Lilies comprise a genus of about 110 separate species, many of them looking very dissimilar, all of them beautiful. Likewise, different species of lilies have different meanings in art and literature. In early Christian art, Mary and Jesus are often pictured with white lilies, a symbol of spiritual purity that comes from the pure, pristine look of the flower. They symbolized chastity in this context as well, a byproduct of Mary’s virginity. In depictions of the Biblical scene of Gabriel telling Mary she would give birth to Jesus, he is often pictured holding a white lily.
In Egypt and Greece, however, the focus was placed elsewhere – they symbolized fertility and sexuality. One ancient Greek superstition suggested that if you presented a pregnant woman with a lily and a rose, her choice would reveal the baby’s gender (lily for a boy). Stargazer lilies mean different things depending on the color as well. White Stargazers denote peace and purity, similar to the Christian tradition, but Pink Stargazers represent wealth and prosperity.
While white lilies are common in most artistic mediums, pink and purple are the most common lily colors found in tattoo art. This is simply an issue of aesthetic; white ink on pale skin doesn’t stand out in the same way that brighter, more vivid colors do.
Lilies work well as standalone images as well as in a bunch, either all of the same color or with varying colors (and even various species of flowers). A lily tattoo design works well on any part of the body and in any size, as is the case for flowers in general.
As is the case with other flowers as well, many beautiful lily designs run along the entire side of the torso, incorporating long stems and vines for a graceful, flowing appearance that accentuates the natural curve of the body.
Similar designs use a chain of lilies strung upon vines or stems, but use black, stylized lines vaguely resembling tribal tattoo designs as the stems. This less traditional approach is playful and stylish.
The top of the foot or ankle is another particularly popular place to get a lily tattoo. Since real lilies are not bigger than the small space these tattoos occupy, they don’t suffer as a result of the small space. Often, like in the pictures below, the lilies will also be tattooed with other designs such as cherry blossom tattoo designs or lettering tattoo designs.
Lilies are a versatile choice for those interested in flower tattoo designs, since they naturally come in many colors and shapes. (Of course, the artist is never limited to using only colors that occur in nature.) Lilies offer you the ability to invoke an aspect of their many-layered meanings while still having plenty of options to fit your own preferences for color, placement, and general shape.