Iris Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Iris Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Have you been thinking about getting an iris tattoo, but want to know more about what it symbolises? Or perhaps you’re just an admirer of the flower and looking for some great design inspiration?

The iris tattoo is full of positive meanings. In fact, it’s one of the only floral tattoos that doesn’t hold any negative representations. The iris has planted several historical roots, linking different meanings to different cultures and countries. In the modern-day, the selection of symbolism has remained in abundance. 

In this article, we will go into more detail about what the iris tattoo means, some popular designs, and a brief history of the flower. 


What is the History of Iris Tattoos?

The iris can be traced back to ancient times in Greek mythology. A Greek Goddess named Iris was known as the link between heaven and earth. Whenever the gods wanted to communicate with mortals they would send her down as a messenger. She was the personification of the rainbow, and in the Greek language the word ‘iris’ actually means ‘rainbow’. 

As legend has it, whenever she laid foot on the earth, colourful flowers would spring from where she stepped. Because of this, whenever a woman died the Greeks would place purple irises on her grave to summon Goddess Iris and help her along to heaven. 

But Greece wasn’t the only country where the iris bore significance. In Egypt, the importance and planting of the iris date back as far as 1469 B.C. The ruler at the time, King Thutmose III, was an avid gardener, (as many at the time were for gold), but when Egypt conquered Syria, the king found irises growing in abundance and added them to his garden. 

Soon, the iris grew in popularity and became a symbol of the essence and renewal of life. The three petals of the flower each had meanings also, one to stand for faith, one for valour, and one for wisdom. The flower’s incense was used in religious ceremonies, whereas the rhizomes were used for the manufacturing of perfume. For medical purposes, its rhizomes were known to treat cold-like symptoms such as coughs by clearing the bile ducts from catarrhal obstructions. 


What Do Iris Tattoos Symbolise?

Iris tattoos have many different symbolizations, and because of this, they are a fairly popular floral choice. 

Firstly, the iris is the official February birth flower, so it’s a common choice amongst people born in February. However, the iris tattoo is not limited to February birthdays as it has several other meanings.

The iris tattoo is a symbol of innocence, determination, wisdom, passion, hope, greatness, royalty, cleanliness, and faith

Following on from the association with wisdom, the iris tattoo also represents the desire to gain more knowledge by constantly learning new things. As such, it symbolises the pursuit of wisdom and truth. 

The meanings ‘determination’ and ‘greatness’ go hand in hand, and more or less describe themselves. Nonetheless, this symbolism goes slightly further, showing you have the strength to move forward and pursue your goals at all costs, even when life is trying to hold you back. 

‘Hope’ and ‘faith’ are another pair that fall into the same category. The iris tattoo can symbolise that you rely on your beliefs for guidance and support throughout your life. Whatever this belief may be, the iris is not limited to one particular faith. 

‘Passion’ can represent a person’s strength to display affection or care towards another. It also suggests that someone has the power to use their emotions to their advantage. 

Lastly, ‘royalty’ is not simply for those who are legitimately royal. It encompasses other traits such as grandeur, magnificence, and courage. It’s also perfect for anyone who feels they are fit to be a king or queen, but often gets overlooked. 


What Do Iris Tattoos Mean?

Blue Iris Tattoo – Truth, honesty, wisdom

Purple Iris Tattoo – Royalty, courage, prestige, nobility

Yellow Iris Tattoo – Hope, optimism, luck, positivity

White Iris Tattoo – Faith, innocence, dedication

Orange Iris Tattoo – Determination, success, strength


Where Do Iris Tattoos Usually Go?

The most common places to tattoo an iris include; the arm, outer thigh, shoulder, upper spine, or ankle. However, since there are multiple ways in which you can style the iris tattoo, there isn’t really any unsuitable body part. For example, the snake and iris contrast can be inked as a full stomach or back tattoo. 


Characteristics and Styles of Iris Tattoos

Van Gogh Style – A Van Gogh style iris tattoo consists of a blue petaled iris sitting in a brown clay vase with a semi-circle handle on either side. Sat in between the blossoms are long, green iris leaves. On the right-hand side, some blossoms are weeping, deflating down the side of the vase. 

This tattoo represents greatness, strong-mindedness, and fierceness. 

Snake Style – Typically the snake iris tattoo is colourless, simply using black ink. The snake is entangled around the stem and blossom of the iris, meandering from tip to toe. Some versions have the snake head at the bottom, and others have the head above the blossom.

This tattoo represents the contract of innocence and sin, right and wrong, heaven and hell, or the battle of former or latter.

Hummingbird Style – The most common hummingbird and iris tattoo is of a purple blossom, however, not restricted to. The hummingbird typically hovers above the iris appearing as though it is about to suck the nectar. 

This tattoo represents overcoming obstacles, success, determination, and pursuing desires. 



The iris tattoo is rich with meanings. Due to this, it’s suitable for almost everyone. But as well as the regular meanings, irises could have personal meanings to different people. Irises make for beautiful


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