Flower tattoos are often highly valued among women looking for their first piece of body art. It’s form and shape reminds us of the gentle platitudes of the female form and for the most part flower tattoos are of a feminine nature. But, the symbolism of the flower tattoo design depends entirely on the color and the genus of flowers indicated. Each indigenous flower has it’s own unique symbolic characteristics. Next to the ubiquitous rose, the iris is the most highly symbolized flower. With Christianity, the triple petals of the Iris came to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The colors of the Iris -blue and white- became associated with the Virgin Mary. The Archangel Gabriel is depicted holding the flower in his hand when he appeared to her, establishing it as a symbol of purity. In Medieval England, noblewomen often took the Iris as a symbol of virtue and had its image incorporated into their personal seal. The Violet, Hyacinth, and Narcissus are all flowers with names derived from Greek mythology. The Violet, for instance, took its name from the little nymph Io, much loved by Zeus. To avoid his wife’s jealousy, Zeus changed Io into a heifer and put her in a field of sweet purple violets!
This is a perfect example of a flower tattoo that is rich in symbolism. Depicted in the photo is a cherry blossom being suckled by a butterfly. Both the flower and the butterfly are quite symbolic on their own merit but when combined a whole new dimension is added. The cherry blossom is a symbol of female beauty and sexuality. It’s also a symbol of the fragility of life. Everything that was ever born will die and that is reflected in the frail, but beautiful pale petals of the cherry blossom. It was a symbol that is favored among the Samurai nobles of ancient japan. It reminded them that everyday death is beckoning to them and that one day they will have to face their mortality. The butterfly is also a symbol of the feminine gender but it’s also a symbol of the impermanent and fleeting. When combined the two symbols in one flower tattoo represent the fleeting nature of physical beauty and sexuality. This flower tattoo expresses the divine beauty of youth which will eventually come to an end. It is reminiscent of the spring which burst forth ripe with color and then slowly fades as the seasons transition to summer, then fall and eventually winter.
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