Few flowers harbor as many complex meanings as the rose. Each color, pattern, species, and number of petals holds a unique meaning.
Historically, the rose has been prominently featured for centuries, from the ancient frescos of Rome to the modern digital art of today. Body art is no exception, as roses are one of the most popular tattoo designs after gaining prominence in the 1930s when sailors would get rose tattoos to remind them of women they loved when they were away at sea.
It’s not difficult to see roses are so popular – as far as flowers go, you can’t beat the fragrant, full-bodied blooms of the rose.
In this article, we will explore the history and symbolism of the blue rose tattoo and discuss designs that range from the simple to the complex.
What is the History of Blue Rose Tattoos?
One of the first instances of the blue rose in culture and art is in Asian folklore, with a Chinese fairytale one of the most well-known stories featuring the importance of the blue rose.
What Do Blue Rose Tattoos Symbolize?
One of the most interesting aspects of the blue rose is that it doesn’t occur in nature but can be dyed or cultivated through genetic engineering.
It is because of their unique existence that causes the blue rose to symbolize the unattainable, the impossible, or the mysterious.
The Legend of the Blue Rose
The blue rose holds a significant place in Chinese mythology.
In Chinese folklore, the blue rose symbolizes perfect, immortal love. The Chinese fairytale “The Legend of the Blue Rose” is perhaps the best example of this symbolism.
According to this tale, a Chinese princess was engaged to be married, but had one stipulation for her suitors. She promised to only marry the man who presented her with a blue rose. While this discouraged many suitors from pursuing her, some remained determined to win her heart.
One suitor – a merchant – presented the princess with a rose painted blue, which he’d paid a florist for. The princess was not fooled and refused to marry him.
The next suitor threatened a man in a nearby village to find him a blue rose, with which he’d propose to the princess. The man carved a rose out of sapphire and gave it to the man, who presented it to the princess. The princess replied, “I will not marry a man whose heart is as cold as this stone.”
The third suitor hired a wizard to make a blue rose, and the wizard created the illusion of a blue rose in a box. The princess refused it, saying she would not marry a deceitful man.
Later that day, the princess is speaking with the gardener’s son, whom she truly loves. She says to her beloved that she wishes she could marry him, if only he presented her with a blue rose. The gardener’s son replied that he’d present a blue rose to her in the morning.
The next morning, the gardener’s son presented the princess with a white rose. Those in attendance pointed and whispered about the rose, knowing it was plain white, but the princess – being so in love with the gardener’s son – didn’t care, and proclaimed that the rose was blue. Her father, the emperor, said, “if the princess says the rose is blue, then it is blue.”
The princess and the gardener’s son were then married.
What Do Blue Rose Tattoos Mean?
Blue roses mean unattainable love, mystery, and the impossible. In Asian cultures, they are given as wedding or anniversary gifts to symbolize perfect, immortal love.
In broader modern terms, blue roses have come to symbolize several things, such as:
- Perfection (especially regarding love)
- The unattainable or impossible
- Endless possibilities
- The mysterious
- Unnatural beauty
- Unreachable/unattainable dreams
Characteristics and Styles of Blue Rose Tattoos
Designs featuring blue roses range from the simple to the complex.
The tattoo artist can add additional meaning to their blue rose designs through additional features like words or objects or choose them purely for aesthetic purposes. The possibilities are endless.
As blue roses don’t occur in nature, any shade of blue seems just as realistic as another. Baby blue, indigo, cobalt, denim, navy blue, the list goes on when choosing the shade for your blue rose design. The style itself can be realistic, cartoonish, geometric, watercolor, abstract, among far more.
Placement and size offer even more choices that can seem almost overwhelming.
Blue Rose Tattoo Design Options
- A blue rose tattoo may portray either a single rose, a few blossoms, or even a whole bouquet.
- Objects often featured with roses of any color are dragonflies, ladybugs, butterflies, animals, other flowers, or other nature symbols.
- Hearts, stars, and names are commonly seen in a blue rose design.
- While the styles are endless, many popular ones are tribal, geometric, watercolor, realistic, etc.
- The blue rose might display only the petals, or feature the leaves or stem
- The stem can be replaced by a trail of artwork, such as footprints, animal tracks, music notes, etc.
- Complementary colors help bring out the blue of the rose, such as oranges and yellows, which will help the most in making the blue rose itself pop. Complementary colors can be used in the background, or even in the edges or tips of the petals to add extra dimension to the rose.
- Black and white ink also helps the blue rose pop.
The form of a rose (bud, bloom, wilting, etc.) is important to consider when designing a blue rose tattoo. The forms and their meanings are as follows:
- A rosebud – means new beginnings or youth
- A full bloom – maturity, achievement, or growth
- A wilting rose – usually means the loss of a loved one
Where Do Blue Rose Tattoos Usually Go?
Blue rose tattoos can go anywhere. If you want to show off your tattoo, placement on the arms, legs, hands, shoulders, chest, and neck are the best options. Smaller blue rose tattoos can often be seen behind someone’s ear or on a wrist, ankle, hand, or foot.