A sun tattoo design can symbolize a wide variety of concepts, from beginning a new life or emerging from a dark place or situation to widely popular ideas and beliefs such as truth, light, warmth, and positivity. With the sun being so central to all life on Earth, it’s long been a tattoo subject associated with divinity in the religions and cultures of all continents. The sun has been worshipped by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Ancient Egyptians, just to name a few. The sun’s relationship with the moon tattoo design is also a popular feature of various ink cultures, as is the idea of enlightenment, rebirth, and re-commitment, or the growth of something fresh and new from the remnants of a previous experience. Sun tattoo meaning is complex and interesting whether you apply a historical symbolic lens or look at your tattoo idea from a more contemporary perspective. This article will demonstrate some of the main concepts applied to sun-related ink and related imagery, from small sun tattoo art design to larger new wave symbolic meaning.

Sun Tattoo Meaning



Sun Tattoo Designs

Everyone is familiar with the basic design of the sun, but because it is so ubiquitous and full of meaning, it can be customized in a number of different ways. However, most generally, the sun is a symbol for life, energy, and the divine.

In fact, some cultures worshiped the sun and moon as the chief deities of their religion, and many continue to do so today. Even in a scientific sense, the sun is the root source of all biological processes. Similarly, astronomers also attribute great significance to the chief sustainer of life in the galaxy.

Some of the design variations most often found in sun tattoos are:

  • The tribal sun: Often found in Polynesian cultures, where the sun symbolized life, fertility, and growth.
  • Red sun: These are often found in Asian cultures, and the Japanese sun is the most well-known red version.
  • The Celtic sun: In Celtic tradition, the sun was related to the deities, and was known to be the core element of all life.
  • Black suns: These are often used to show rebirth or reincarnation, a change in perspective and other transitions.

What Does the Sun Tattoo Mean?

The sun can mean many things, most often depending on cultural tradition and region. Common meanings include:

  • Growth, fertility
  • Life
  • Light
  • Energy
  • Strength
  • Intelligence, knowledge, creativity
  • Rebirth, reincarnation
  • Power
  • Truth

Symbolism of Sun and Meaning of Tattoo Variations

The sun as a symbol shows up in every society, religion, and culture on Earth, and each attributes its own unique interpretation and honor of it.

In Egypt, the sun was associated with the chief deities Osiris, Ra, and Horus, and was chiefly represented as a circular shape, placed close to representations of these figures.

Native American and Aztec cultures believed the sun had healing powers, and recognized it as the source of fertility in the land.

In Christianity, the sun is often associated with life and rebirth, and sometimes as a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ.

In astrology, one’s sun sign – determined by the sun’s position at the time of birth – is believed to be what gives us each our unique personalities.

Alchemists associated the sun with intellectual activity, and it was often represented as a circle with a dot in the middle. While this symbol was first used in the Renaissance, its use continues in the sciences today.

Sun Tattoo

Best Tattoo Placements

Because it is such a well-known symbol, the sun really can be placed anywhere on the body. For larger size designs, the back is a common placement, but small sun tattoos are often put on the back of the neck or on the foot. Both men and women also commonly wear sun tattoos on their arms, thighs, and wrist.

The Message Sun Tattoos Convey Is…

Light, life, and growth are a potential every day, just as the sun is guaranteed to rise.

If you Wear a Sun Tattoo, You are Likely to Be…

Someone who has overcome adversity, knowing that the sun rises again each morning, or someone who wants to be reminded of growth, particularly in a personal sense.

Symbolic Sun Tattoo Design Ideas

Filipino Tribal Sun Tattoo Designs

Black Ink Chest Filipino Sun Mens Tattoo Ideas

The Filipino Sun is one of the more popular Asian tribal tattoos seen decorating bodies, serving to represent freedom and unity.

The simple black sun is an enticing and powerful piece that’s usually designed with the traditional eight rays or incorporating several small sun rays between the larger eight ray design.

Many have embraced this black sun tattoo as a standalone piece, but it’s often paired with other remarkable Filipino tribal patterns to give the work different meanings.

Distinctive Male Filipino Sun Tattoo Designs On Upper Arm

Tribal Sun Tattoo Meanings

Maori Male Tribal Sun Chest Tattoos

Tribal sun tattoos often garner amazing results with simple depictions of black ink and linework tattoo art.

Every ancient culture with tattoo history, from the Celts to Polynesians, Mayans, Inca, and Native American tribal cultures, or even many African tribes, possess their own variation of the tribal sun tattoo.

These distinctive sun symbol designs showcase a polished ideal of the orb’s necessity in everyone’s life and are often represented alongside moon tattoo ideas or other important life-giving references.

While some tribal tattoo designs are elaborate, most ink tribal art relies on simplicity of the message, strong black ink, and patterned or symmetrical linework to make links to the tribal tattoo culture the piece represents.

Back Of Shoulder Tribal Sun Shoulder Male Tattoo

Rising Sun Tattoo Meanings

Man With Rising Sun Waves Bicep Tattoo

An icon of Japanese culture, the blood-red sun rising has been around since the Edo Period.

The simplest incarnation of rising sun tattoo art is a round blood rising sun flag, but the most distinctive variations showcase corresponding rays of light added to the sun symbolism.

Mt. Fuji is a focal point of many rising sun illustrations and is popular for those with ties to Japanese culture. The artwork sometimes replicates old-school woodblock prints. The peak can be maximized with fluffy clouds and tasteful cranes, or Shinto features add meditative calm to a traditionally masculine symbol.

Circle Mountains Rising Sun Mens Leg Calf Tattoos

The Sun in the Celtic Cross Tattoo

Celtic Cross Tribal Tattoo andrewjacob93

Source: @andrewjacob93 via Instagram

Few Irish tattoo symbols are more instantly recognizable than the Celtic cross.

Some believe the circle on the cross represents a Celtic sun tattoo and the Roman Sun god Invictus, while others believe the Celtic sun represents Jesus’ halo when he was nailed to the cross.

It could be a holdover from pagan religions, arguing that the iconic image is a combination of an even armed cross within a circle – a common symbol in many pagan traditions-and the Christian cross.

Celtic Cross Tribal Tattoo george_vincent_tattoo

Source: @george_vincent_tattoo via Instagram

Sun Tattoo Meanings

Yellow Simple Sun Tattoo cesar_merca2

Source: @cesar_merca2 via Instagram

The sun symbol can mean anything from beginning a new life to coming out of a dark place or situation, moving into light, warmth, and positivity. The sun is also linked with truth.

It’s the basis for many creation stories across cultures due to the sun’s ability to help most living organisms grow and prosper. A sun tattoo can be paired with countless other images to transform their message.

Depending on what you pair it with, the meaning will change, and sometimes drastically.

Man With Dramatic Palm Tree Sunset Tattoo On Forearm

The Sun Through History and Culture

Forearm Sun And Moon Tattoo Designs For Men

In ancient times, the sun was viewed as a god and worshipped by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. For the Ancient Greeks, it’s often associated with the eye of the god Zeus.

The Ancient Egyptians viewed the orb as the triumvirate of Horus, the rising sun, Ra, the bright sun’s zenith, and Osiris, the setting sun.

Ancient Chinese sun design believed it represented the cosmic eye in the sky and the great male principle, the ultimate Yang.

For Native Americans, the sun can heal and is also the guardian of the day, popular in amulets, wards, and tribal art.

Cool Tribal Sun Circle Mens Hawaaian Tattoo On Chest

Sun and Moon Tattoo Symbolism

Right Hand Top Sun Face Left Hand Moon Face Tattoo

Source: @maiden_and_crow_tattoo via Instagram

In every culture, in every era, in every place, there’s reverence, mythology, and superstition tied to the sun and the moon symbol – they’re two sides of a coin central to the core of every society. It’s for this reason they’re so popular as a tattoo idea worldwide.

The sun and moon tattoo design symbolize the complementary unity of opposites. It’s polarity but without opposition. This isn’t good vs evil, it’s a masculine and feminine symbol, cooperation not conflict.

While the sacred sun symbol is the life-giver, the moon symbol is fertility and the cycle of birth and rebirth. Most of all, the sun and the moon together symbolize perfect wholeness and balance.

Images of the sun and moon make for a perfect matching tattoo: the sun can be as easy as a small tattoo circle with rays against a crescent moon outlined amongst other lunar traits.

Sun and moon tattoo meanings cross the gender divide. A very delicate fine line crescent moon tattoo for the feminine, a heavy black ink tribal sun tattoo for the masculine, the delicately balanced half moon tattoo against the simple sun rays etched in between.


Source: @bloodflowerstattoo via Instagram