Can it be any wonder that the rose tattoo has become such a widely requested tattoo design for both men and women? Not only does the rose have a deep symbolism, it has an amazing width of representations from a single bud to a bouquet of blossoms, from an open bloom to a garland, with or without thorns. It can include billowing ribbons written with the names of those remembered or devoted.
Roses have always been associated with a heady mixture of love and death. The ancient Greeks told stories about the first rose being created when Chloris, the goddess of flowers, came upon a dying wood nymph and transformed her into a rose. Aphrodite gave the flower beauty and Dionysus contributed an intoxicating fragrance. Beauty, love, intoxication, and death combined in one package; add thorns for a hint of sorrow and danger, and you have the perfect symbol of the human condition.
In a Roman myth, Harpocrates, the god of silence, happened upon Venus in flagrante delicto. Cupid, the god of love and son of Venus, used a rose to bribe Harpocrates and thus ensure his silence. The myth influenced the art of Rome; the ceilings of Roman banquet rooms were often decorated with roses to be seen by those reclining at the tables after a feast. Any secrets let loose by wine was considered “sub rosa”, and remained confidential.
In honor of the tradition of secrecy, a rose tattoo is well placed in a private place known only to a lover. But roses don’t have to be a secret. Many men wear them proudly and openly on the arm.
Different colors of roses have different meanings; the coding was at a zenith during the Victorian era, which had an actual “language” of flowers. By sending carefully arranged bouquets of flowers, they could communicate feelings of romantic or cordial nature, that couldn’t be freely expressed in person. Rose tattoos, whether depicted as a single blossom or in a bouquet, communicate a dual message of public and private.
Although red, which signifies love, romance, and beauty, is the most requested color, blue has made recent gains in popularity. Although there are no blue roses in real life, botanical research is attempting to create one. The blue rose is a symbol mystery and the never ending quest to reach out for impossible. According to legend, the blue rose grants wishes such as eternal youth.
Like the flowers on which they are based, roses entice with their beauty and scent, but beware the hint of danger from the thorns. Rose tattoos range from innocent purity to unbridled passion. Rose tattoos can serve as a memorial of loved ones lost or as a pledge of eternal love.
A rose tattoo can say a lot about you, but you better tell the tattoo artist what you want it to say!