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Lion Tattoo Meaning and Inspiration

The lion is one of the most popular animals used for tattoo designs, valued for their versatility and rich symbolism. They’re also gender neutral and are popular by both men and women. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the symbolism and meaning of lion tattoos, their designs and what they represent in different cultures.

What Do Lion Tattoos Mean?

Lion tattoos tend to stand out in comparison to other animal tattoos, just as the ‘king of the jungle’ stands out from the other animals. Bearing a lion tattoo, whether big or small, can say a lot about you and your personality. If you’re considering getting a lion tattoo, it’s important to know what it represents so that you can be sure it’s the right choice for you.

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1- Power, Authority and Masculinity

Lions are massive beasts that can weigh up to 200 kg and are over 2.5m long. They’re so powerful, they can kill a human with a single strike from one of their large paws. Because of its power, the lion has become a common symbol of strength, power, authority and masculinity. Lions are mostly popular as a tattoo choice among men since they strongly represent masculine energy.

Portrayed as the king of the jungle, the lion also represents leadership and strength. Therefore, many tattoo enthusiasts opt for lion tattoos because of these reasons. A lion tattoo typically shows that the wearer is powerful, authoritative and is in control of their life.

2- Wisdom and Pride

To some people, the lion is a symbol of wisdom and lion tattoos portray the wisdom and knowledge of the person wearing it. Lions are often said to be extremely wise animals which is why they’re the rulers of their kingdom. They’re also very proud and ‘don’t concern themselves with the opinions of the sheep.’ Therefore, a strong person does not need the approval of anyone else just like the lion does not need the approval of the sheep.   

3- Courage

The lion is a universally recognized symbol of courage because of its fearlessness and power. Those who wear lion tattoos often choose them to show their courageous and fearless side. For some, the tattoo is a reminder to the wearer to be courageous enough to face life and all the obstacles they have to go through.

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4- Family and Love

In some tattoos, lions can be seen depicted with their family, or their ‘pride’. While this can represent many different things, it mainly signifies the love and protection of their family. Lionesses are responsible for hunting and feeding their family but when in times of danger, it’s the lion who protects his pride.

Types of Lion Tattoos

There are various lion tattoo designs that represent the traits and attributes of the lion. They’re easily recognized and suit various styles of art from geometric to tribal and photorealistic. Take a look at some of the most popular lion tattoo designs to see if you can find the perfect one for you.

Lion tattoos look gorgeous in large sizes and are often depicted on the chest, arms or back. However, small ones can look equally striking and still make an impact. The best thing about small lion tattoos is that they can be placed just about anywhere including on your fingers, neck, forearm, hands or just behind your ear.

The Roaring Lion Tattoo

Roaring lion

The roaring lion tattoo shows pride and power, showing off your strength and dominance. Lions roar as a way of marking their territory and it can be heard for a distance of up to 5 miles. This tattoo can look intimidating and has a masculine feel to it, representing your wild side. It looks best as a larger sized tattoo instead of a small one and suits a thigh, back or chest placement.

The Winged Lion Tattoo

Winged lion tattoo

The winged lion is a mythical symbol that represents St. Mark, the patron saint. It shows a lion in the center, with wings spread out on either side. This symbol was used by emperors and was considered a symbol of leadership for many centuries. As a tattoo, it gives the bearer a powerful and majestic look that’s also intimidating. The idea placement for a winged lion tattoo is the chest since there’s enough space to show the intricate detail of the wings, but it also suits the upper back.

The Lion’s Face Tattoo

Lion's head tattoo

Lions have a majestic and wise look about them, especially in their faces. Lion face tattoos are often chosen by those who are animal lovers or who want to have their tattoo in the realistic art style. Some lion tattoos can be done to look intimidating but a lion’s face presents the peaceful side not only of the animal but also the person who wears this tattoo.

The Female Lion Tattoo

This is a common favorite among women but it’s also often worn by many men. The female lion tattoo carries a lot of meaning because of the role lionesses play in nature. While the lion is the king of the jungle, the lionesses take it upon themselves to hunt in groups to provide for their family and they also take care of the cubs. They’re powerful and deadly predators but they also have a loving and caring side. When worn by men, the lioness tattoo is a perfect tribute to the women in their lives.

The Lion and the Lamb Tattoo

Lion and lamb tattoo

This design is an excellent choice for Christians who are looking for a masculine, powerful and meaningful tattoo. In Christianity, the lion symbolizes Christ’s conquest of death while the lamb signifies his sacrifice. To make this meaning clear, you could include a Bible verse of your choosing near the tattoo or three crosses representing the crucifixion of Christ.

The Lion and Cubs Tattoo

The lion and cubs tattoo is a popular tattoo design among new dads because of its beautiful symbolism. Lions protect their cubs fiercely in the wild which is what this tattoo represents. Therefore, it signifies the love and protection that the father provides his children. This is an excellent tattoo to show the importance of your family and your desire to keep them safe.

The Lion with the Crown Tattoo

Lion with crown tattoo

This tattoo shows the powerful image of the lion with a crown on its head which emphasizes it’s role as a ‘king’. It symbolizes independence, strength and being in control at all times and is often chosen by men who are considered the protectors and head of their family.

The Lion Eyes Tattoo

The lion eyes tattoo is highly popular in the tattoo community because of its intriguing and mysterious look. It’s a perfect choice if you prefer photorealistic art styles. In general, eye tattoos are considered to be lucky since they show that the wearer is always being watched over and protected. They also represent the wearer’s inner personality since the eyes are the ‘window to the soul’. Some tattoo enthusiasts prefer to have white ink details added to the lion’s eyes for a realistic effect.

The Geometric Lion Tattoo

Geometric lion

Geometric lion tattoos have a futuristic and modern look to them, making them stand out in any crowd. Often chosen by those who prefer more abstract tattoos than the traditional kind, this tattoo looks attractive and unique. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a geometric lion tattoo since there are numerous options.

Symbolism of Lion Tattoos in Different Cultures

Throughout history, the lion has been portrayed in mythology, astrology, movies, legends and ancient cultures. In some ancient civilizations, these majestic animals were own by royalty and symbolized the power and strength of the king. In most cultures, the lion is a symbol with more positive than negative connotations.

In Ancient Egypt

Lions and lionesses were both considered by the ancient Egyptians as spiritual animals that were closely linked to the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. This is why there are several lion-headed Egyptian deities (mainly goddesses). The Sphinx is a mythical creature that celebrates the lion’s power and the famous monument which has stood for many centuries still continues to fascinate anyone who sees it today.

In China

In Chinese culture, the lion is considered a symbol of guardianship, power and good luck. The Chinese believe that this majestic beast is also symbolic of the sun and the earth. The people of China often perform ‘lion dances’ at festivals or big events to chase away the evil spirits and bring good fortune.

In Greece and Rome

To the Greeks and Romans, the lion was a symbol of love, fertility and masculinity. It was typically associated with the goddess Aphrodite who presided over love, procreation and beauty. The lion is also highly significant in Greco-Roman mythology. One of the most well-known myths involving a lion was the myth that tells of Hercules battling the Nemean Lion, the personification of power and strength. Many Greek and Roman lion tattoos often show the battle between the lion and Hercules.

Celebrities with Lion Tattoos

The lion tattoo is probably one of the most popular tattoo choices among celebrities today. Here’s a quick look at some famous celebrities showing off their lion tattoos.

  • Justin Bieber has about forty tattoos covering almost 95% of his body and he recently added a new one to the collection – a lion tattoo. The tattoo is right on the left side of his chest, just under a crown tattoo that he had done previously, so it now looks like the lion is balancing a crown on its head.
  • American singer Demi Lovato shows off a beautiful realistic art style lion face tattoo on the back of her left hand which she says holds a lot of symbolism to her. According to Demi, the tattoo represents her son ‘Lionheart’, her favorite animal and her Zodiac sign Leo.
  • Ed Sheeran wears an enormous, beautiful, watercolor lion head tattoo smack dab in the middle of his chest. The singer revealed the meaning behind his tattoo, stating that the lion is the national emblem of his country, England.
  • American actress Christina Ricci recently got a beautiful tattoo of Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on the upper left side of her back. She says that the tattoo symbolizes her childhood which was ‘hellish’ since she struggled greatly during that time. She says that she managed to escape from the struggles when she was 18 and like Aslan the lion, was finally free.

In Brief

If you’re considering getting a lion tattoo, make sure you do your research and choose a design that suits you the best. There are many potential meanings for lion tattoos, so it’s important to communicate with your tattoo artist so that they’ll know exactly what you want and how you want it done.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.