If you have any ink yourself, I’m sure the following will be familiar to you. There’s a greeting card that features an illustration of a woman, standing on a chair at the tattoo shop in her shirt and panties. The artist is tattooing her left buttock with the image of a large nose. The screamed caption is “I said a ROSE, you idiot, a Rose!” With the adaptation of that design for both birthday and Valentine’s Day, I’ll bet I’ve received that card three or four times a year for the last five years.
The rose tattoo has been a mainstay of Western tattooing for decades now. Not only was it a popular way for sailors in the 40s to honor a wife or girlfriend at home, but it was seen as an image suitable for a woman who wished to get a tattoo. It is as ever present in American tattoos as the peony is in Japanese tattooing.
Roses can be tattooed singly, grouped as a bouquet or as a trailing vine. Roses can be full blossoms or tiny buds, shown with or without stems and/or thorns. The plant itself originated in ancient Persia where it was viewed as a masculine flower, however several thousand years of cultivation has produced many variations and the symbolism now relates more strongly to beauty and femininity.
One of the most important aspects of the rose is the color. Ancient Greeks myths have the rose being white until one day when the goddess Aphrodite pricked herself on the thorns, and her blood drops turned the blossoms red. The Victorians were very much fascinated with flower symbolism, having assigned emotional attributes and qualities to all the color variations. Listed below are some of the color variations you might consider if you wish to wear a rose tattoo.
Red - Passion, true love (esp. a single rose), “I love you”
Yellow - To the Victorians, this meant jealously. In modern times, this color is viewed as expressing friendship or familiar love. Texans might chose this as a reference to the song.
Orange - Excitement and enthusiasm
Blue - The quest for a blue rose still is still the goal of many rose growers. Blue roses are really lavender or dyed white roses. Perhaps this is why it has come to symbolize fantasy, fascination and impossibility.
Purple - Love at first sight, enchantment
White - Innocence, purity, youth.
Pink - Elegance, grace, gentleness.
Black - In nature, these roses are really a deep purple that looks black, and carry connotations of darkness and death in Western culture. Goths might like to have a black rose tattoo.
Red & White - Both sides in England’s War of the Roses had this flower as their emblems (Lancaster - red, York - white), and the mix of both (the Tudor rose) has come to stand for unity, mercy and justice.
Of course, you can color your rose tattoo anyway you wish. Roses can be great stand-alone pieces of skin art, but they can also be belts around your waist or trail up or down a leg. Talk with your tattooist for a one-of-a-kind rose that’s just right for you.
If you are looking for rose designs, you might like the following:
Roses Vol 1 or Roses Vol 2