One of the more common tattoos done by artists, lion tattoos have strong meanings like ferocity and protection.
Lion tattoos are popular because the lion can be depicted in so many ways.
They are typically drawn in a portrait style to capture all of the beautiful details.
For a lion portrait tattoo, you’ll need a lot of skin real estate.
Even if you are just getting the head and mane, which is a common choice, your tattoo artist will need lots of space.
This is the only way to make those wild details pop.
Many people choose to get their lion tattoo in black & grey or with a golden, sepia tone.
That said, some hints of color can give your piece an individual touch.
Some people like to get creative with lion tattoos, giving them a more abstract artistic look.
Lions have become a cool choice in the watercolor tattoo world.
They may be ferocious beasts, but their long flowing locks give them a soft, feminine feel.
Some artists like to play that duality up.
They may replace the lion’s mane with flowers, feathers, or even constellations.
If you’re someone with a healthy serving of masculine and feminine traits, you may like this option.
A lion with masc and femme elements can reflect how you feel on the inside.
There are so many lions in pop culture, and some lion tattoos are a reference to specific characters.
This is a fun way to show off your fandom and start conversations with like-minded people.
These lion tattoos are typically more playful and may be done in a cartoony or New School tattoo style.
Lion Tattoo Meanings
A lion tattoo serves a deeper meaning to those who get it, saying a lot about the person sporting it.
Let’s find out by exploring the tattoo meanings behind lion tattoos and what they mean to the people who wear them.
- Protection: Especially when talking about the lioness, the lion is a protector of its pride. The lion in Buddhism symbolized the battle between good and evil as well as the balance between them.
- Courage: A lion can be meaningful to someone who feels like they don’t have a voice. The lion stands up for himself and defines what is means to be courageous. If you have a lion tattoo, you will not back down from danger.
- Royalty: The lion is the king of his domain. He is nature’s symbol of regal power. If you want to emphasize this, a mountain lion tattoo asserts being one with nature while ruling the land.
- Ferocity: Have you overcome something in your life that many others couldn’t face? Hone in on your dominance and fierceness with a lion tattoo that demands strength.
You might not be able to think of yourself as a brave, fearsome warrior, but you can definitely get a lion tattoo that symbolizes your strength.
Being the leader of the animal kingdom, the lion represents bravery and leadership.
In cultures across the world, the mighty lion is known for its courage and roar, and by getting inked with a lion, you’re honoring your own personal power.
The lion tattoo is a symbol of courage, royalty, leadership, strength, and ferocity.
Those with the lion tattoo are not afraid to spearhead a cause or to speak their minds.
Their tattoo meanings span across cultures— from Buddhism to Christianity, people have been getting lion tattoos for thousands of years.
Chinese Lion Tattoo Meaning
Chinese lion tattoos, also called Foo Dogs, have long manes that appear to be blowing in the wind along with massive fangs.
They are intimidating creatures!
The Chinese use guardian lion statues in front of public buildings including temples, supermarkets, and restaurants to provide mythic protection.
They even have a Buddhist meaning: Han Chinese Buddhists believed lions are protectors of Dharma, meaning cosmic law and order.
Japanese Lion Tattoo Meaning
Japanese lion tattoos can be symbolic of two qualities: The strength and honorable instincts we work to harness in our daily lives, and the gentleness we need to bring out in one another.
A Shi Shi lion is a Japanese lion symbolizing protection.
Japanese tattoos and Chinese lion tattoos have similar meanings, both rooted in Buddhism.
Japanese lion tattoos often come with peony flower tattoos and the Japanese pattern called Shippo, meaning never-ending peace and harmony.
Many people opt for more traditional black and grey tattoos, which are less colorful but still, have an artistic appeal, while others prefer more intricate color palettes, such as those used in Japanese tattoo designs.
Aztec Lion Tattoo Meaning
An Aztec-style tattoo is an example of a type of tribal tattoo with distinct flavor and style.
The lion faces are often symmetrical with thick manes filled in with long flowing tribal tattoo patterns.
The lion is not a traditional Aztec tattoo, however, if there were lions in Mesoamerica, the tattoo would have likely symbolized the strength of a warrior.
Lion Tattoo Meaning In Christianity
Who better for the lion to symbolize than Christ himself?
The tattoo meaning of the lion is a powerful religious symbol for Christians all over the world.
It symbolizes Jesus’ sacrifice and courage.
But before Jesus— the lion was the symbol of Judah, the ancient Israelite tribe.
Main Themes in Lion Tattoos
Lion tattoos can be interpreted in many different ways depending on their look and feel.
When you start to look at inspiration for your lion tattoo, think about why you’re drawn to this particular animal.
Do you admire their hunting prowess, or is it more about the regality of a male lion bathing in the sun?
Maybe you want a tattoo to represent your family and a lion pride resonates with you and your offspring.
Let’s go through a few common tattoo designs in lion tattoos, what they represent, and how they may be interpreted by an onlooker.
Roaring Lion Tattoos
A roaring lion commands attention, striking fear into all who hear it.
When you see someone with a roaring lion tattoo, you know this is a person not to mess with.
This tattoo meaning is ferocity, and that you will not back down in the face of danger.
A lion may use its roar to warn their pride of incoming danger or to assert their dominance.
Lions do not shy away from a challenge, and they don’t mind causing a stir when they need to.
A roaring lion tattoo could be a worthy talisman for a person who isn’t afraid to speak their truth and show themselves to the world.
It could also be a great tattoo design for someone who is trying to become more confident and outspoken.
Roaring lions are an empowering reminder to make your presence known and take up space.
Roaring lion tattoos are also used to represent those who will protect the people they love by any means necessary.
It’s a truly powerful symbol and dynamic tattoo design.
Baby Lion Tattoos
Lion cubs look soft and cuddly, but it only takes them about three years to become fully grown, so don’t underestimate these little guys.
A baby lion tattoo on its own represents potential.
This would be suitable for someone who is at the beginning of a challenging journey and isn’t afraid of the obstacles that await them.
If you’re planning on coming out the other end like a warrior, a baby lion tattoo will remind you of that goal.
Lion and cub tattoos are a popular choice for new parents.
Because lions are so fiercely protective of their young, this could be the perfect way to show the world your dedication to your kids.
Lion Tattoos with Crown
Lions maintain a kind of social order in the wild and have dominion over all the other animals due to their superior strength.
This is why we commonly associate lions with royalty.
That, and their regal gaze as they survey their kingdom.
Lion tattoos with crowns tend to symbolize leadership.
Have you recently taken a more dominant role in your life, family, or place of work?
A crowned lion tattoo design will powerfully commemorate that transition.
Steampunk Lion Tattoos
With the right balance of mechanical and biological themes, a steampunk lion tattoo is elegant enough to create intrigue while being subtle enough to not overwhelm.
Steampunk tattoos have a futuristic feel emphasizing the relationship between the human body and machinery, as well as the relationship between flesh and metal.
Whether you’re into robotic or mechanical designs, the meaning you attach to the tattoo will vary from person to person.
For some, the interpretation is as simple as an exploration of what it means to be human.
Lion King Tattoos
The most famous lion in American pop culture is Disney’s The Lion King.
Simba’s story has been told and retold. In animation, on Broadway, and through impressive modern techniques in the live-action remake.
Simba leaves his pride in shame when he is a young cub.
What he doesn’t realize is that he has ultimately abandoned his family, and they struggle without him.
When Simba owns his power and decides to redeem himself, the order is restored.
This is a similar narrative to Heracles.
If you choose to get a tattoo of your favorite cartoon lion, you may be paying homage to your coming of age.
A lion king tattoo can also be a dedication to serve your community as an effective leader.
Or maybe you just can’t wait to be king!
Lion Head Tattoos
A lion head tattoo is a popular choice for those who want to add a majestic element to their tattoo.
These tattoos often feature lion tattoos with crown tattoos, and both the head and the crown can be drawn in different styles.
They also look great on their own or even paired with other symbols like flowers or skull tattoos.
Lion Skull Tattoos
Sure, a lion is a majestic creature that will always be part of our collective imaginary — but what about the side we never see?
Walking the line between gorgeous and unsettling, a lion skull tattoo is another popular way to pay tribute to the king of the jungle.
Ferocious and mighty, the lion skull tattoo is a unique sight to behold.
Lion Tattoos with Flower Tattoos
Lion tattoos are the perfect representation of feline grace and agility alongside incredible beauty and style.
While flowers are known for their delicate beauty, a lion is known for its ferocity.
Combining a lion tattoo with a flower tattoo brings out the best in both worlds, emphasizing the grace of the lion rather than its ferocity.
Lion Tattoos with Roses
Many lion tattoo designs also feature rose tattoos.
The rose has a way of softening the fierceness of a lion, and that is by design.
Roses usually symbolize passion and beauty, especially in the feminine sense.
Lion tattoos with roses symbolize a balance between soft and strong, masculine and feminine.
It’s a beautiful tattoo design because there are times in life to be both soft and strong.
Being either consistently dominant or constantly vulnerable can destroy you in different ways.
There’s great value in knowing when to listen quietly and when to bare your teeth.
This tattoo design would be well suited to someone from either end of the spectrum who wants to achieve that balance.
Winged Lion Tattoos
Winged lion tattoos may represent different things, as they’re popular images in a few myths and folktales, including:
- The Griffin, a half lion half eagle that is considered the king of mythological creatures. Griffins are often featured on shields, crests, and suits of armor, representing power, prestige, and bravery.
- St. Mark the Evangelist, who had a vision of a winged lion in Venice. The lion was the form an angel chose to appear to him and deliver a message: “May Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist. Here your body will rest.” St. Mark keeps pretty busy as a patron to lawyers, pharmacists, secretaries, prisoners, and the sick/dying.
- Lamassu- a “chimera” and protective deity and guide from Sumerian mythology. Spot this figure in Mesopotamian art. As a tattoo, this winged lion is a protective symbol.
Because lions are dominant over the land, giving a lion wings would give it dominion over the sky as well.
A winged lion tattoo could be a worthy symbol for someone who wants to conquer many areas in life.
What about the Lioness tattoo?
Let’s not forget the female representation of a lion, whose tattoo meaning is bravery and independence.
Just as a mother lioness protects her cubs, the tattoo of one brings with it the power of motherly courage.
When it comes to tattoo symbolism, there’s really nothing stronger than a lioness tattoo.
The gentleness of motherhood is also associated with this beautiful creature — which is why mothers often choose this tattoo motif to express their love for their family.
A lioness tattoo is a perfect choice for female and male tattoo lovers alike.
Lion and Lioness Tattoos for Couples
Matching lion tattoos are a popular choice for couples looking to get tattoos that represent their relationship.
These tattoos feature the king of the jungle and his loyal mate, the lioness.
The two can be shown in a variety of poses — from facing one another as they gaze into each others’ eyes to walking side by side as they explore their surroundings.
Couple tattoos that feature a lion tattoo and a lioness tattoo show your love for each other in a unique and artistic way.
The king of the jungle and his queen can be depicted in many ways: some with a crown upon their heads, some with lettering tattoos.
Lion Tattoo Designs
Lion tattoos are a beautiful representation of a beautiful beast!
Which symbolic meaning resonates most for you?
If you’re still not sure what type of design you’d like, take a look at our lion tattoo gallery for some of our faves.
- Black & Grey Lion Tattoos
Lions are famous for their colorful manes, but black and grey tattoos prove that your lion doesn’t need color and contrast to be intimidating and fierce.
Black and grey tattoos can symbolize strength and perseverance as well as solemn severity.
A black and grey lion tattoo, then, is the perfect symbol of strength and fierce bravery.
- Realistic Lion Tattoos
Realistic tattoos are the true epitome of intensity and strength.
With a lion tattoo, you’re already bringing in elements of strength and power.
A realistic lion tattoo combines the strength and guttural power of a genuine and realistic tattoo with the fierce muscular strength and beauty of a lion to create a powerful and surreal lion that grins back at anyone who looks at it.
- Contemporary Lion Tattoos
Contemporary lion tattoos blend modern elements of color and architecture with the classic silhouette and style of a strong lion’s face.
These tattoos stand out as contemporary masterpieces that blend modern art and traditional lion styles for a perfect touch of strength and beauty.
With clean lines and colorful design styles, you can’t go wrong here!
- One Line Lion Tattoos
These elegant, single-line tattoos bring out the feline grace that’s hidden within many powerful lions.
Strong, crisp line-work that’s all interconnected brings out the intricate detailing of the inner lion as well as adding shape, dimension, and grace to the natural outline of the beast.
A one-line lion tattoo is a great symbol of grace, artistry, and feline power.
- Graphic Lion Tattoos
The lion may not be traditionally considered to be geometrically sound, but graphic tattoos can bring geometrical grace to any animal, especially the lion.
With triangular mountains and elegant shaping, you can define the contours of the lion and create your own shape of the lion.
Elegant boxing and strong lines create a beautiful image of mathematical grace.
- American Traditional Lion Tattoos
For the bold and the brave, a traditional lion tattoo makes a powerful statement.
Featuring a limited color palette and a 2D look, an Old School tattoo it’s instantly recognizable.
They are timeless works of art, and the perfect choice for people who want something that will last a bit longer.
- Illustrative Lion Tattoos
Illustrative tattoos bring new life and artistic glory to the stunning image of the lion.
With flowing manes, carefully detailed fur and muscle toning, and piercing eyes, your illustrative lion tattoo perfectly encapsulates the detail, strength, and fierceness that comes to life from the artwork on your skin.
- Single Needle Lion Tattoos
Lions can be delicate creatures, especially little lions.
Each whisker and chunk of fur is its own fine line or ink stroke, and with a single needle tattoo, you can create a truly delicate and inspired, detailed piece.
A single needle lion tattoo represents the intricate detail and beauty that can be found in all lions especially with this unique and specific tattoo style.
- Sketchy Lion Tattoos
Tattoos have been the subject of powerful pieces of art for many years, and for the artist or creator who feels drawn to these patron saints of powerful protectors, an artistic or sketchy rendering of your lion tattoo is the perfect way to honor your connection to art and power.
Sketchy lion tattoos combine artistic creativity and strength together for the perfect patron protector of expression and self. (See sketch tattoos!)
- Mandala Lion Tattoos
For those who want to explore an even deeper meaning into the lion, the mandala lion tattoo is the way to go.
The tattoo meaning of the mandala lion is the fight of good against evil, but most importantly the balance of the two on Earth.
Mandala tattoos hold incredible religious significance with many communities because of their perfect symmetry and power.
Every mandala is uniquely created to represent a constant ebb and flow, a balance of the universe between good and bad, life and death.
Lions are a part of that circle of life, and a mandala lion tattoo connects the circle of life to lions and their journey of strength and power before they rest in death and continue to the next phase of their life.
- Watercolor Lion Tattoos
Lions are traditionally associated as fierce and powerful animals, so to see them with pastel or more feminine watercolor designs and coloring is an exciting twist.
Watercolor tattoos help create the perfect design style that balances out the fresh and modern colors of today with the traditional styles and strong lion designs of the past, making them great for those who enjoy beauty, creativity, and strength.
- Neo-traditional Lion Tattoos
Inspired by Art Nouveau and using bold, saturated colors, Neo-traditional tattoos have an elegance that adds a level of sophistication to any animal tattoo.
Elegant, artful, and alluring, Neo-traditional tattoos are a stunning choice for anyone who wants to capture the beauty of the lion.
Neo-traditional lion tattoo designs are tailored to fit any part of the body, appealing to both men and women who are looking for a sophisticated, yet classy look.
- Dot-work Lion Tattoos
Dot work tattoos are incredibly detailed and time-consuming tattoos that represent painstakingly detailed artwork and endless hours of creativity, art, and time spent to create the perfect masterpiece.
Lions themselves are impatient but majestic creatures, prone to wandering the savanna and carefully tracking prey.
A lion dot work tattoo might represent a careful and attentive tattoo style as well as a powerful and patient artist who can commit to the time it takes to create beautiful art.
- Geometric Lion Tattoos
Geometric lion tattoos balance the natural symmetry and majesty of mathematics with the incredible power and reach of the natural lion in the wild.
The perfectly balanced and carefully designed lion heads and bodies are majestic and perfectly powerful, just as geometrical tattoo designs are too.
A geometric lion tattoo promises power, strength, and purpose all from your tattoo.
- New School Lion Tattoos
New School tattoos elevate the incredible skill and strength of modern tattooists to new heights with incredible color, portraits, and art styles.
Contemporary color palettes, modern outlining designs, and glossy highlights are all par for the course in New School design, something that makes them a great choice for modern lion tattoos.
A New School lion tattoo signifies a willingness to boldly pursue the new and leave the past behind.
- Black-work Lion Tattoos
Black-work ink often stands out as a severe, threatening, and powerful tattoo style that draws the eye in immediately and commands the attention of anyone who looks at it, much as a lion does in the wild.
A black-work tattoo might represent a lion’s strength and power and their ability to command their kingdom simply yet powerfully.
- Abstract Lion Tattoos
Take your artistic commitment to the next level with an abstract lion that preserves all the best qualities of lions: their innate strength, intensity and power, and conserves them through abstract design and detailing.
An abstract lion tattoo is a perfect way to signal that you’re not just any artistic or tattoo fan, but one who thinks outside the box and enjoys the deeper and more complex themes in life.
- Tribal Lion Tattoos
Tribal lion tattoos are most often just the lion’s head, roaring or standing guard, and usually in black ink.
This tattoo is the epitome of lion symbolism.
The tattoo meaning of this style is the courage to face another day after experiencing a demanding challenge or the loss of a loved one.
Tribal tattoos work to connect the cultural and indigenous histories of many communities with their spiritual ancestors.
Many places around the world consider lions to be patron saints for them, and tribal lion tattoos are certainly no different.
Bring legends of power, strength, and protection with you wherever you go with a tribal lion tattoo!
- Celtic Lion Tattoos
The eternal knots and connections of the Celtic tradition are a well-loved symbol of connection to ourselves, to our families, and to our heritage.
When connected in the shape of a lion, a Celtic tattoo might represent loyalty and bravery for our families and a commitment to protecting the ones we love.
Lion Tattoo Ideas
Ready to implement your favorite lion tattoo idea into real life?
Take these top notch lion tattoo styles and ideas and build them into your next tattoo plan quickly and easily!
- Small Lion Tattoos
Small lion tattoos are designed to be the perfect tribute to the graceful and intimately powerful beings that are lions in real life.
A small lion tattoo is a personal reminder of your own strength and abilities that tucks into your existing tattoos perfectly as a simple and strong reminder of everything you’re capable of!
- Simple Lion Tattoos
A simple lion tattoo is both powerful and consistent in terms of the silhouette and meaning.
Simple lion tattoos work to convey the most beautiful and meaningful of lion meanings, including their simple strength, power, and beauty.
A simple lion tattoo represents your desire to return to the basics and the simple power and beauty of lions.
- Rastafarian Lion Tattoos
Rastafarian is a unique and colorful tattoo style that combines love and peace with the strength and fierceness of lions.
A Rastafarian lion tattoo is a fun way to add a colorful and personalized twist to you lion by incorporating the elements of peace, zen, and mellow positive energy into your lion tattoo.
- Large Lion Tattoos
Large lion tattoos are an incredible statement of strength.
The huge face of a lion staring back at you is a powerful symbol of the royalty and power of the top of the animal food chain, and these strong and dominant figures take up plenty of space while conveying total power and authority as a large tattoo.
A large lion tattoo is a symbol of complete power and control over yourself as well as a sign that there’s nothing you’re not afraid of!
- Mountain Lion Tattoos
The tattoo meaning of mountain lions is one entangled with the lion’s relationship with nature.
The mountain lion is a balance between peace and power.
However, the mountain lion is also the ruler of its region.
As the most powerful predator, the mountain lion tattoo symbolizes royalty, as he is the king of the mountains.
A mountain lion tattoo demonstrates the quiet powerful and intimately strong nature of lions and connects it to the peaceful yet breathtaking mountains as a sign of full natural power and ability.
- Rampant Lion Tattoos
Many people find they have ties to certain royal or prestigious lineages that often use a lion as a predominant feature in their crests and symbols.
A rampant lion tattoo is often a representation of those historic lion houses, one that’s full of powerful historic strength and cultural significance that stretches back for generations.
- Lion Sleeve Tattoos
A lion sleeve represents total commitment to the world and power of tattooing and lions.
With a dominant lion taking over your entire arm, you are showing to the world there’s nothing you’re afraid of and that you’re constantly protected by an incredibly strong and protective lion and that you carry a reminder of their strength and force with you always.
Once you’ve settled on the perfect lion tattoo, it’s time to determine where on your body you want to put your tattoo!
Each location on your body has special significance to both yourself and others, so think carefully about where you want your new tattoo to go!
- Lion Tattoos on Forearm
A lion tattoo on your forearm is a powerful reminder to anyone who meets you of strength, protection, and defense.
The forearm is one of the most visible parts of the body, and a forearm tattoo is the perfect way to explore and defend your intense connection to these natural defenders.
- Lion Sternum Tattoos
For people who want to keep their protection close to their heart, a sternum lion tattoo is the perfect way to keep a protector and guardian lion close and personal at all times.
These tattoos are intimate and personal as well as impressively detailed and designed, so your sternum tattoo is often a very personal masterpiece only the lucky few can appreciate.
- Lion Tattoos on Shoulder Blade
A lion tattoo on a shoulder blade is a great place to tuck a tattoo if you want more space to work in an intense portrait but don’t want to take up your entire back or chest.
A shoulder blade lion tattoo is the perfect way to appreciate the power and beauty of lions fully with plenty of space to explore the details of the lion in all their fierce strength.
- Lion Tattoos on Arm
Putting a variety of lion tattoos on your arm is a great way to create your own tribute to the animal kingdom in a personal way.
Lion tattoos on your arm are a great way to carry reminders of their strength and guardianship with you always as well as creating places for you to incorporate other animal themes into your arm tattoo for a total animal tribute.
- Lion Tattoos on Calf
A lion tattoo on your calf is a great place to tuck a lion tattoo if you want to keep your tattoo personal and specific to you.
Easily hidden yet still visible and powerful if you want it to be, you can create your own lion tattoo and customize your own reminder of strength and protection that will always be carried with you.
- Lion Tattoos on Chest
The lion tattoo is a popular chest piece because it’s an impressive and detailed artwork that stands out immediately on your skin.
The fierce roar and growl of the lion head from your chest shows you’re protected and supported from your lion tattoo that demonstrates strength and sheer force.
- Lion Tattoos on Hand
A lion tattoo on your hand is a sign that there’s nothing you’re not afraid of.
Hand tattoos are some of the more painful tattoos to have done and often need many touch-ups throughout their life.
A lion tattoo on your hand shows to anyone who shakes your hand that you’re instantly protected and capable of handling intense situations easily.
If you’ve been through something difficult in life, and want to show that you are better because of it, you may consider a lion tattoo.
It doesn’t matter that so many celebrities have one— if you feel in your heart that the lion encapsulates the meaning you’re trying to get across, then pick the lion tattoo style that most describes that meaning.
The tattoo meaning of the lion is powerful— so choose wisely.
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