Lion tattoos symbolize pride, majesty and courage. The lion has been used in art for centuries as a powerful, masculine symbol and as a result, images of lions have found their way into modern tattoo art. The art medium may have changed, but the meaning of lions in art and tattoos has remained the same.
The Meaning of Lion Tattoos
The lion is often referred to as the “king of the beasts” or the “king of the jungle” because it is at the top of the food chain. Lions are territorial and will mark and defend their territory and their pride of lionesses with loud roars and vicious fights; the way that a king defends his country and people. The lion’s mane adds to its royal symbolism, resembling the crowns worn by human kings. A tattoo of a lion is often chosen to represent the majesty of nature or life, or to state a sense of dominion and control over the tattoo owner’s own world.
Being the king of the jungle means that the lion has power over all animals and this power has become a part of the symbolism of lion tattoos. An image of a lion tattooed onto the skin symbolizes the tattoo owner’s personal strength, courage and power. Many lion tattoos are portraits in which the lion stares out confidently at the viewer, unafraid and secure in his own power.
Lion tattoos can also symbolize justice and wisdom. Because the lion is the king, he is attributed with the same qualities that a human king needs in order to rule fairly. A king is required to pass judgement on his people and reward or punish them accordingly, and although lions don’t kill other animals as a form of punishment, simply being the animal who has the power to kill other creatures has earned him the symbolism of being a just and wise judge.
Lionesses are not often chosen for tattoo designs, and are often overlooked in favor of the fierce, confident male lion. Lionesses lack the impressive mane of the lion so they don’t inspire as much fear or respect in humans as male lions do, even though it is the female lions who do all the hunting in the pride. In tattoo art, a design of a male lion symbolizes masculinity and paternal leadership while a tattoo of a lioness represents loyalty and the ferocity of a mother lioness protecting her cubs.
Tattoos of Lions reveal a sense of Pride
Pride is often touted as being a weaker emotion, and people who express pride in themselves are often mistakenly belittled as arrogant or vain. Lions are very proud animals who lounge around beneath thorn trees on the Savanna, surveying their domain with a proud and regal gaze. Like the lion, people who choose a lion tattoo are not ashamed of who they are and express themselves with the same proud and dignified behavior of lions. Because of the lion’s symbolic link with pride, lions are also sometimes associated with contempt and vanity.
The lion has appeared in many family crests as a symbol of pride. In heraldry, the lion represents valor, strength and bravery and is often designed in a number of attitudes (poses) that reveal these attributes. When roaring in a crest, the lion often has a red tongue that resembles flame, and when rearing up, the lion is drawn with sharp, mean-looking claws.
Lions have been used in art and mythology since time immemorial as guardians, judges and magical beings. Lions first appeared in art 30,000 years ago in a rock painting by hunters of the ice age. The hunters respected the lions enough to paint an image of the big cats hunting prey. The lions’ hunting techniques were employed by man who gained as much success in hunting as the lions. This led to lions being regarded not just as regal, powerful animals but respected teachers.