The Best Rose Tattoo Guide By Tattoo Designers

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Rose tattoos have been a long staple in the tattoo community, and an even longer flower symbol in the arts and literature.

So, when Sailor Jerry tattoos first started, rose tattoo designs were used to showcase the devotion a sailor had to their girlfriend, wife, or mother.

The feminine symbolism of the rose began to expand to love, femininity, slowly ingraining itself as tattoo staple symbol.

However, the history of rose, its symbolism, and different color variations are far more complex.

Roses embody beauty and delicacy, as well as aggressiveness due to their sharp thorns.

Rose tattoo drawings combine sweetness with character in a beautiful design.

Tattoo rose has since grown in the range of tattoo styles, shape, complexity, and thus secured its forever placement in the hall of tattoo fame.

Let’s dive deep to learn more!
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Every Tattoo Has A Story – Rose Tattoo Meaning

Rose meanings have fascinated so many culture for centuries. That said, there is no one meaning we can fixate on.

Although red roses are commonly known to symbolize love and romance, there’s much more to roses than meets the eye.

Roses have been sought after for millennia and have a rich cultural history.

Their cultivation most likely began in Asia about 5,000 years ago – Confucius wrote of growing roses in the Imperial Gardens about 500 B.C. and mentioned that the emperor’s library contained hundreds of books on the topic.

Botanically speaking, roses are a prickly bush or shrub that usually bears red, pink, yellow, or white flowers with a distinct fragrancy.

Since ancient times rose flowers have been grown for their:

  • fragrance,
  • beauty,
  • and healing properties.

Roses are native to north mild regions and are globally grown as an ornamental flower.

Their widespread has even earned them the title of queen of flowers, and they are very rich in symbolism, as explored below – in Christianity, classical myth, or modern (especially romantic) literature.

Roses have a very unique symbolical combination – the stem is full of pointy thorns, which leads up to a delicate and beautiful fragrant blossom.

In some interpretations this leads to seeing rose as a metaphor of life:

After overcoming difficulty, you will find inner harmony, union, and happiness.

Roses are also often used in heraldry, badges, and coats of arms.

They are also a birth flower for the month of June.

But one intriguing meaning is definitely the rose’s usage for silence or secrecry.

It goes back to the ancient Egyptians or Greeks, where initiates into the “mysteries,” or pre-Christian religions, wore roses during ceremonies to indicate that they would keep inviolate any secrets that were passed on to them.

In many countries it was customary to hang a rose over secret meetings or gatherings—hence the term sub-rosa (literally “under the rose”) to mean confidential.

Ancient Rose Symbolism

Roses are heavily present in the ancient mythology, both in Roman and Greek myths.

In the ancient Greek legend, roses were created by Aphrodite, the goddess of love when weeping for dying Adonis, her lover.

One day, Adonis was gored by a wild boar during a hunting trip and died in Aphrodite’s arms.

As she wept the first red roses were said to have sprung up from his blood as it soaked into the earth, staining the nearby white roses a deep crimson.

This helps to explain how red roses came to be inextricably linked to romantic love – the idea is that such love transcends death and lives on beyond the lovers’ own short lives.

Romans also made this flower a symbol of beauty and love, a symbol they still carry to this day.

One more meaning associated to the rose during the Roman Empire was that the emperors used this fragrant flower to shower their guests with tons of rose petals during lavish dinners.

Christian Rose Symbolism

Continuing from the ancient rose meanings, in Christianity the red rose is the symbol of Christ’s blood shed at the crucifixion.

This happens a lot with the pagan natural symbols that were later mirrored in Christian symbols, so here we see Adonis’ blood corresponding the Jesus’ blood.

In both Christian and pagan tradition, then, the rose is closely related to the idea of resurrection and rebirth.

Later, as the Virgin Mary became a more central focus of Christian worship, she became associated with the rose and was often depicted surrounded by them.

Such associations have inspired many poets, especially medieval poets such as Dante Alighieri (where the rose figures frequently as a symbol for Mary) and the two French poets who wrote the medieval allegory the Roman de la Rose (a long poem that Chaucer would later translate into English).

In this poem, the rose garden has particular significance, symbolising both romantic love and Christian perfection.

During many Christian events and festivals around the world where the Virgin Mary is celebrated, it is usually done by bringing roses to her altar.

Literature and Pop Culture Rose Symbolism

All of these prior connotations of the rose flower have been used by poets and novelists over the centuries.

Depicting roses in tattoos has even spilled into pop culture, thus producing “Rose Tattoo” – a song by American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys.

Founder, bassist and singer Ken Casey says that songs aim “to tell you a life story in four minutes.”, and specifically about the single “Rose Tattoo” says that it was inspired by Casey’s own tattoos.

“Throughout life — trials, tribulations, dates, times, places, things that are important to you, family, people who have passed away — tattoos on my body document my life and what I’ve been through, things that have been important to me”

Casey tells NPR’s Audie Cornish.

The rose tattoo itself appears on Casey’s arm and is a memorial to his grandfather, who raised Casey after his father had died.

Rose Color Meanings

The color of a rose is also associated with different symbolic meanings.

Each rose color, and even the rose blossom shape and age (i.e. rose buds as opposed to fully bloomed roses), conveys a different meaning or silent message from the giver to the recipient.

🔴 Red Rose Meaning

As explained above through the ancient and Christian legends, red rose symbolizes romance, true love, beauty, and courage.

In terms of the blossom shape, the red rosebud signifies beauty and purity whereas a thorn-less red rose means love at first sight.

Red roses convey passion and a strong romantic love for another person.

Red rose tattoos have been a common appearance since the Sailor Jerry tattoos in general.

🟡 Yellow Rose Meaning

Yellow roses symbolize friendship and joy, and new beginnings.

It did once symbolized jealousy and greed, but that meaning as since been overshadowed by joy and affection.

Like the warm sunflower, a bright-shining yellow rose conveys warmth and affection and can be a great way to show your delight.

Yellow roses also symbolize remembrance and a warm memory or a token of appreciation to another.

🟠 Peach Rose Meaning

Peach roses are known for showing thanks and expressing gratitude.

They are commonly given to celebrate an arrangement and can be a sign of loyalty.

Peach roses are a lovely surprise due to their warm color and are a great tattoo idea for showing adoration to a female loved one.

🟠 Orange Rose Meaning

Orange roses symbolize fascination, desire, and sensuality.

With their blazing energy, orange roses are the wild child of the rose family.

Whatever feelings you might be bubbling over with (enthusiasm, passion, gratitude) orange roses will get the message across with both excitement and elegance.

pink_circle Pink Rose Meaning

Pink roses indicate appreciation and gratitude, especially dark pink roses.

Light pink roses are usually indicative of admiration and sympathy, such as cherry blossom flowers.

A classic symbol of grace and elegance, the pink rose is often used as a symbol of admiration and appreciation.

They are the gentlest of roses and relay that message through their grace.

⚪ White Rose Meaning

The white rose stands for innocence and purity; also silence, secrecy, and reverence.

White rosebuds are symbolic of girlhood.

White roses are traditionally associated with marriages and new beginnings, but their quiet beauty has also made them a gesture of remembrance.

Suited to reverent occasions, the white rose is a fitting way to honor a friend or loved one in recognition of a new beginning or a farewell.

Their pure color conveys respect, pays homage to new starts, and expresses hope for the future.

🟢 Green Rose Meaning

Green roses represent harmony, opulence and fertility.

Like the lavender rose these colors are seen in spring and can represent rebirth and tranquility.

They symbolize best wishes for a prosperous new life or wishes for the recovery of good health.

🔵 Blue Rose Meaning

Blue roses, like the black rose, represent mystery and illusion from their mesmerizing hue.

In terms of love, blue roses embody ultimate desire and lust.

Used in tattoos they also represent unattainable love but unfathomable favor.

🟣 Lavender Rose Meaning

Lavender roses are often seen in spring and represent love at first sight.

These roses are used to express fascination and adoration.

Their beauty is known to convey enchantment and their meaning can differ by shade.

Darker shades of lavender roses convey a sense of regal, majesty and splendor.

⚫ Black Rose Meaning

Black roses, commonly used during Halloween, represent death and the ending of a feeling, idea, or relationship.

Black roses are not created naturally so they represent mystery and elusiveness.

With a black rose tattoo you are conveying the end of your relations with another or signifying death.

🌈 Multicolored Rose Meaning

Multicolored roses, also known as “rainbow roses,” are unique gifts that represent happiness and joy.

The brightness and range of colors in multicolored roses convey fun and make the great tattoo for birthdays, anniversaries, or a new baby.

Like mixed rose color bouquets, multicolored roses can be a great way to share multiple emotions and messages into one design.

💐 Different Color Rose Bouquet Meaning

This is a personalized way to combine many messages into one rose tattoo design.

Mixing pink and green roses can symbolize gentleness and harmony which would be a great tattoo to show love and affection to a family member or kind friend.

Mixing red and ivory roses could mean your love is intense and tasteful.

Best Rose Tattoo Placements

Rose tattoo placement is one of the most varied ones.

It can go from a rose outline tattoo that can fit on any elongated body part (forearm, thigh, back), to some more rounded placement such as a rose shoulder tattoo.

The rose blossom’s oval shape gives it possibility to be used for both tiny tattoo designs, to complex rose tattoo sleeves.

It’s a versatile tattoo symbol, used for both women’s and men’s tattoo designs.

Rose thigh tattoo usually is a woman’s choice, going from the side body down through the hips towards the knees.

But, if you’re looking for something super delicate and tiny, rose finger tattoo can be your choice or a tiny rose wrist tattoo.

Rose Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best rose tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

Are you looking for a custom rose tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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