Lions have been used as fierce, powerful symbols since ancient times and in many different cultures. In parts of India, this creature is seen as an emblem of both community and the heroism of ancestors, while in Egypt and Japan it has been used as a symbol of protection. Throughout many cultures, these strong, wild cats have become the image of everything from courage to royalty, victory to fortitude. Because of this, it is not surprising to find that many people who have overcome large obstacles favor lion tattoos over practically any other design. In addition, some choose to use this animal to represent themselves or loved ones as being born under the astrological sign of Leo.
Lion tattoos often feature this cat in a realistic fashion. In some cases, the lion is depicted as a mild, docile creature, often laying sprawled out along an arm or leg, while other pieces may show the fierce side of this animal. In this scenario, the lion may have its large fangs exposed, it may be shown swatting at the onlooker or taking down another animal. Some people like to use the realistic image of these animals to represent a fierce protection of family. These images may show one or more adult lions surrounding the much smaller cubs.
Cartoon-like lion tattoos are another popular option. These pictures typically depict the animal as rough, often colorful sketches that are loosely based on the real thing. Some variations on this style include dressing the animal up in clothing or sheep hide, or having it do unusual things like drive a car or perform a magic act. One unique idea for this particular style would be to create a film reel effect featuring the cartoon lion in various stages of movement.
Art from a number of cultures can also be used as inspiration for lion tattoos. In Japan, what is known as Shishi – or the lion protector – is set on either side of an entrance to help protect the building. As a piece of body art, these lions can be placed on either side of the heart or on larger areas of the body such as the back or thighs. Shishi are often fierce-looking creatures that are typically painted in bright shades of red or green and gold, but may also appear in stone-like gray or creamy yellow.
Images for lion tattoos may also be taken from folklore and mythology. For example, the giant Nemean lion of Greek mythology could be depicted growling – powerful jaws agape, large fangs glistening – at Hercules. While Hippomenes and Atalanta may be depicted as half human, half lion figures pulling the golden chariot of Cybele.