Lion Tattoo Inspiration

Lion Tattoo Inspiration

lion tattoo
By Chile from Vivid Ink Stafford

Lions are among the most popular motives in tattooing. Top athletes like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ben Stokes, Lewis Hamilton, Amanda Nunes, and many more have chosen the feline as a symbol of strength, prowess and general regal swag.

Super model Cara Delevingne was responsible for an uptick in finger tattoos after that TAG Heuer commercial showing off a minuscule mane. Even the writer of this post has a dotwork lion in the shape of Aslan from C.S. Lewis’ books about Narnia.

The lion is often considered as the king of animals. The Leo of the Zodiac is associated with compassion, big-heartedness, drive and natural leadership. On the flip side, the sign can be associated with impatience, dominance, and possessiveness. More than that however, lions appear in so many myths and stories from all over the world. 

Goddesses and heroes

lion tattoo
By George from the Hagley Road studio

Sekhmet was the Egyptian goddess of healing as well as a warrior goddess. She was depicted as a lioness and seen as the protector of the pharaohs. The great Sphinx of Giza is constructed with a lion’s body with the head of a man, while the Greek version of the creature had lion’s haunches, the wing’s of a bird and the head of a woman.

Meanwhile, the Persian legendary manticore had the head of a human, the body of a lion and a tail resembling that of a scorpion or full of venomous spines. 

In Greek mythology we also come across the Nemean lion – a monster killed by Hercules as the first of his 12 labours. The lion had an impenetrable hide, and Hercules had to kill it by strangling it with his own hands. Afterwards, Athena tipped him off that he should use one of the lion’s own claws to skin the pelt. Hercules wore the skin after that as a protective armour against the elements and all but the most powerful weapons.

Protective deities

Chinese guardian lions are highly stylised and often portrayed as one male with a ball and one female with a cub. They became popular in Chinese Buddhism and were thought to protect buildings from harmful spirits or travellers that might be a threat. Similar ‘lion dog’ statues known as komainu guard the entrances to Shinto shrines in Japan. In Burma, they are known as chimthe and flank the gates to pagodas or Buddhist monasteries. 

lion tattoo
By Rich from Vivid Ink Sutton

The Snow Lion roams the land’s of Tibet and symbolizes power and strength, fearlessness and joy, east and the earth element. Meanwhile, Narasimha is an avatar of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu, appearing on earth as half man, half lion, in order to destroy evil and end religious persecution.

Contrary to the sphinx, Narasimha has a lions head and a man’s body. Lions also symbolised the king of Babylon, the Israelite tribe of Judah, and Mark the Evangelist. 

There are so many myths, stories and legends to draw inspiration from for your own personal lion tattoo. There is a reason why it they are such a classic and hold so much meaning to so many people. We can’t wait to see yours.


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