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Lion Tattoos: Meanings, Designs, and Ideas

Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.

Lion Tattoos: Meanings, Designs, and Ideas

Lion Tattoos: Meanings, Designs, and Ideas

Lion Tattoos: Bold and Complex

Lion tattoo designs can vary in a number of ways and are mainly worn by men, even though women get them occasionally. Like all animal tattoos, these designs often represent the attributes and traits of the lion.

What Do Lion Tattoos Symbolize?

  • strength
  • courage
  • love
  • balance
  • family
  • transformation
  • guardianship
  • wisdom
  • hope
  • power

Although this tattoo is not considered to be mainstream, it is a popular tattoo design. Due to the detailed work and necessary shading, most of them are designed as larger tattoos. The designs often portray the entire lion or just the head of the lion. In some cases, they may even be portrayed with a crown, as shown above.

In this article, we will discuss the lion, its classic symbolism, and tattoo meanings. We will also look at over 30 designs. In the end, we hope that you are able to find ideas and inspiration for your next tattoo.

Lion Symbolism Through History

Just as it is in the animal kingdom, the lion tattoo stands at the top when it comes to animal tattoos. As you will learn in this article, it has been this way for centuries. The lion is portrayed as "the king of the jungle" or "the king of the animal kingdom." When we view the lion in his natural habitat, we can learn about his strong characteristics and learn his symbolic meanings. The lion is one of the most feared animals that walk the planet. The lion is very powerful and some can weigh over 400 pounds. The lion is very intelligent and highly skilled in the animal kingdom. The lion has well-built attributes that make him one of the top predators in the world.

Ancient Civilizations

The lion has been portrayed for many years in ancient cultures, legends, mythology, astrology, literature, movies, and much more. In a few ancient civilizations, lions were owned by kings and royalty. The lion was a symbol of power to the people of the king's power and strength. Interestingly, in Roman mythology, the lion is associated with love.

The lion was also symbolic to the Egyptians—they often portrayed two lions with their backs to one another. These statues represented balance, which was very important to the Egyptians. They would usually place these statues outside of sacred structures. The Egyptians believed in balance, such as sunrise/sunset and east/west. Their lion statues represented this all-important balance.


The lion is also a symbol of Christianity. Some Christians use the lion tattoo to symbolize Christian beliefs. The lion is also a symbolic figure in Islam, in which the lion and the sword represent power. The lion is also a solar animal. This means that the lion has sun-like qualities and characteristics. In many cultures and beliefs, the lion is associated with the sun. It is said that the lion's mane looks like the rays of the sun—a trait that many tattoos often highlight. In other ancient myths, the lion represents the transformation and journey from childhood to adulthood.


The lion is also very symbolic to the Chinese. It represents a symbol of good luck, guardianship, and power. The Chinese also believe that the lion is a symbol of the earth and sun. Many people know that the lion "Leo" is part of the Zodiac. Leo is the 5th sign of the Zodiac, and anyone born between July 23 and August 22 is considered to be a Leo. People born during this time are very highly energetic and are good-hearted people. A Leo is somewhat timid and enjoys control, but they are very generous. Leo also represents balance.

As you now know, the lion has been portrayed throughout human history and they have been symbolic figures for many years. It is one of the most symbolic animal tattoos that are available. Due to all the different meanings it holds, it is highly sought after in the tattoo world. There are also a variety of different designs and styles for it as well. There are tribal designs and Celtic designs, and many more. Before choosing a final design, make sure you check out every style and design that is available. Make sure you choose a design that you are satisfied with.

Lion Tattoo Designs and Meanings

There are many different meanings and beliefs that are associated with the lion tattoo, and thus many factors to consider when choosing it.

  • Power and Authority: These are the two most common meanings. The lion is seen as a powerful animal, and it is portrayed as the king of the animal world. It can also represent strength and leadership. Many different people may choose the lion tattoo for these reasons. It can represent being fearless, as lions are seen as animals that have no fear. This type of tattoo would be well suited for someone that is fearless, or perhaps wants to be.
  • Healing and Hope: This meaning comes from the lion's connection to Christianity. This is represented in C.S. Lewis' character of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • Wisdom: This meaning originates from Buddhist beliefs. For example, someone may decide to get a lion tattoo because they are in a tough situation. To them, it can represent hope and faith; it's there to remind them of that when they look at their tattoo. An older, mature male lion can be portrayed in a tattoo to represent wisdom and knowledge.
  • Courage: This meaning is often thought to have come from the movie, Wizard of Oz. The classic movie portrays how the cowardly lion wanted to have courage. For tattoo purposes, it can represent a sign of courage for the wearer. It can be a reminder to the wearer of the lion tattoo to be courageous in life and everything that they go through.
  • Bravery: Even in this day and age, it remains to be a very symbolic design that has many different significances. Yet it has always been well represented throughout history in the tattoo world and through many different cultures. It can also represent protection, bravery, security, and nobility. Someone may decide to get one to symbolize a brave act that they did, or hope to do. For example, a firefighter puts their life on the line every time that they answer a call—they may have saved someone's life. In both cases, the lion tattoo would be appropriate. It would represent both bravery and courage. Anyone else that works a dangerous job may choose it as a tribute to their commitment to being brave.
  • Family: You may have noticed a few tattoos in this article that have the male lion with their family or pride. Although this can represent different things, it mainly represents the protection of the family. A father may consider this tattoo to show his protective nature for his family. He could also choose this design to represent his love and honor for his family. Since the lion is also associated with royalty, you will also see designs that bear the royal crest. You may have also noticed the tattoo designs that show the lion with a crown. These often represent Christian beliefs or portray how the lion is considered the king or king of the animal kingdom.

Before You Get a Tattoo

It is very important that you research all the different tattooing styles, designs, and meanings before you choose a final design to get tattooed. There are literally thousands of different designs, styles, and meanings to choose from. It is very important to take your time and put in the research. Many people tend to rush into the tattooing process and usually, they will end up with a tattoo that they later regret. Think about this, this tattoo will be with you for the rest of your life.

Also, be sure to go to a tattoo artist that you completely trust. Don't be afraid to ask them questions and ask to see their past work. If you wish, you may be able to go online and look at tattoo artist reviews. I hope you have enjoyed this article.


Janet on October 11, 2019:

What does half a lion tattoo mean?

Has on August 23, 2015:

covered eyes what's the meaning

M WHUTE on November 19, 2012:


Huntall on February 09, 2012:

Apple to Announce iPad 3 First Week in March

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on January 17, 2012:

Rosemay, thanks for stopping by and for the comment and vote. LOL, he really does. Glad you found it interesting Rosemay. Have a good one:)

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on January 17, 2012:

These are fabulous Ricky. Some of them like the image 'Inkarttattoos' look quite sad.

I love the Leo image with his crown askew he looks just a little tipsy. Lol

The information you give is very interesting once again. Voting up

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on January 17, 2012:

Gypsy, thanks for coming by and for the comment and vote. I appreciate your continued support. Have a good one.

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on January 17, 2012:

AE, thanks for dropping by and for the comment. Lion tattoos can symbolize many things, makes them popular.

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on January 17, 2012:

Writer20, thanks for dropping by. I believe it is the new generation. I can't believe how popular they are myself, but they are highly favored now a days.

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on January 17, 2012:

Frank, thanks for coming by and for reading this article. I appreciate your praise. Best wishes.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on January 17, 2012:

Wonderful and interesting hub. Voted up. The lion will always be the king of the jungle.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 17, 2012:

Wow, They are amazing..My favorite...Fashiontipsforall..I've never seen a Lion Tattoo..Thank you..Beautiful hub...

writer20 on January 17, 2012:

I really don't know why tattoo's are back in fashion now for everyone.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on January 17, 2012:

wow lyricwriter these are so nice again wow