Lotus Flower Tattoo Meaning

Lotus flowers are an incredibly popular subject for tattoos, and with good reason. They are one of the most beautiful flowers in nature, and are heavily symbolic for many cultures. The lotus is an especially important symbol in several religions, including Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and Hinduism. It’s often said that the lotus is to the East what the rose is to the West.

Open watercolor lotus tattoo

Open Lotus Tattoo by @skylerespinoza

Lotuses are a delicate flower, usually blooming with eight petals. A number of factors can determine the significance of lotus symbolism: whether the blossom is opened or closed; the color; any religion affiliation; etc. They also tend to be a strong allegory for self-improvement and enlightenment: the lotus starts at the bottom of a muddy pond, pushes its way up through the murky waters, and emerges on the other side as a beautiful, pure blossom. Many feel that this strongly reflects the human struggle to better ourselves, especially when we get lost in difficult times.

So with that in mind, what does a lotus flower mean in a tattoo? Here’s a few variations on lotus tattoo meanings to consider when planning your next piece.

Japanese Lotus Flower Tattoo Meaning

The Japanese lotus- known as the Sacred Lotus in China, Bali, and other Asian countries- is generally the same species that you would see depicted as the seat of Hindu deities or of Buddha.

Pink Japanese Lotus Flower

Japanese Lotus Flower

Egyptian Lotus Flower Tattoo Meaning

The Egyptian Lotus is also known as the Blue Lotus, because of its light blue or purple petals (you may have heard it referred to as a water lily… they are the same thing). The Egyptian Lotus was associated with the ritual for the passage into the afterlife, and so it makes a good choice for a memorial tattoo. Egyptian Lotus tattoo meanings can also include the notion of creation, as the ancient Egyptians believed it was the first flower to emerge on Earth.

Egyptian Lotus Flower or water lily

Egyptian lotus flower

Koi Fish and Lotus Flower Tattoo Meaning

A koi and a lotus depicted together can have several different meanings. Both are taken to symbolize rebirth or transformation, as well as inner strength. A koi fish and lotus flower tattoo represents finding the perseverance to push through incredible struggles to emerge stronger on the other side.

Buddha Lotus Flower Tattoo Meaning

Buddhist philosophy is tied very closely with the image of the lotus flower. In Buddhism, the lotus is a metaphor for the Eightfold Path, and it represents purity of mind, body, and spirit. Generally, a Buddhist Lotus Flower tattoo would use the Japanese Lotus in particular for the design.

Lotus and Buddha combo tattoo on arm

Lotus and Buddha tattoo by @dramatattooartist

Female Lotus Flower Tattoo Meanings

It’s no real surprise that lotus tattoos tend to be more popular with women than with men, but the trend isn’t just because the lotus is a pretty flower. In Hinduism, the lotus is associated with feminine beauty, purity, fertility, and divinity. The lotus was also a common metaphor for female sexuality in the Han and Ming dynasties of China. As such, the lotus is a great tattoo to represent female empowerment and feminist ideals.

Geometric Purple Lotus tattoo on forearm

Purple Lotus Tattoo by @karlmarks1

Lotus Flower Tattoo Color Meanings

Colors carry powerful significance, and the same lotus flower tattoo design but in a different color on a different person can mean something totally different. 

Blue Lotus Tattoo Meaning

Blue lotuses are generally associated with knowledge and wisdom. For some, they can represent a mind-over-matter philosophy and the ability to exercise self-control. Oftentimes a blue lotus is drawn as partially open; this becomes a metaphor for the never-ending growth of mind and spirit over body.

Blue lotus tattoo on forearm

Blue lotus tattoo by @davis_inks

White Lotus Tattoo Meaning

A white lotus symbolizes enlightenment, especially in the Buddhist religion. The color white also imparts the meaning of peace and purity. More so than other colors of the flower, a white lotus represents the ability to work through dark or difficult times with calmness and grace.

blackwork white lotus tattoo

White lotus tattoo by @lucasmilk

Red Lotus Tattoo Meaning

The red lotus is called the Heart Lotus, usually related to the heart chakra. The red lotus flower represents the strongest emotions of the heart: love, passion, compassion, etc. A fully-bloomed red lotus can be indicative of an open, welcoming heart.

Red lotus tattoo on wrist

Red Lotus Tattooo by @thankokeshi

Black Lotus Tattoo Meaning

Black lotus tattoos are extremely popular; they are often worked into designs that incorporate mandalas or other complicated linework, and can be popular as tribal style tattoos as well. While lotuses are often associated with the concept of creation, the color black is generally tied with death; because of this, a black lotus tattoo can symbolize the relationship between life and death.

Black lotus tattoo on upper back

Black Lotus Tattoo by @serenatattoos

Pink Lotus Tattoo Meaning

The pink lotus is actually the color that most directly symbolizes Buddha himself. In a less religious sense, the color pink can also be connected to femininity. This strengthens the meaning of the lotus in Hindu culture, where the flower is seen as the chief symbol for female beauty.

Pink watercolor lotus tattoo

Pink lotus tattoo by @filippo_scalia_tattoo

Purple Lotus Tattoo Meaning

The purple lotus invokes a certain sense of mysticism. Of all the lotus colors, the purple lotus is the most heavily spiritual.

Purple lotus progression tattoo

Purple Lotus Tattoo by @robinelizabethart

Orange Lotus Tattoo Meaning

While there aren’t many references to orange lotuses in religion or mythology, generally orange flowers are believed to represent warmth (like the sun). An orange lotus can also symbolize friendship and community.

Lotus flowers are gorgeous wonders of nature, and their natural symmetry and elegance lends them to be used in endless types of tattoo designs and styles. If you’re considering a lotus as the subject of your next tattoo, here’s a quick list of the meanings of lotus flowers to help you make your decision:

- Enlightenment (especially the white lotus)

- Purity (white lotus)

- The Eightfold Path

- Buddha/ Buddhism (especially the pink lotus)

- Femininity/ female empowerment

- Eternity

- Divinity

- Knowledge and wisdom (blue lotus)

- Spirituality (purple lotus)

- Friendship (orange lotus)

- Love, passion (red lotus)

- Balance between life and death (black lotus)

- Creation (blue lotus)

- Rebirth/ transformation


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