Roses are some of the most common tattoo design choices for years now. If you don’t know what to get tattooed, you get a rose; that’s how common this type of design is, and for a reason. Roses create incredibly beautiful tattoo designs, they’re versatile, can be designed however you want, they’re easily incorporated into other designs, and of course, they vary in meaning.
The symbolism and meaning of a rose tattoo can be looked at in general or it has a personal, completely unique meaning that varies from person to person. Rose tattoos simply never get old and out of style. They’re a timeless design that will always be a classic tattoo choice.
However, despite it being common and classic, you should still learn a thing or two about the meaning of rose symbolism and design before making that final tattoo design decision. Therefore, we’ve gathered all the essential information in one place for you to get thoroughly familiar with it. So, without further ado, let’s get right into the article!
So, What Does Rose Tatoo Mean?
Roses Through History
For thousands of years, roses have been the most popular of flowers. And, at the same time, and for the unforeseeable future, roses have and will symbolize romance and beauty. They have been appreciated for their beauty and fragrance for as long as we’ve existed. As such, roses were used to adorn temples and palaces, and their petals were used to beautify waterways, palace pools, fountains, celebrations, feasts, and weddings. The proof of how important roses were and still are for the history of humans, our emotions, creativity, and expression can be seen in the following facts;
- The first time roses are mentioned in a written record was in 3000BC in what is nowadays known as Iraq.
- The first reference to the beauty of a rose and it being named as the ‘queen of the flowers’, was in 600BC by the Greek poetess Sappho.
- The first fossil record of a rose dates back 3.5 billion years.
- Rose is the largest and longest cultivated European plant in North America thanks to the colonists bringing it to the continent in the 16th century.
- Rose is America’s National Flower, as proclaimed in 1986 by president Ronald Raegan.
- Historically, roses pervaded the culture of medieval Europe. When it comes to European art, roses were the most used object in paintings, from the 15th to 17th century especially.
Now that we’re familiar with the importance of roses, it is time to actually tackle the meaning of roses, nowadays and throughout history.
For example, in the ancient world and civilizations, roses were often linked to deities and gods/goddesses. In ancient Greek civilization, for example, rose wreaths were worn by deities like Aphrodite, Eros, and Dionysus. The ancient Romans were also incredibly into rose ornaments and cosmetic products made from rose oil.
We also need to mention the festival Rosalia or Rosation, held every May in the Roman Empire. The festival’s purpose was for everyone, regardless of gender, to wear rose ornaments, on the head usually. Roses also played an important role in the religious, ceremonial, domestic, and economic life of the Roman Empire.
During the Renaissance and Golden Age, roses were seen as an irreplaceable motif in paintings and all of Renaissance art. It was believed that a painter who has mastered painting a rose is deserving of being called a master.
Marie Antoinette was also a big fan of roses. In her portraits, roses were omnipresent.
When it comes to modernism, we have to mention the surrealist painters, like Salvador Dali, being truly mesmerized by roses. For Dali, roses symbolized youth and beauty. As such, roses were also heavily present in Dali’s work in which he painted women with bouquets of roses. One of his well-known paintings showcases a rose floating in the sky, replacing the sun as the source of warmth. Below the rose in the painting, one can see a couple standing, which implies that the rose symbolizes love as well.
When it comes to religious interpretation, we have to mention the meaning of roses in Christianity. In this context, the rose symbolizes Virgin Mary. Roses are also believed to symbolize the Garden of Eden, considering it was filled with thornless roses. Such symbolism is closely tied with the Original Sin. Virgin Mary is also known to be referred to as ‘rose without thorns’.
Rose Tattoo Meaning: Color and Symbolizes
Roses in tattoos generally symbolize love, beauty, and of course, passion. However, depending on the size and the color of the tattoo, the symbolism and meaning can change. For example;
- White roses tattoo symbolizes innocence and purity. They can also stand for something sacred, divine, fragile, ethereal, eternal, and completely angelic in nature. As such, white roses are used to symbolize pure, unadulterated, unreserved love. It can also be used to symbolize religious divinity, the sacredness of one’s belief, and so much more.
- Red roses tattoo symbolizes deep, unquenchable love and passion, romance and are often seen as the most traditional, universal symbol of love. When it comes to tattoo designs, two red roses can symbolize the unity and love between two people, as well as the beauty of unity, togetherness, and passion.
- Yellow roses tattoo symbolizes joy, celebration, good times, and all the sunshine and positivity in our lives. These roses can also symbolize the relationship we have with ourselves, our self-care of ours, and how well we’re able to take care of ourselves and others, Yellow roses also stand for luck, warmth, happiness, and alongside red roses, even for good luck in romance and relationships.
- Black roses tattoo symbolizes the loss of love, one’s loss in general, and can even serve as a reminder of death. They have a generally bleak and dark meaning, but can also see as a source of mysterious beauty, one’s everlasting pain, or even the strength to overcome the pain. Paired with other roses, black roses’ meaning can be elevated into the meaning of farewell, tragedy, tragic love, or even power and confidence.
- Blue roses tattoo generally symbolizes the unattainable. They can also symbolize feelings, sensitivity, unrequited love, longing, etc.
- Pink roses tattoo symbolizes grace, elegance, sweetness, refinement, and femininity. They can also indicate happiness, satisfaction, being content and happy with your relationship and life. Pink roses also symbolize intensity, love, passion, as well as comfort, softness, and one being welcoming of new experiences, love, and happiness. Many also say pink roses symbolize sympathy and admiration, but this meaning varies in regards to the shade of the pink.
Moreover, a rosebud tattoo, regardless of the color, can symbolize new beginnings, a fresh start, and one’s road towards growth and maturity. It can also symbolize one fulfillment of dreams, something finally coming to fruition and completion. Generally, people get rosebud tattoos to show the stages of a rose’s life which symbolizes stages of our own lives, the struggle we go through to grow and mature; the struggle we go through to blossom and become the best version of ourselves.
Rose Tattoo Meaning Changes Across Cultures and Countries
Even though roses have a general, universal meaning and symbolism everyone recognizes and understands, the meaning of a rose tattoo, however, can change from one country/culture to the other. Here are some examples;
- In Central America, rose tattoos often symbolize one’s affiliation with a specific gang or even cartel. Roses in general also symbolize assault, someone being an enemy, death, mafia, and all things similar. Walking around with a rose tattoo around Central America will certainly raise some eyebrows.
- In Japan, a rose tattoo symbolizes one’s hope, love, and passion. Japanese rose tattoos are incredibly beautiful and they truthfully showcase the emotion behind the rose and its symbolism.
- In Ireland, a black rose is seen as a patriotic symbol, dating back to the 16th century. The patriotic symbolism stems from one of the most famous Irish political songs called Róisín Dubh. Even nowadays, the black rose has the same symbolism.
- In Russia, a rose tattoo usually implies one’s affiliation with the mafia or it can have a deeper, more philosophical meaning like fleeting youth, youth being torn away, loss of innocence, etc.
Hopefully, our insight into the world of roses, rose tattoos and the altogether meaning and symbolism was useful. We’ve gathered a lot of information, but we didn’t want to smother you with too much of them.
Of course, for more information about specific tattoo design meaning, make sure to talk to your tattoo artists. They will know the best what a specific design represents, or what it could represent alongside your unique design addition. And remember, a tattoo will have a meaning you want it to have. Sure, it may trigger some universal interpretations, but by creating a unique design with a tattoo artist, every tattoo design can become your own, even one so common as a rose tattoo design.