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Sunflower Tattoo Meaning and Symbolism

Having a tattoo is one of the most important decisions you can make but choosing the right tattoo design can be a real challenge. While flowers are among the growing trends in the tattoo industry, sunflowers are one of the most popular floral tattoos. If you want to learn about its symbolism, keep reading to know more. You might even get some creative ideas from this article if you are interested in getting a meaningful sunflower tattoo.

A girl with sunflower tattoo on her left arm

Sunflower and Its Unique Qualities

Deriving its name from its unique attributes, sunflowers are known for their tendency to follow the journey of the sun, facing the sun as it moves in the sky over the course of the day. This, along with the sunflowers beautiful color and shape, has given the flower several meanings that make it an ideal tattoo option for most people. Here are some of the meanings associated with the sunflower tattoo.

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  • Happiness and Joy

The sunflower, also called the happy flower, is considered a most positive symbol with its bright and radiant yellow color. This is because of its association with the sun and its golden hues – two things commonly associated with happiness.

If you want a scientific reason for this, the rays of the sun are believed to trigger the release of serotonin, a chemical commonly linked to happy feelings and to living longer. As a sunny day brings a joyful mood to people, the sunflower also provides happiness and a sunny disposition. So, in a nutshell, the sunflower symbolizes happiness and makes you think of warm, sunny days with bright associations.

  • Hope and Peace

Sunflowers may also symbolize hope due to their unique ability to extract toxins from their environment.  These flowers played an important role in the aftermath of certain nuclear disasters, where they were used to remove radioactive agents. After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, sunflowers were planted as a symbol of peace and hope. As an old Maori proverb says, Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.

  • Friendship

Traditionally to the florists, yellow flowers mean friendship. Although some say that this is a modern invention of commercialism, sunflowers have come to represent happy and fruitful friendships. In the tattoo industry, sunflower tattoos make an excellent matching friendship tattoo concept for best friends or even a group of friends.

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  • Devotion and Loyalty

The sunflower’s devotion to the sun, and its ceaseless following of the sun’s journey, has become a symbol of devotion and loyalty. This doesn’t have to be devotion to another person; it can also symbolize loyalty to a goal or plan.

  • Ambition and Inspiration

If you’re looking for a symbol of ambition or inspiration, the sunflower should be on your radar. These flowers are said to represent lofty thoughts and achievement. This association is due to the flower’s devotion to the sun, an emblem of purity, achievement and power. It’s also because the sunflower stands out in the garden from among the other plants.

  • Healing

Sunflowers are associated with vitality, strength and healing. In the past, the flower was believed to offer protection against smallpox, and many would wear a sunflower seed necklace to protect themselves from diseases. The flower’s tall, straight and strong appearance also strengthens this association.

Symbolic meaning of sunflower

Sunflower in Greek Mythology

Like many flowers, sunflower tattoos are associated with romance, and represent adoration and loyalty. This symbolism originates from the story of Apollo and Clytie in Greek mythology.

In the story, Clytie, who was a nymph, deeply adored Apollo, the god of the sun. Unfortunately, Apollo did not reciprocate her feelings. Depressed from the unrequited devotion, Clytie turned into a sunflower.  In some other sources, it was her unconditional love and loyalty that turned her into a sunflower.

Although there are several variations to the myth, most believe that Clytie’s unconditional love for Apollo continues to bloom, as sunflowers consistently turned towards the sun.

Where to Place Your Sunflower Tattoo?

Sunflower tattoos are not meant to be hidden. These are beautiful and eye-catching designs, regardless of their size, so you might want to place the tattoo in a location that’s visible. Consider the following positions for a sunflower tattoo:

  • Arm
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Leg
  • Abdomen
  • Wrist

Naturally, the ideal placement would depend on the size of the tattoo. For smaller tattoos, think of the wrist, fingers, ankle, neck, elbow, behind the ear or abdomen. For larger, more extravagant designs, you’ll need more real estate, so consider your back, shoulders, arms and abdomen.

Sunflowers Tattoo Designs

Incorporating different elements in a sunflower tattoo can change its meaning. One of the best things about sunflower tattoos is that there are plenty of creative and unique variations. Here are some popular variations to give you some ideas on creating meaning or interpretation.

1- Sunflowers and Butterfly

Incorporating insects as additional elements can make a simple sunflower tattoo look unique and elegant. Aside from creating artistic imagery, sunflower tattoos with insects like ladybugs, butterflies, or caterpillars can change the symbolism of the tattoo.

One of the most creative concepts is a combination of butterfly and sunflower tattoo. This combination symbolizes transformation showing every individual goes through growth toward a brighter life full of happiness and joy.

2- Sunflowers with Stem

Aside from emitting positive energy, a stemmed sunflower tattoo is a perfect choice if you are aiming for prestige. With its tall stalks, stunning yellow lush sunflowers have come to symbolize stature and esteem. Ideally placed on the arm, leg, or on your back, a classic stemmed sunflower tattoo is a perfect image for success or to commemorate a memorable milestone.

3- Sunflowers and Lunar Imagery

Pairing sunflower tattoos with lunar imagery is a unique illustration to symbolize balance. A remarkable concept of unifying two contrasting the elements of the moon and sun, the combination represents universal harmony between opposites.

These contemporary-looking tattoos are similar to the yin and yang concept. Originating in ancient Chinese culture, the yin and yang is a complex relational concept in which opposing forces complement each other.

4- Sunflower Skull

For an edgy look, consider a sunflower skull design. This tattoo designs symbolizes duality when it comes to your personality, representing both the bright, warm side and the darker, tougher side. It can also be a symbol of good and evil in the world, and how one can’t exist without the other.

Wrapping Up

Sunflower tattoos are among the most meaningful and versatile design elements when it comes to inking your body permanently. There are many ways to make your sunflower tattoo convey the message you want it to, by adding elements to the design that enhances the symbolism of the flower.  

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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.