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Tattoo designs - I >> Ivy & Vine

Ivy & Vine Tattoos - Vines, Grape Vines and Ivy have long been prominently featured in tattoo designs and symbols, often intertwined with other floral and plant symbols, but often times on their own. Because of their shape and form, vines of all kinds have long been popular with tattoo artists for their ability to be draped, twisted, and coiled on the human body. Like water, smoke and flames, the leaves and tendrils of vines give extraordinary freedom to both the tattoo artist and the tattoo enthusiast to integrate different tattoo images and to use the natural aesthetic lines of the body. Aside from their natural graphic and design appeal, vines and ivy have a rich symbolic history all on their own.

Bacchus, who was the Roman god of wine and revelry (a.k.a. 'Dionysius'), wore a crown of the evergreen Ivy as the symbol of immortality.

Likewise, Osiris (the god of the afterlife, underworld or dead), in ancient Egypt, who was represented as carrying a rod entwined with Ivy at all times.


A cult of worshipers grew around the god, Bacchus, to celebrate the joys of liberation through intoxication. The revelers often wore the crown of Ivy, too, believing it complimented or counter-balanced the effects of the grape. (Ironically, Ivy also stood for intellectual achievement in ancient Rome.) Legend tells of Bacchus evading his enemies by crossing a bridge of vines and ivy over the Euphrates River. Another myth finds Bacchus pursued by pirates at sea -- and saved when the enemy ship's rigging became crippled by clinging Ivy. The Ivy-crowned head of Bacchus can be seen on ancient Roman coins, circa 48 BC.

In old Ireland, the Celts regarded the Ivy as a symbol of determination, death, and spiritual growth. When portrayed with its spiral growth around a tree it represented rebirth, joy and exhilaration. The power of the Ivy to cling and bind and even kill the mighty oak impressed the ancient Druids. In respect of Ivy's strength, they and other Pagan cultures used it in sacred rituals. As an evergreen plant, it became a symbol of everlasting life, and it was the Irish poet who traditionally wore the Ivy crown.

Christian artists saw the Ivy's spiralling growth as a sign or symbol of the Resurrection. It represented the ascension of the spirit to the Divine. Earlier, the Christian church rejected both the Ivy and Vine as pagan symbols. They were being used in the Roman Saturnalia celebrations of winter, during which the god's staff was made of Holly and his sacred bird was said to nest in Ivy. Centuries later, the Holly and the Ivy became inseparable as Christmas plants, their Pagan connections forgotten.


In times past, lovers took the Ivy to be the symbol of their fidelity. Brides carried it in their wedding bouquets, while women wore it for fertility and good luck. Must have been Ivy's reputation for multiplying in the toughest conditions, growing even in near dark. In Victorian times, the Ivy was a symbol of wedded love and friendship in matrimony.

Vine Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!In England, Ivy is a popular Christmas plant bringing good luck and joy. Grow it up the wall of your house and your life and property will be more secure and better protected. Just try taking it down!

Get inspired by some great images and photos in our Ivy Inspiration Galleries

See also: Flower & Plant Tattoo Index

Ivy and Vine Tattoo design ideas at Tattoo Johnny

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Tattoo designs - I >> Ivy & Vine

Tattoo Symbol Index - A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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