The rose is an icon that carries meaning in almost every culture across the globe.

Such worldwide appreciation allows tattoo artists to incorporate the rose into designs from almost any genre, and skilled artists can take advantage of the icon’s vivid color and many subtle details to create for you a tattoo that impresses the eye while carrying significant personal meaning.

The Rose Icon Throughout History

In Christianity, the red rose became the symbol of the Virgin Mary during the third century AD. During that time, theologians believed that the Garden of Eden was decorated with thornless roses, which only grew thorns after the Fall of Adam and Eve. As a result, the thorns came to represent Original Sin, and the Virgin Mary was often called the rose without thorns.

In Greek culture, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was often depicted holding roses. Mythology claims those roses were picked from a bush that grew in a pool of blood shed by her slain lover, Adonis. Based on this legend, the rose was said to represent love that could not be limited by time, space, or even death.

The Romans coined the phrase sub rosa, which literally means under the rose. Roses were hung in banquet halls to serve as a signal that all conversations taking place there were to be kept in the strictest of confidence.

Deep Symbolism Found in Rose Tattoos

The rose icon is often associated with strong emotions, which can include:

  • Love
  • Excess
  • Passion
  • Wealth
  • Deep emotion
  • Vulnerability
  • Persistence
  • Triumph
  • Mourning

Hope is another prominent concept that is associated with this flower—hope for love or any other deep-seated need a person might experience in their life.

The positive meanings associated with the flower and petals are often counterbalanced with the thorns in a dichotomy or contrasting relationship, such as:

  • Good and evil
  • Gentleness and harshness
  • Love and heartache

Fortune tellers utilize the rose on four different tarot cards with distinct meanings:

  • The Magician—the creator and keeper of wisdom
  • The Fool—a character holding a white rose that symbolizes purity and a peaceful mind
  • Death—a concept that is knowable, irreverent, and intentional
  • Strength—the mind and body balance

Roses tattoos often incorporate other classic tattoo icons, such as:

  • Daggers
  • Skulls
  • Faces

(Read about other popular tattoo icons that could be used in your rose tattoo design here.)

The complexity of both symbolism and design can be used to communicate a depth of emotions, which make the rose tattoo ideal for individuals who want to tell a story through their ody bart.

Rose Tattoos—The Meanings Found in Color

One of the most distinguishing qualities of the rose is a wide variety of vivid colors, each conveying a different meaning. The following are some popular examples:

  • Yellow roses—joy, protection against jealousy, or mature love
  • White roses—purity, mysticism, or secretive affection
  • Red roses—romance, passionate love, sacrifice, or memorial
  • Pink roses—innocence, first love, or healing
  • Blue roses—the unattainable or the impossible
  • Black roses—death, farewell, or memorial

On the other hand, impactful rose tattoos often are created without color, rendered in a stark black-and-grey tradition that focuses on intricate line work to bring out the subtle and detailed beauty.

Considering a Rose Tattoo?

Roses have always been one of the most popular tattoo icons chosen by customers looking for a timeless design due to their use of vivid colors and versatility of meaning—an icon that can be used in a truly wide range of designs as simple or as complex as you’d like.

Consider coming in for an appointment to discuss a custom design, exploring with the artist the amazing possibilities that timeless rose tattoos offer.

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