The Real Meaning Of A Black Rose Tattoo

Move over red roses, a black rose is the new hot ink to get! What makes this type of tattoo so popular its obvious beauty and subtle elegance. Whether you're interested in the a more traditional tattoo style, or you want to opt for a 3D design, it's guaranteed to be gorgeous — just like Adam Levine's black rose face tat. The Maroon 5 singer was spotted on a red carpet in Miami sporting one, but it turned out that the body art was only temporary, as the singer wanted his face to "stay the same."

You don't have to choose a temporary (or permanent) face tattoo to embrace this growing trend, though. All you need to do is tap into the history behind black roses to fully understand why this design is a timeless choice. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is said to have bled onto white roses when a thorn pricked her, turning the roses red (per Verdissimo). According to Thoughtful Tattoos, most red rose tattoos are seen as a symbol of love because of this, but what about black rose tattoos? Before you get inked, you should know that a black rose actually has several meanings, each of which are uniquely alluring. 

Historically, black rose tattoos are linked to strength and rebellion

Black rose tattoos can indicate rebellion and strength, as Irish warriors often used black roses as a symbol of rebellion against the British (via Thoughtful Tattoos). In the 16th century, there was even a song called "The Little Black Rose," which was a devotion song to the strength the Irish had during their battles, per Irish American Mom. In ancient Rome and Greece, this same importance was attached to black roses, according Venuset Fleur.

In other words, the black rose tattoo does not have to be a sinister symbol even though it's typically linked to loss and grief. The black rose has been used sometimes to signify an unhealthy affection or hatred between anti-heroes, and vampires are often linked to black roses as a reference to the darkness of their hearts, according to Pro Flowers. If any of these macabre tales speak to you, then you can absolutely get this tattoo for either its darker meanings or its historical ties. The most important part of the process when it comes to getting inked is selecting a design that holds meaning for you. The second most important part is for you to research tattoo artists in your area to find an artist whose portfolio fits your style. 

The meaning of this pop-culture black rose tattoo

Black rose tattoos are typically related to grief because the color black is associated with death. People often get a black rose tattoo in memory of someone who has passed away, so the design essentially reflects both love and loss at the same time.

One touching example of a black rose tattoo holding emotional significance can be seen in how Dropkick Murphys founder, Ken Casey, dedicated one to his grandfather, who raised him after his father died. "He taught me most things that make me who I am today," Casey told NPR in 2013. "He was a big union guy in Boston. It's in a visible place for me, and I look down and I see it a lot. ... Oftentimes, I just catch it out of the corner of my eye and it literally changes my mood when I think of him and what a strong individual he was," reflected the bassist.

It is important to note that while black is the color associated with grief in the west, it is not so in Eastern countries such as Cambodia, where people wear white while grieving a loved one (via Funeral Guide). The black rose tattoo can also connote revenge, portrayed in several old movies. A person's body would be marked with a black rose in these films, signifying that vengeance has been meted out on him, and "justice" has been served (per Tattoo SEO).

Black rose tattoos are linked to courage and hope

Lastly, black rose tattoos can also be tied to hope and courage. Sailors would often get black rose tattoos before leaving home if they were uncertain of their return. In these cases, the black rose served as a symbol of courage and as a sign of hope that the sailors would make it back to the people they cared about most (per Tattoo SEO). This is why the black rose tattoo is seen as sentimental symbol for soldiers and other individuals whose jobs require them to put their lives at risk in order to maintain the safety of others. As Tattoo SEO explains, when these professionals face life-threatening situations, they always expect to make it back home, no matter how slim the chances of that may seem. What can exemplify hope and courage better than that?

Interpreting the alluring black rose tattoo as a symbol of hope also stems from the fact that black roses do not exist in reality, according to Tatuantes. People get them tattooed regardless as a way of saying they wish that black roses actually existed.

A black rose means what you want it to mean

In other words, the black rose tattoo does not have to be a sinister symbol. The rising popularity probably has a lot to do with the many differing meanings that are attached to the image. Tattoos, at the end of the day, are unique to the person (and hey, it's totally okay if a black rose just looks cool to you). The most important part of the process of getting inked is for you to research tattoo artists and find a portfolio that fits your style. But if it's a black rose you're going for, you've now got a few insider tips to consider before taking the permanent plunge