Orchids symbolize femininity, sexuality and fertility. They are very feminine flowers that have their roots in ancient Greece but have cultural meanings all throughout the world.
There are so many different flowers to choose from once you have decided that you want a floral tattoo, so where do you begin? Do you start with a color that you like, your favorite flower, or do you look for a deeper meaning? Well, although many people are familiar with the orchid a lot of people do not know the deeper meanings that it holds.
Here we will cover the history of the orchid, its symbolism and its cultural significance to help you decide if this is the right floral tattoo for you!
What is the History of Orchid Tattoos?
The history of the flower is clearly reflected in its name as the word “orchid” is derived from the Greek “orkhis”, and was named as such by the Greek botanist Theophrastos who saw a resemblance between the under part of the flower and the male anatomy.
Today there are over 20,000 different species of orchid in the flower. However, the flower’s popularity in cultivation and botany is unfortunately not reflected in the world of tattooing and the flower is still very much pales in comparison to its other floral counterparts such as the daisy and the rose.
Even today the orchid tattoo is still not very common, meaning that if you are looking for a floral tattoo that is a bit more unique then this is the perfect option for you, assuming, of course, that its meanings and symbolism suit the message that you are going for.
Due to its symbolism, this type of floral tattoo is particularly popular with women due to its connection to the female body and sensuality. It is used as a sign of female strength, despite its dainty appearance.
What Do Orchid Symbolize?
As you may have been able to guess by the origin of its name, the orchid flower is connected with sexuality, sensuality and fertility. This flirty and fun flower symbolizes the vibrancy of life.
However, in specific cultures it also takes on slightly more specific meanings. For example, in Greek mythology there is the goddess of love Aphrodite and one of the genus of orchids is named in reference to her, Paphiopedilum, which comes from Paphos which is the temple where she was worshipped. This again strengthens the connection of this flower to love.
Additionally, in Ancient Greece people believed that they were capable of choosing the gender of their unborn child by eating the tubers of the plant. If the dad ate thicker ones then the child would turn out to be a boy and if he ate thinner ones then the child would be a girl.
For Aztecs this flower also symbolizes power and strength as they believed that when mixed with vanilla it created a special type of elixir.
For the Victorians, however, because this plant was considered exotic and rare it quickly became a sign of wealth and abundance. When given as a gift the more rare your orchid was the more revered you considered your recipient to be.
In China, however, the orchid has a slightly more muted, and less sexual, symbolism, and means friendship and integrity.
What Do Orchid Tattoos Mean?
Orchid tattoos can mean a variety of different things depending on their coloring, in addition to any associations with cultural meanings such as those listed above.
For example, the white orchid, possibly the most familiar of all of the colors, holds the meaning dear to most other white flowers of purity, innocence and fragility. This makes it a great gift for people who are getting married, have just had a baby or are christening their child.
The blue flower, on the other hand, is a much rarer color and is both a sign of spirituality and uniqueness. It can be given as a gift to someone to tell them that you hold them dear in your heart.
The fiery red version of this flower symbolizes courage, strength and power. It also represents passion, like most red flowers and is commonly associated with the red rose.
Pink orchids are another very common coloring for this flower and one that you will often see sold in shops and florists. This color represents friendship, playfulness, fertility and femininity. This is a great present for a new mother or a mom to be!
Purple orchids tie in the Victorian association of wealth as the purple color also represents royalty and elegance.
If you are looking for something a bit more joyous then look no further than the yellow version of this flower which symbolizes friendship, joy and new beginnings.
Where Do Orchid Tattoos Usually Go?
The fantastic thing about orchid tattoos is that you can choose as many flowers as you like to adapt the shape of the tattoo to your chosen area of placement. For example, if you want the tattoo to suit your forearm then you will want to ideally opt for a longer, thinner tattoo so include part of the stalk and perhaps a few flowers.
If you want to place the tattoo on a more rounded area of your body such as your shoulder or chest then maybe opt for just a single flower to give the tattoo a rounded shape.
Characteristics and Styles of Orchid Tattoos
Orchids are very dainty flowers, despite their somewhat sexual connotations. For this reason they suit more delicate styles such as fine line work and light brushes of color.
Watercolor tattoos are perfect for this flower as they give your tattoo added meaning through the color but do not overpower the entire image. This will also help the flower to stand out from the stem.
If you are looking for something a little bit more ambiguous in meaning then a perfectly shaded black and white image that is photorealistic will add the perfect amount of depth to your orchid tattoo and make it truly a masterpiece on your body.