Lilies are a flower that symbolize motherhood, rebirth, love and good luck. As a tattoo they are often used as a sign of femininity or as a reference to a loved one with the same name.
Flower tattoos are known to mean many different things, as well as being a great way to add a touch of elegance and nature into your own personal artwork collection. Many people often only think of a rose when they think of floral tattoos but lilies are also a very popular choice and could even be considered to be a close second.
Here we will cover the lily flower to teach you a little bit more about the history of the flower, its meanings and to help you decide if it is the right floral tattoo for you.
What is the History of Lily Tattoos?
There are actually many different flowers that contain the word “lily” that do not actually form the “true lily” family. Examples of these include the water lily and the lily of the valley.
Today you can find true lilies from all over the world, but originally they come from the colder climates in the northern hemisphere.
Lilies have been very popular throughout history and have strong cultural and mythological connections. For example, the Romans used to fill their pillows with lilies, leading the ancient Egyptians to believe that the flower was sacred.
Perhaps the most well-known connection is the Greek mythological story of Hera. The story goes that Zeus wanted Hera to feed baby Hercules her milk but because she did not give birth of Hercules she refused.
Zeus, being crafty, fed Hercules from Hera while she slept. However, when she woke up and realized what had happened she pushed them away and the few drops of milk that fell to the floor turned into lilies.
The cultural significance of the lily has translated well into the world of tattooing as the flower is easily recognizable and its coloring is not overbearing.
Although the rose has held the number one spot in floral tattoos since the beginning the lily has trailed not far behind as it too is a sign of femininity and love and is also a female name. As roses become more and more commonplace people are looking for alternatives, meaning that the lily could become just as popular.
What Do Lily Symbolize?
Lilies symbolize femininity, rebirth and new beginnings. However, although these are the more general meanings of the flower there are other more specific symbolic meanings that are specific to certain cultures.
For example, in Greece, due to the connection with the Hera myth, the flower symbolizes motherhood and birth.
It is very common for people to have this flower at weddings in China because they are connected to the idea of 100 years of love as well as good luck.
In the Middle East the lily symbolizes fertility and femininity and is connected to the figure of Ishtar (the goddess of fertility).
In Christianity, the lily (and in particular the Madonna lily) is connected with the Virgin Mary.
So, although each culture has its own take on the symbolism behind the lily the overall tone is that the flower is one that represents femininity, birth and purity.
What Do Lily Tattoos Mean?
Although the lily has its more general meanings, just like all flowers there are more specific meanings when you look at the individual colors of the flowers. This particular flower comes in a variety of colors, each of which adds its own unique symbolism.
Perhaps the color of lily that you are most familiar with is the white lily which symbolizes purity and rebirth. They are often chosen as sympathy flowers and are common at funerals and weddings as they symbolize a revitalization of the soul. You may also sometimes find white flowers with a pop of pink.
The pink version of this flower represents femininity and admiration as well as love. This flower symbolizes a more platonic and friendly type of love and is the perfect give to family members or friends as a way to show them that you appreciate them.
As is normal for red flower, red lilies represent romantic passion and passionate love. They make a fantastic option in addition to or instead of red roses for valentine’s day.
As you may be able to tell by their vibrant coloring, orange lilies represent joy, energy and confidence. They are a great bouquet to give someone who has just reached a new milestone in their life and to show them that you want to celebrate with them.
Yellow versions of this flower are also another great way to show your friends that you appreciate them as they symbolize being thankful and joyous.
Where Do Lily Tattoos Usually Go?
Due to their rounded shape, lily tattoos require a decent amount of space no matter how big or small you want them to be and are more suited to open spaces. For this reason areas such as the shoulder, upper arm, thigh, rib cage or back are good options as they allow your artist enough room to work with.
You can also include a stem and leaves if you want to opt for a more narrow placement such as the wrist or ankle, or even the forearm, as this will elongate the design.
Characteristics and Styles of Lily Tattoos
Lilies are very complex flowers and a lot of shading will make them one of the most beautiful tattoos out there. However, if you want to convey your chosen meaning to everyone then opt for a delicate colored tattoo using fine line shading. This won’t overcomplicate the tattoo and will leave it looking clean.
Watercolor is another great option for lily tattoos as it highlights the femininity behind them and will not overpower the beauty of their shape. You can include washes of green for the stem and leaves as a nice contrast to your chosen color for the petals.