Iris Tattoo Meaning – What Do Iris Tattoos Symbolize?
The iris (Latin: Iris germanica) is the February birth flower and a unique floral tattoo design linked to hope, wisdom, communication, and faith.
Being a beautiful flower of many colors, the individual Iris hues are also linked to different deeply symbolic meanings, which include heroism, royalty, passion, and purity.
Iris tattoo meaning can be complex and symbolically layered, or purely aesthetic designs linked to the flower’s natural bloom.
The following article will explore the Iris tattoo symbolism along with different body art styles and technical applications used to build your central iris flower meaning.
1. Common Iris Flower Tattoo Meaning
The iris tattoo is the February birth flower used to symbolize hope, wisdom, communication, and faith. It’s a flower tattoo design that offers simple themes but as a point of difference to more mainstream flower choices such as a rose tattoo, cherry blossom, or lotus flower design.
Being a beautiful flower of many colors, the individual iris hues are also linked to different tattoo ideas, which include heroism, royalty, passion, and purity.
2. Color in Iris Flower Tattoo Designs
Popular colors in bearded iris, Dutch iris, and fleur-de-lis flower tattoo ideas create fantastic meanings that include:
- Purple iris – Nobility, wisdom
- White iris – Purity, innocence, protection
- Blue iris – Hope, faith
- Yellow iris – Passion
- Any color – Friendship, promise, positivity
While often an aesthetic choice (as the wearer’s favorite color or hue means to support existing tattoo art), picking a specific type or color of iris tattoo design can add extra tattoo meaning.
3. Iris, Ancient Greek Goddess of the Rainbow
The iris originates from the Ancient Greek word for rainbow, linking the flower’s wide array of vibrant colors with the flower tattoo’s relationship to Iris, the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow in ancient times.
In Ancient legend, Iris traveled rainbow paths between earth and the heavens to deliver messages from the Gods, and also accompanied the deceased to the afterlife. Ancient Greeks often planted the multi-colored blooms at the gravesites of lost loved ones.
The Greek poet Hesiod wrote that Iris had “the additional duty of carrying water from the River Styx in a ewer whenever the gods had to take a solemn oath. The water would render unconscious for one year any god or goddess who lied.”
Hesiod’s writings and other mythology create another layer of symbolism a tattoo collector can imbue around Iris tattoo ideas of loyalty, honor, wisdom, and communication.
4. Fantastic Meanings in Other Mythology
In Japanese culture, iris flower tattoo meaning is primarily tied to purifying evil energies and protecting those who wear it, an important consideration for the Yakuza gangsters that popularized colorfully intense body art.
The distinctive iris flower is a rich symbol throughout Japanese culture as a link to purity, found in everything from Ikebana flower arranging to Japanese theater and poetry to woodblock art and textiles.
In Ancient Egypt, the iris flower was associated with the powerful God Horus and Goddess Hathor, as a link to light, rebirth, regeneration, and nobility, while the bloom is also linked to the Virgin Mary in Christianity as another link to purity and innocence.
5. Realistic Iris Tattoos
One of the most dramatic contemporary styles showcasing an artist’s skill and dedication are floral tattoos employing a photorealistic approach.
The wearer who goes for this approach is less likely to establish deeper symbolic meaning – it’s all about the real flower and its physical characteristics being displayed on the skin.
A tattoo artist can now specialize in realistic tattoo design – and can command top dollar to apply stunning realism to iris tattoos that look like they can be found in a nursery or botanical garden.
Whether in full color or black and gray, placed on the shoulder of a woman or stretched across a man’s entire chest, a realistic iris motif is one of the most arresting, unique designs you will come across.
6. Black and Gray Iris Tattoo Design
While it is commonly associated with photo-realistic designs and complex shading, black and gray or black ink is perfectly suited to a variety of flower tattoo styles and approaches for bringing your iris to life.
Black ink and negative space are also a useful design choice for collectors on a strict budget, or those looking for stark, highly emotive linework or silhouette pieces.
Whether it is a complex single needle piece, an elaborate geometric tattoo of contrasting lines and shapes, or a realistic floral tattoo, black and gray is a great choice for iris tattoo design ideas.
7. Small Iris Flower Tattoo Art
Not everyone wants big, bold designs that take up large swaths of skin. In fact, many people prefer their tattoos to be subtle accessories, not their entire look.
Small floral tattoo ideas are a great choice for anyone who wants to add a bit of ink in just the right place, without dedicating an entire limb to permanent body art.
With so many more artists specializing in the method of delivery, everything from a classically etched Iris with stem and blooms to more stylized linework pieces can be used in small flower ink that can be placed anywhere.
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