Rose tattoos have a surprising history and carry a good deal of symbolism. In the 16th century, rose tattoos were given to prisoners who were sentenced to death. Today, though, the meaning has undergone a massive change. Rose tattoos are now often associated with romance and love. They are can also symbolize deep religious respect (as the red rose is seen as a representation of the blood of Jesus Christ), death and even beauty.
When getting a rose tattoo, it is important to remember that each color has its own significance. For instance, orange represents desire; white means purity; red means love, etc.
After choosing the color, you can decide on a design. Though a lot of rose tattoos have a distinctly feminine appeal, there are also more masculine aspects that can be intertwined with the image. Many people choose a tribal rose tattoo as opposed to the more literal depiction. The dark colors and sharp edges make this a great unisex choice. Roses can also be used in designs featuring crosses, skulls, angels and even koi fish (which are a well known symbol of masculinity).
Some people like to use a more striking image in their rose tattoos. For instance, a monotone scene — a portrait of a person, a scroll with stylized writing — with a large, bold red rose growing alongside of it.
Rose tattoos can also be used alongside the yin and yang symbol. The rose is usually seen as a symbol of femininity, whereas the thorns on a rose are generally a symbol of masculinity. Showing dark and light, thorned roses intertwined, placed in a similar manner as the yin and yang, may create a similar meaning — that is, male and female; light and dark, and balance as a whole.
Rose tattoos can be big and bold, or small and monotone. They can be intricate or simple. But whatever way you decide to go about featuring the rose, it can be an expression with a good deal of meaning and emotion attached.