The Lion is an ancient symbol, one that has been incorporated into the religion and mythology of numerous cultures and civilizations since recorded time around the Middle East, India, throughout Africa and bordering the Mediterranean. Lions once roamed the southern reaches of Europe. The influence of the power of the Lion’s symbolism can be seen in it’s representation in both Chinese and Japanese art and mythology, both cultures beyond it’s range.
The Lion was often used as a symbol of Royalty, as in many cultures it was considered the “King of the Beasts”. In early Christianity, as Jesus was seen to be the “King of Kings”, he was often represented by a Lion, and a Lion was the symbol of St. Mark. The Lion is mentioned many times in the Bible and the time when a Lion lays with a Lamb is seen as the dawning of a New Age. The Lion or Leo, is one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac and represents the Sun.
Stone lions can be found in temples and important architectural buildings encompassing the Mediterranean, from Assyria and Egypt, to Babylonia, from Greece to Rome. In African cultures the Lion was a powerful symbol in many Creation Myths, as both Creator and Destructor, and in some cultures the Lion figured prominently in rites of passages to becoming a man and full-fledged warrior. To kill a lion single-handedly was the height of prowess for a hunter. But in many African fables the Lion is often depicted as a vain, arrogant creature who is often out-witted by smaller more clever creatures.
The Lion symbolizes divine and solar power, royal authority, victory, fortitude, pride, nobility, cunning, strength (in Greek mythology, Hercules is renowned for having the strength of ten lions and wore a Lion cape and headdress), courage, justice and protection, fairness and just laws, and images of the Lion have long been used to protect sacred ground. A Lion tattoo may represent some aspects of these qualities to it’s wearer and the Lion is seen as a powerful Guardian figure and protector.
Get inspired by some really amazing images and photos of lions in our Lion Tattoo Gallery