Geisha Tattoo Ideas, Designs, & Meanings
The Geisha Tattoo
One unique tattoo that you may find interesting is the geisha. Although not a mainstream design, it is popular, especially within the Japanese culture. Worn by both men and women, these are usually very detailed and so they're commonly done in a larger size.
In this article, we will discuss the various styles and meanings of the geisha tattoo. You'll also find many beautiful photos to inspire and help you personalize your own design.
What Is a Geisha?
A literal translation would be "artist," "performing artist," or "artisan." Geisha (aka geiko or geigi) are traditional Japanese female entertainers/hostesses with refined talents in classical music, singing, dance, and conversation, and sometimes poetry, games, art, and calligraphy, which they use mainly to entertain men. The geishas rose as Japan's traditional courtesan culture (1600–1868) declined. The tradition has existed since the 18th century and continues today.
These woman are professionally trained, and professional they are. Some people confuse them with prostitutes, but sex was never the focus of the job. They would sing, dance, play music, display their with or wealth of knowledge about Japanese history or politics. The ability to create a relaxed environment and provide constant entertainment is their specialty. These skills play a special role at tea ceremonies and other cultural events.
The first geishas were men, and the first woman who claimed the title for herself was a prostitute in 1751. As they gained in popularity in the late 1700s, many stopped entertaining with sexual favors and instead focused on other talents. A maiko is an apprentice, and taikomochi are male geisha.
When it comes to creative colorful body art in the human form, very few tattoos can compare to the geisha. A symbol of beauty and mystery, wrapped in a vibrant colorful kimono, she is slender in build and wears white makeup and a black wig or extensions.
The geisha represents feminine power, intrigue, and mystery. She is so specialized and refined that she is somewhat hidden from most of society: for most, she remains elusive, untouchable, and unattainable. It is said that she represents dreams, aspirations, ambitions, and desire. She is also referred to as a "figment of the imagination."
She's associated with the color red, a representation of fertility. Her kimono is of bright, vibrant colors. In paintings, art, and tattoos, she is commonly associated with cherry blossoms, which represent the fragility, beauty, and transience of life. They usually are portrayed on her kimono, or on branches in the background.
Geisha Tattoo Design
As a tattoo, the geisha is worn by men and women. It is considered to be a symbol of the Japanese culture and in Western cultures, it is a symbol of exotic grace and divine beauty. It is usually very colorful and very intricately designed. To capture its true beauty, you really need a talented artist, so make sure you do your research and ask to see the artist's portfolio.
There are a variety of traditional elements associated with the geisha that can be incorporated:
- Japanese samurai.
- Cherries and cherry blossoms.
- Fans and umbrellas.
- Peaches are also symbolic to Japan and the geisha.
- Some include creatures from mythology, such as the dragon and tiger.
- You can also incorporate Japanese writing (kanji).
Make sure you look at many examples so you'll have an idea of what can be done.
A note on scale and placement: To be able to capture the full detail, you will probably need a large tattoo. You might want to consider this before you choose this design. Both men and women most commonly choose the placement on shoulders, arms, or back.
Geisha Meanings and Interpretations
Below, you will find some of the meanings of this beautiful design:
The geisha represents feminine power and mystery. Some get it to represent their culture, while others may choose it for personal reasons.
“She paints her face to hide her face. Her eyes are deep water. It is not for Geisha to want. It is not for geisha to feel. Geisha is an artist of the floating world. She dances, she sings. She entertains you, whatever you want. The rest is shadows, the rest is secret.”— Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
More by this Author
Considering a sun tattoo? This article, which details the history, design, and meaning of the sun tattoo, will help you decide, with sun-and-moon tattoos, tribal, Celtic design, and many photos.
Considering getting a dragon tattoo? Read on for in-depth discussion of the meaning and symbolism of a dragon tattoo, including Chinese and Japanese designs, with many photos.
Hummingbirds are a very popular tattoo symbol. Learn about the design, symbolism, history, and meaning of the hummingbird tattoo.