The lotus flower has a rich and deep historical significance to many cultures across the Eastern world. It is a flower steeped in tradition, mythology, and culture and has only recently been recognized for its beauty throughout the rest of the world as well.
Part of the appeal of this plant is its beauty, being a selection of wonderful colors with unfurling petals that sits delicately on the water top of any river or pond.
It has been seen in monasteries, high in the mountains, in royal gardens, surrounded by turtles or terrapins, and now people want to display that ecstatic visage on their skin.
As a design it is not one to fault, and it can be molded to whatever vision you have in your mind, however maybe you are having trouble defining the significance of the flower to you, maybe you don’t know how you feel about it or feel a connection with that will make it feel right on your skin.
Well, fret not, for in this article we will delve into the true significance and symbolism that lotus flower tattoos can hold and why it’s good for you to have one as a tattoo.
Origins And History
One of the great things about Lotus flowers is how old they truly are, with seeds of the lotus being found in China from over 3,000 years ago. In fact, a seed from the sacred lotus flower was able to germinate in the modern day, despite the seed itself being well over 1300 years old.
The flower itself has a widespread native range, from north and central India, through Southeast Asia, and all the way up to the Amur River along the border of northern China and Russia.
Throughout humanity’s long history of interacting with the plant, its distribution has spread even further to Sri Lanka, all of Southern Asia, and even to Australia.
The reason for this distribution is not only religious or cultural, but practical, as almost all the plant can be eaten, from its roots to its leaves and its fibers even produce lotus silk, which is still used in Buddhist robes today.
Beyond all these reasons though, the beauty and durable nature of the lotus has given it an ethereal quality, and it has become sacred to many cultures and religions.
In Hinduism, the lotus flower is seen in iconography as a throne upon which deities reside, it is often cited in Puranic and Vedic texts as representative of someone or something untouched by sinful actions.
This is similar to Buddhism, where the flower is seen as rising from the muddy waters around it unstained and as such the Buddha is regularly compared to the flower, free from defilement and pure in body, speech, and mind.
Even Christianity has some reverence for the lotus flower, with St Thomas Christians and some followers of the Church of the East having their sacred crosses depicted atop a stylized lotus flower, in depictions that have continued to this day.
This reverence goes beyond religious practices, as the flower has also been discussed in poetry and literature to a great extent, with the lotus being used as a common representative for perfection and purity.
It even extends to naming conventions and national symbols, where many names have been created based on the original Sanskrit name for the lotus: Padma, and many flags have been adorned with the humble lotus flower.
Meaning And Symbolism
Being a flower that has defined some of the world’s great religions and cultures, both in the past and in the present, the meanings and symbolism of the lotus is great and varied.
All lotus flowers have a unique cycle of life and death, in that they can survive in some of the most waterlogged and difficult conditions, and they submerge at night under the water, only to reappear the next morning in full bloom and completely untouched by the water’s dirt and silt.
This cycle has inspired many cultures and gives the lotus a reputation for rebirth and renewal, with some believing in lotus’ immortality as well.
However, for each type of lotus flower, there is also a unique meaning behind their appearance, a meaning many adhere to and believe in:
White Lotus Flowers
The white lotus is probably the most well known of the flowers and is revered by almost all cultures. It represents purity of mind and body, serenity, and fertility.
The white lotus is also likened to pureness of heart, thanks to the legend of it staying clean in the dirtiest of waters.
Yellow Lotus Flowers
These flowers are recommended for students of any subject due to their connections to knowledge, creativity, and confidence.
They are also said to symbolize spiritual enlightenment, aiding our spirits in ascending beyond the body and circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Red Lotus Flower
The red lotus represents the strength of positive loving emotions. Many carry the red lotus as an emblem of selfless love, compassion, and sympathy, and it holds deep physical and spiritual connections to the heart and the passions of the soul.
It is even used as a representation of a Bodhisattva, Avalokiteśvara, one who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.
Blue Lotus Flower
The blue lotus is one of the rarer lotus flowers, with its unique rich blue color enchanting all those who look at it. This color of lotus is said to symbolize wisdom, in one’s own ideas and in response to the ideas of others, the subjugation of one’s emotions, and the complete awareness of the senses.
Those who embody wisdom in culture and religion are often defined by the blue lotus.
Pink Lotus Flower
The pink lotus flower is deeply tied to Buddhism and Buddhist belief with the Buddha himself represented by the pink lotus flower.
Thanks to this association, the flower is said to symbolize creation, higher planes of enlightenment, purity and be sacrosanct in its existence.
Purple Lotus Flower
Although not the rarest of the lotus flowers, the color purple is a particularly rare color in nature. As such, this flower is considered mystical and associated with the unknown and spiritual areas of the world, where the fold between reality and the other world bends and sway.
The eighth petal of this flower is thought of as the same as the noble eightfold path, one of the main teachings of Buddhism.
Styles Of Lotus Tattoo
There are many styles of lotus tattoo that you can get, along with the variation of colors. The difference in styles often equates to where on the body you want the tattoo and where on your life’s path do you sit.
For example, if you want a lotus tattoo on your back, there are a lot of options as there is a large surface area, so fully open and adorned lotuses are easier to do in this area.
The opening and closing of the lotus can also have significant meaning, with a closed lotus often being representative of the time before you found a certain meaning or enlightenment in your life.
This is commonly linked to Buddhist belief about the paths of enlightenment and the time before finding Buddhism, but the enlightenment can be anything that you choose.
It can be the time before you became sober, or the time before you found the love of your life or your chosen career. It’s up to you.
The open lotus dictates full awareness and enlightenment and is an exact opposite to the closed lotus. This shows the time now, when you are enlightened after an event. This is good for accepting yourself and your goals and the success you’ve had, no matter how little it may be.
Together, these two symbols can be used to show the start and the end of a significant journey in your life and are a good way to define how you feel things are going.
The lotus flower is an important symbol throughout the world, it holds as much sway in many cultures as the cross does in the Western world and, sometimes, even more.
As a tattoo, it can symbolize the struggles you’ve had, the beauty you’ve held on to in your heart, and the wisdom you have carried with you, while remaining an incredibly intricate and beautiful design.
Whatever meaning or definition you have for your lotus tattoo, know that thousands of years of culture are there to back up your reason for getting it inked on your body.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does It Mean To Have The Lotus Tattoo?
It can mean a great many things dependent on the culture and the person who is getting it. For example, if you are a staunch Buddhist, you may consider getting the tattoo to symbolize your faith and the achievement of enlightenment.
If you are Hindu, you may get the tattoo for its cultural significance to India and its representation of the gods. Or you may get the tattoo of the lotus simply because it is your favorite flower. It is up to you.
What Does A Lotus Flower Mean In Christianity?
To a few branches of Christianity, the lotus flower is revered and viewed as a symbol of purity, the creation of the universe, and divinity.
The cross of Christianity in the east is often depicted standing on top of a lotus flower, showing that the lotus holds up divine symbols.
What Does A Lotus Flower Mean To People?
The lotus flower has many meanings. In practical terms, it is a crop where every part of the plant can be cooked and eaten, and it can be used to make clothes.
In spiritual terms, it is a divine flower that represents many gods and goddesses across many faiths. In cultural terms, it is thought of highly in many countries as a symbol of purity, life, and rebirth.
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