Tattoo Designs & Symbols

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Tattoo designs - O >> Orchids

Orchid Tattoo Designs - Orchid—from the Greek 'orchis', meaning 'testicle'—is a natural symbol of sexuality and procreation, especially among those who choose it as a tattoo design. But the more traditional associations of the orchid are love, luxury, beauty and strength.

The 'Orchidaceae' family is certainly prolific, with 25,000 different species growing on every continent except Antarctica, from sea level to three miles high. Most of them thrive in the tropics. Once thought to be parasites living off other plants, orchids are in fact 'epiphytes', meaning that they grow on top of other plants. As if that's not sophisticated enough, the orchid seed, to germinate, must be penetrated by threads of fungus. Little wonder that this high maintenance flower is not only expensive to buy, but comes laden with symbolic associations.

Unlike other flowers that have served humanity in many useful ways, the orchid seems to be a flower whose reputation lies entirely in its symbolism. Rare and pure of colour, it has simply represented perfection for hundreds of years.

For centuries, the orchid has been a status symbol implying wealth, even greed. In the 1800s, orchids were so highly coveted that collectors dispatched adventurers to the ends of the earth to gather ever rarer specimens in the wild. While the flower's beauty inspired the emotion behind the obsession, it was the status the orchid brought its owner that may have been even more intoxicating.

Ancient Greeks associated orchids with virility and strength. They believed that the sex of their unborn child could be influenced by ingesting orchid roots. If the father ate large ones, the child would be male, and if the mother consumed small tubers, a girl would be born. It's hard to imagine such a superstition surviving very long with its integrity intact. But the orchid's more conventional associations have survived to this day.

The orchid has been a symbol of beauty and luxury because it has always been rare and expensive. The gift of an orchid was considered the most special floral gift, and was the most impressive bouquet at the weddings of the social, political and economic elites. Today, the price of an orchid may be within reach of most people, but it still carries its rare and exotic mystique. And what's rare and delicate is also considered beautiful, especially if the wealthy desired it with such passion.

Whatever the colour of the orchid, it's purity conveys messages of love, beauty, wisdom and thoughtfulness. In China, the orchid speaks of the innocence of children, and of refinement. A pink orchid is synonymous with affection, and is the appropriate 14th wedding anniversary flower. The natural choice for Mother's Day is the 'cattalya' variety, because it symbolizes mature charm.

The orchid was considered an aphrodisiac in countries such as Egypt, China, and Africa. Aztecs were said to have drawn strength from the famous vanilla orchid. And the teachings of Confucius included the orchid symbol representing 'numerous progeny'.

Calvin Kline's line of fragrances for women includes 'Purple Orchid'.

The film, "Adaptation" (2002), features the delicate orchid as a reflection of the main characters. One of the characters is writing a novel called The Orchid Thief. The fictional author is addicted to the desire that the orchid stimulates within her. The beautiful, rare and elusive ghost orchid symbolizes the object of all our desires. We all want to be wanted just as the orchid is wanted—yet we conveniently ignore the fact that flowers are frail and wither and die too soon. Our vanity is easily mocked by the flower that naturally and without effort blooms to perfection, then returns to the earth without lament.

Mass-produced orchids still manage to embody the exotic appeal that sent collectors to the farthest flung corners of the globe to find them. Although they are locally available, the wild varieties are still sought after, and new species are still being discovered. To cultivate them is an art which few gardeners ever master, ensuring that the orchid will remain a most extraordinary flower.

Orchid Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!For tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts, orchids are a subject that allows the imagination full rein in terms of size of the tattoo, placement on the body, and a wide-ranging colour palette. It is also a flower, like the rose and the lotus, that is not overtly gender specific. Orchids can be worked into larger tattoo pieces with impunity for both men and women to great effect.

Get inspired by some really amazing images and photos in our Orchid Inspiration Gallery

See also: Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Lily, Cherry Blossom, Jasmine, Lotus Flower, Water Lily, Peonies, Sunflowers, Flower & Plant Tattoo Index, Tattoos for Girls

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Tattoo designs - O >> Orchids

Tattoo Symbol Index - A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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