the Asian lion tattoos are particularly unique, especially the Japanese lion tattoos. They are known as Foo Dog or Karajishi tattoos, and they depict a lion that is a combination of a dog and a large cat. Such tattoo can carry a dual meaning, of the dog and the lion.
Asian lion tattoo
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  • Greco-Roman lion tattoo – lion was a popular symbol of strength and bravery in ancient Rome and the Greek empire. The lion played a significant role in Greco-Roman mythology, and to this day represents the strength and power of gods and mythological figures.
Greco Roman lion tattoo
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  • Astrological lion tattoo – such a tattoo design depicts the lion imagery derived from astrology. The lion zodiac sign is a fire element, so the tattoo can contain some fire imagery as well. The tattoo often carries the meaning of the astrological sign, which is bravery, leadership, justice, and adventure.
Astrological lion tattoo
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Lion Tattoo Sleeve

Regardless of whether you want a full or half sleeve tattoo, the lion design will be perfect. The majority of sleeve lion tattoos feature a fierce, powerful design that is generally black or grey. Most commonly men get such sleeve tattoos but some women tend to incorporate a medium-sized lion into their versatile sleeve tattoos as well. So, regardless of what symbolism you’re after, a sleeve tattoo will surely depict it properly so you can show it off with pride, just like a lion, or lioness.

  • Tattoo highlights – we have to mention that sleeve tattoos tend to be rather expensive. The price can go between  $4,000 and $8,000, depending on whether you’re doing a half or full sleeve. Getting a half sleeve tattoo will also be much faster, while a full sleeve may take several sessions to complete. The price may also change in regards to the detailing, shading, and coloring of the tattoo; colored lion sleeve tattoos tend to be the most expensive ones in this context.
Tattoo highlights with poker
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sunny day lion under the tree look at the deer
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lion missing the bird due to time past fast
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lion with his dears
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lion in the beautiful gardens full of flowers
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Lion Tattoo Chest

One of the best ways to express masculinity, strength, and courage is by placing the lion tattoo on the chest. Chest tattoos, especially when depicting such a strong and magnificent animal, tend to show what a Braveheart you truly are. Such tattoos show you’re genuinely strong, if not physically then in character, or both. Some women also tend to get lion chest tattoos to show their ability to lead or overcome challenges. The chest is an excellent area to get an experimental, unique lion tattoo, and play with colors, shapes, and symbols as well. So, if you’re feeling courageous, we surely recommend you go with a lion chest tattoo and a unique tattoo design.

  • Tattoo highlights – lion chest tattoos can vary in size and style, so the price fluctuates accordingly. Of course, black and grey, as well as smaller tattoos will be cheaper, usually up to $2,500, while larger, more intricate and colored chest tattoos go up to $5,000. We have to point out that chest tattoos tend to hurt since the skin is thinner and there are a lot of nerve endings. In some men and women, the chest area can be boney, so that also can contribute to higher pain levels.
Lion Tattoo Chest
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colorful lion so cute
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fire lion
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bling bling lion
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lion gave lioness a single red rose
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Lion Tattoo Back

Lion tattoos placed on the back are for those who really want to experiment and draw attention to the big lion on the upper or whole back. These tattoos are often huge and require several sessions to complete. However, they do allow you and your tattoo artists to experiment with the design and come up with something unique. You can even combine several lion images, or place the lion in the center of the back and surround it with other objects, lines, animals, shapes, or anything important and meaningful to you.

  • Tattoo highlights – because lion back tattoos tend to be huge, you can expect the tattoo to be rather costly and time/labor-intense. Detailed and colored lion back tattoos can cost up to $5,000, in some cases, even more, depending on the actual tattoo size. Some smaller tattoos, placed on the side or the center of the back, can cost up to 2,500. Bear in mind that back tattoo hurt the most in the area close to the spine, so if you want to avoid pain issues, go for a back tattoo that is located more towards the sides of the back.
Lion Tattoo Back the king of the world
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moonlight was silver the lion
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Lion Tattoo Back lion under palms
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Lion Tattoo Back lion with rich hair
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Lion Tattoo Back lion with half of his face
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Lion Tattoo Thigh

If you want to get an awesome lion tattoo but don’t want to endure a lot of pain, we recommend you go for the thigh area. Here, you can get an awesome big tattoo without fearing hours of pain and discomfort. The reason for this lies in the thickness of the skin in the thigh area and the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of nerve endings. Not to mention that the tattoo looks amazing on a thigh, and you can easily cover it just by wearing pants, or a longer skirt if you’re a woman. However, during summer and on the beach, the tattoo will mesmerize everyone once you uncover it.

  • Tattoo highlights – with a thigh tattoo you can go crazy as much as you want. This is a perfect body placement if you want to experiment with the design, shapes, and size of the tattoo. You can go for a smaller or medium lion design, which could cost up to $2,500, or a larger design (that can even go up to the lower back over the buttock area), which could cost up to $6,000. Remember, the price will increase if the tattoo is highly detailed or colored.
Lion Tattoo Thigh
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 Lion Tattoo Thigh lion like flowers
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Lion Tattoo Thigh lion with peony
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Lion Tattoo Thigh lion with sunflowers
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Lion Tattoo Thigh finally lioness received the rose
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Final Thoughts

We hope you liked our little insight into the world of lion tattoos. We tried to bring you closer to the lion tattoo meaning and symbolism, as well as some cool design ideas and body placement recommendations. For more information regarding the designs (and their alterations) as well as the body placement, pain levels and cost make sure to talk to a professional tattoo artist. For now, we’ll leave you with these awesome tattoos so you can get truly inspired. So, good luck, and may your next tattoo be awesome!

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