Sunflower tattoo designs, though not common, can be quite striking and rich with meaning. The sunflower, because it blooms only when hottest and then turns its “face” toward the sun, has long been associated with the sun and sun worship.
One of the oldest sunflower legends is the Greek myth of a young maiden, Clytie, who yearned for the sun god Helios. Day after day she would stand and gaze upon him, until one day she turned into a sunflower. Hence, sunflowers symbolize infatuation.
The sunflower’s dark center face, surrounded by a mane of yellow petals, makes it one of the more recognizable flowers. A tattoo design of a sunflower can symbolize worship, longing, glory, or gratitude. On the downside, the “golden” petals are also a symbol of false riches. Sunflower tattoos can stand alone or, as shown below, paired with Incan or Native American images.
To the ancient Incas, sunflowers were also a symbol of their sun god. Incan priestesses wore sunflower shaped discs of gold on their breasts. Today, the technique of tattooing a sun or flower petals around the nipples (e.g. Janet Jackson) is reminiscent of that ancient practice.
Sunflowers were also sacred to the Plains Indians of North America, who placed bowls of sunflower seeds on the graves of recently departed, to provide their souls food for the journey ahead.
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