Peony tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings, and More

Peony tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings, and More

Traditional floral tattoos are steeped in a long and rich history. Peony tattoos are great examples. This flower has many different meanings, and with its layered, almost geometric pattern of petals makes an excellent choice for a beautiful tattoo.

This article aims to take a closer look at the history of the peony, both as a flower and as a tattoo, its symbolism and meaning, the best place to get a peony tattoo, as well as common characteristics and styles of this popular flower tattoo.

What is the History of Peony Tattoos?

The history of peony tattoos is vibrant. It’s closely woven into the history of the flowers themselves. Therefore, we must take a closer look at the history of the peony flower before we look at how it has been used in tattoo artwork.


The History of the Peony

Peonies have been around for a very long time. These flowers have a vibrant history, especially in China and Japan. Peonies are said to have grown in Chinese gardens as early as 1000 BCE and made their way to Japan by the 8th century.

It was thought that peonies brought good luck and good fortune. Peonies were used for medicinal purposes. The roots as well as the seeds were used to treat things like headaches and breathing issues like asthma. They were also used as pain relief during childbirth.

The first peony brought to Europe in the 1800s was the tree peony. Today, there are about 40 different species of peony, found in North America, Asia, and Europe. Japan is one of the major producers of these magnificent flowers.


The History of Peony Tattoos

Peony tattoos have a vibrant history. These beautiful blooms have made their way into modern Western tattoo designs from traditional East Asian tattoo artistry. Before that, tattoos served another purpose.

Ancient tattoo practices commonly used tattoos as a way of identifying what tribe you belonged to and where that tribe was from. Tattoos would include animals, plants, and flowers that were local to the area in which you lived.

As peonies grew in China and later in Japan, these flowers would turn up in tattoo artwork. Both of these countries can trace tattoo artwork back many centuries. Peonies are often the main component of Asian tattoo styles. Peonies are often referred to as the ‘King of Flowers’ or ‘King Flower’, especially in Japanese culture.

The peony is considered good luck, good fortune, and is by all accounts a regal bloom, thus denoting power. It was and is common for men to tattoo this flower on their bodies, signifying a softer masculine strength, one that was rooted in intellect and prowess, not just brute force.

In Japan, the Yakuza, or Japanese mafia, were known for their intricate and large tattoos, often displaying fierce animals, with the beautiful geometric layers of the peony blossoms.  

Today, peonies are not just tattooed as a part of Asian cultures but internationally all over the world, and adding to the meanings, based on the color of the peony and the bearer of the tattoo themselves.

What Do Peonies Symbolise?

Peonies like most flowers have deep symbolism associated with them. These flowers represent prosperity, love, honor, bashfulness, sorrow, and good luck to name a few of their meanings. Like most flowers, each color has its symbolism associated with it.

Different color meanings of Peonies

Peonies come in a variety of colors and each color means something as well:


  • Light Pink peonies are the most common variety. Their pink color is often associated with romance, luck, and prosperity.
  • The hot pink variety of this flower represents attraction, allure, and deep appreciation and although associated with romance, they can also be linked with happiness, joy, and radiance as well.
  • A red-colored peony symbolizes love, passion, honor, and respect making these a perfect choice for your spouse or partner.
  • Yellow peonies are symbolic of new beginnings and clean slates. They are also perfect for spreading joy and happiness to people in your life.
  • Purple shades of this flower are associated with uniqueness and positive energy

What Do Peony Tattoos Mean?

As previously mentioned, peony tattoos mean several different things, which also include the cultural significance to the wearer of the tattoo and personal reasons for receiving the tattoo itself.

Usually, these floral tattoos represent prosperity, love, luck, and honor. A black and grey peony tattoo can symbolize a happy life or satisfying life or marriage.


Where Do Peony Tattoos Usually Go?

Peony tattoos can be placed wherever you would like them to be placed. One of the advantages of a peony tattoo is that it looks good whether it is large or small, 

Ask your tattoo artist to help you choose the right place for your tattoo as they are an expert and will have a good idea about how it will look where you choose to place it.


Characteristics And Styles of Peony Tattoos

Peony tattoos have a rich cultural history and the tattoo style associated with them are numerous and varied. The shape of the bloom of these flowers lends itself to a variety of different techniques:

  • Black and Grey – create a very soft, delicate look
  • Black-work – the large sections of saturated black ink mixed with the sections of skin breaks gives a great contrast with the peony making for a bold and beautiful effect.
  • Illustrative– these tattoos are 2D and more artistic rather than photorealistic and use color to great effect.
  • Japanese– Done in traditional black and red ink, where black symbolizes enlightenment and red means prosperity and protection from spirits.


Peony Tattoos and their corresponding flowers represent many different meanings among different cultures, from bashfulness to prosperity and happy marriage. The rich history of the peony adds further charm and mystique to a peony tattoo. No matter what style you choose, where you place it, or how big or small your tattoo will be, the peony always looks beautiful. 


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