Water Lily Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Water Lily Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Floral tattoos have been a mainstay among tattoo artists and make a classic choice for a tattoo client.

Determining the right flower for tattoo inspiration can be challenging. The Water Lily is a beautiful plant with deep symbolism and cultural significance. The Water Lily can vary in appearance and color. The Lotus, a variety of the Water Lily species, is a popular motif for tattoos and is sometimes prominent in Asian-inspired tattoos.

Considering a Water Lily as inspiration for your next tattoo? Read on to learn more about the Water Lily’s history and symbolism, and how these can be used to create a beautiful tattoo.

What do Water Lily flowers symbolize?

The Water Lily has been cultivated for centuries and has symbolic significance in many ancient civilizations and religions.

Often revered, the Water Lily is associated with purity, innocence, and fertility. The Water Lily also symbolizes rebirth, renewal, enlightenment, and unity.

The Water Lily is the birth flower for the month of July an is also the national flower of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Water Lilies in Religion

The Water Lily is highly significant in Buddhist and Hindu traditions. In both religions, the Water Lily (sometimes referred to as a Lotus) symbolizes resurrection, as the flowers are well known for closing their petals at night and reopening the petals with the dawn of morning.

Buddhists revere the water lily as a symbol of enlightenment; the roots of water lilies emerge from mud and murky water to bloom beautifully.

In Hinduism, the water lily is associated with creation and certain deities. The Water Lily is also mentioned throughout the Christian Bible as a symbol of purity and devotion.

Water Lilies in Myth

The Water Lily is closely associated with Greek mythology. The genus name of the Water Lily, Nymphea, translates to nymph from Ancient Greek.

Nymphs are minor deities, represented as young women, and are strongly associated with nature. In many creation myths, a Water Lily Lotus is the birthplace of gods. Some legends suggest that the universe itself emerged from a Water Lily.

Water Lilies in Art

Claude Monet, a famous French Impressionist painter, has entire series of 250 paintings dedicated to the Water Lily. These are some of the most well-known works of Impressionist art.

Water Lilies in History

The Water Lily is one of the oldest plants, with fossils appearing in the record over 60 million years ago. They have been found depicted in tombs of Egyption pharaohs, adorning temple pillars, art, and pottery. Blue water lilies are frequently depicted in the hands of nude women as a symbol of fertility in Egyptian artifacts.

What can a Water Lily Tattoo Mean?

Like many tattoos, meaning and significance are subjective and can be impacted by personal sentiment that do not necessarily equate traditional meanings of the Water Lily.

However, the Water Lily is associated with many positive attributes, such as love, rebirth/resurrection,divinity, purity, and wisdom. 

The rich legacy of the Water Lily is recognized across history and cultures. Water Lilies can also be used to symbolize a July birthdate or allude to nationality of Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.

Where is the best placement for a Water Lily tattoo?

The Water Lily is traditionally quite a large flower, and therefore would ideally be placed in an area of the body that allows for large tattoos, such as the back and upper thigh.

What color are Water Lily Tattoos?

Like any flower, the color of the Water Lily can change the meaning represented or intended. With a Water Lily tattoo, the artist and client are not limited to only colors found in nature, however Water Lily naturally comes in many colors. Perhaps the most well-known colors are white, pink, red, yellow, blue, and purple. 

White Water Lily

A white water lily is said to symbolizes purity of mind and chasity. Many early civilizations associated white water lilies with the divine and spiritual realm. The white water lily’s meaning of purity makes it a frequent addition to bridal bouquets.

Pink Water Lily

Pink water lilies represent wisdom, and are revered as a symbol for spiritual enlightment. The pink Water Lily and Lotus are used as an allegory for Siddhartha, the historical Buddha.

Red Water Lily

The red water lily is a symbol of romantic love. In the Buddhist tradition, red water lilies are associated with “heart wisdom” and passion.

Yellow Water Lily

The yellow water lily is meant to symbolize new beginnings and positivity. 

Blue Water Lily

Native to Africa, the blue waterlily is called the lily of the Nile. In Egypt, the blue water lily is sacred, and was worshipped as a symbol of the Sun and creation. Blue Water Lilies also symbolizes sexuality, fertility, and knowledge. 

Purple Water Lily

Purple water lilies symbolize mystic power and spiritual rebirth. Other meanings for a purple water lily includes peace, harmony, and royalty.

What are the different characteristics of Water Lily Tattoos?

Like most tattoos, design and placement will impact the characteristics of a Water Lily tattoo. However, if botanical accuracy is an important detail to the tattoo design, the Water Lily has these defining traits:

  • Large, knotched green leaves (the characteristic “lily pad”)
  • Cup-like or star-shaped flower with petals that come to a point 
  • Visible stamens at center
  • A stalk that holds the Water Lily bloom aloft

What are the different styles of Water Lily Tattoos?

Water Lilies are a popular motif for tattoos and are likely well-suited to a variety of tattoo styles.

Because of the Water Lily’s revered status in Buddhism and Hinduism, a Water Lily tattoo makes a great addition to a Japanese style tattoo motif.

Some other recommended styles for Water Liliy/Lotus tattoos:

  • Realism
  • Black and Gray
  • Linework
  • Geometric


The Water Lily is a gorgeous flower with deep cultural and religious signifcance around the world.

 Water Lilies come in a variety of colors, all with different meanings, making it an excellent choice for a variety of tattoo projects. DIscussing all options and ideas with a professional, reputable tattoo artist is highly recommended. 


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