If you’re thinking about getting a buddha tattoo, you’ve come to the right place. These are our favorite 131 Buddha Tattoos to inspire you and honor Buddhist teachings…
Buddha, or Siddhārtha Gautama, was a sage who lived and taught mostly in northern India between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE. It is on his teachings that the religion known as Buddhism is based. Buddha means “enlightened one” and his teachings include nine virtues to be revisited during meditation. While the word “Buddha” calls to mind a large, round, bald gentleman, this is not the most recognized form of the Buddha. At its core, Buddhism is a path to Nirvana. Follow the teachings to reach the desired goal; extinguishing the fires of suffering. The Buddha tattoo is a popular image because it reminds the wearer that this is not the end, and to take a deep breath, focus, and carry on in peace.
1. The Face of Buddha
The Buddha can be depicted in many different ways, but is often shown in meditation, with closed eyes. This simple tattoo depicts only the face of the Buddha, in deep concentration. No flamboyant colors, just a soft reminder to practice peace.
2. Buddha Tattoo
This is a wonderful rendition of Buddha, done on a person’s back. The colors are bold and beautiful in this outstanding Buddha tattoo, all complimenting each other really well.
3. Peek a Buddha
It is not necessary for the entire Buddha to be depicted. Occasionally, the image is incorporated with a letter or symbol. Here only the eyes of the Buddha can be seen. The rest of the character is filled with beads, feathers, and a lotus flower to give it some detail.
Hands are not just for henna ink. Here, the back of the hand depicts the full image of the meditating Buddha. There is seemingly no place you can’t put a Buddha tattoo though the hand is one of the more unique and visible.
5. Be Creative
Not all Buddha tattoo art needs to be simple and quiet. This one is pretty complex, with a lot of different pieces and designs worked together to create a really unique sleeve. The Buddha is present as the centerpiece but is highlighted by a number of different designs and textures to really draw attention.
There are many statues throughout Asia that depict the Buddha. Some are massive and carved from stone. This shoulder piece depicts a stone Buddha being worshiped by what appears to be a monk. The devotion to Buddhas image is clear and makes for a really powerful piece of art.
7. Implied Buddha
Not every Buddha tattoo needs to feature the Buddha himself. For instance, the pink lotus is said to be the lotus flower specifically reserved for Buddha. Therefore, having a vivid representation of the flower alone is enough to imply the fundamentals of Buddhism. Lotus flowers in general often depict the various teachings of Buddhist nature, so they need not be pink. The lotus flower grows in many different colors, each with its own meaning. If you like flowers, but the lotus may not be your cup of tea, check out these alternatives.
The Buddha is depicted in several different poses and postures. Each of these also has their own meaning. One of the most portrayed postures is that of Buddha with a hand raised, palm out. This is a posture of protection and freedom from fear. This Buddha tattoo, with the colorful lotus and sky, is a very compelling piece, the Buddha half hidden behind the magnificent flower.
9. Purple Lotus
Though the purple lotus is almost never used these days in Buddhist cultures, it originally represented an homage to Buddha. Often depicted on a cup or platter, it symbolizes the mystic view of religion and spirituality. It is shown here as a part of a mural, featuring not only the flower but also the face of Buddha and a shrine in the background. This entire tattoo acts as an homage, not just the lotus flower.
A Buddha tattoo almost seems to be made for a sleeve piece. This is especially true when putting a lot of elements in the artwork. It ends up not looking as crowded as you would think. In fact, sleeve tattoos like this one give the illusion that this Buddha statue is just being discovered in a patch of dense flora. The lovely pink and yellow flowers really set off the stone colored face of the Buddha. For more awesome sleeve tattoos designs, just click here.
11. Stand Alone
If you happen to be more of a minimalist, something like this Buddha tattoo might be more your style. This one calls to mind a simple pencil design, done in shaded grays and blacks. I especially like the hair in this one, the curls are detached, almost as if they are floating off the head of Buddha. It is interesting. The hand is, again, raised here in the sign of protection.
12. Deep Purple
This Buddha tattoo is magnificently done in vivid colors. It is rare to see so much color in a Buddha tattoo, but this on pulls it off nicely. The colors of the lotus flower and the robe especially pop, making this piece stand out. Buddha has his head inclined, perhaps in prayer, the look on his face one of deep concentration.
13. On the Wrist
For some, smaller is better. This Buddha tattoo rests easily on the wrist. The pose for this one is one of relaxation and meditation. It does not have a lot of details, for obvious reasons, but still manages to convey enough to have a real impact. For more, small but impactful tattoos, check out this wonderful page.
14. Color Splatters
Not all Buddha tattoo art needs to stick to the traditional images or styles. This tattoo is a wonderful example of that. The buddha is done is a sketch style, and the color is only added through the splattered watercolor look. I absolutely love this style of tattoo, it is intriguing and really makes you look twice. There seems to be something new to notice each time you see it.
I’m sure the intentions for this one were good, however, the design leaves something to be desired. The addition of color would go a long way to making it not look like a steaming pile of dung. This is a prime example of the need to double check your design before committing, particularly in an area of the body that you don’t see often, like the back.
16. Small Lotus
This simple lotus flower tattoo is wonderfully done on the heel of the foot. It is a tiny tattoo with a huge impact. The lotus flower has so many different meanings, many of them associated with the color of the flower itself. Clearly, there is not color in this one, giving the wearer the option to utilize every meaning of the flower. Lotus tattoos are gaining popularity and if you are looking into getting one, you can check this page for some ideas.
There are often waves incorporated with Buddha tattoo. I do not know why this is. It could be an indication of Buddha being the calm in the raging chaos that this the sea. It could be because people like the look of the traditional Asian style waves. Whatever the reason, this tattoo utilizes them in a big way, making a border for this wonderfully done Buddha face.
One of my favorite new styles for tattoos is that of the pointillist art. Using small dots to create an image is a unique way to portray things, as you can see in this Buddha tattoo. The Buddha himself and the lotus flower are done in complete fill in, while the flower, or possibly, sunburst pattern behind his head is made up of the pointillist dots. It all comes together so well, making a fun looking piece, even without the addition of color.
Another common feature in Asian style art is that of the dragon. Dragons, like nearly every image used in Asian art, has a number of meanings. Here, the magnificent dragon is coupled with the face of Buddha in a really cool looking sleeve piece. The combination of meanings is significant. Buddha means enlightenment and understanding while the dragon is a sign of luck, strength and power.
20. Backed by Color
Occasionally, it is necessary to make a black and white design pop by adding an accent color. This Buddha tattoo adds that color in red, using it as a backdrop for the face of Buddha. Below the Buddha is a symmetrical mandala design backed by chevrons or zig-zags. There is a lot going on in this Buddha tattoo, but it all flows together to make up on a magnificent piece.
One of my favorites in the group is this stunningly colored Buddha tattoo. It looks as though the statue is underwater, just the head exposed. The green patina has set in, with a little of the original bronze color showing through. I like it because it looks realistic, this could actually be a Buddha statue were it not so wonderfully rendered on flesh.
22. Vibrancy is Okay
Color can really make a tattoo, it can also stand out if you happen to have a really light skin tone. The use of super vibrant colors, like the bright blues and yellows seen here really pop. The darker backgrounds help to highlight the amazing colors on this chest piece. For more amazing chest tattoo ideas for men, have a gander at this and see if there is one for you.
23. Full Mural
Here is a perfect example of the use of a highlight color. This Buddha tattoo covers this man’s entire torso, but the only color used is the nice, crisp red, shown off in the lotus, the bridge, and the leaves of the tree. True to many Buddha tattoo designs, this one depicts a nature scene, with the large sun in the center and the waterfall, which is usually associated with peace and meditation.
This Buddha tattoo is interesting because of its implied meaning. It shows the Buddha, seated upon his lotus flower. He holds the world in one hand, and what could be a representation of the third eye of Buddha in the other. It also features a number of symbols, such as Ohm. This piece is packed with meaning, and the colors are used to highlight some of the most important aspects of it.
25. Think It, Ink It
Buddha is meant to stand for enlightenment and understanding. In this Buddha tattoo, we can clearly see the third eye of Buddha, right in the middle of his forehead. This eye represents the ability to see the reality of the world beyond the limitations of human sight. It is the key to understanding.
This Buddha tattoo is an interesting representation of the Buddha statue. It almost looks robotic. The colors used are simple. Ok, the eyes are creepy. I said it. I can’t tell if they are meant to be closed or glossed over. Either way, it creeps me out.
27. One with Nature
Buddha is often portrayed in nature, and this Buddha tattoo is no different. The golden child is shown sitting in a pond fed by a waterfall. Next to him rests a pink lotus, the flower of Buddha, sitting atop a lily pad. One of the best features of this piece are the super realistic colors and shading done to make it really stand out. It is simply a beautiful piece. I love the inclusion of the birds, showing that Buddha is at peace with all nature, flora, and fauna. There are a ton of idea for bird tattoos available at this link.
For every hero, there is a villain. That is the duality of the world. The evil counterpart of Buddha is a demon known as Mara. The sole purpose of Mara is to keep Buddha from his meditation and study. There is a story that starts with Buddha, after wandering and living as a poor beggar for 7 years, seating himself under a Bodhi tree. He decided to meditate, to see if he can find out the meaning of life in the world. Mara spots him and sends a couple of lovely women to distract the Buddha. Deep in his meditations, Buddha will not be swayed. Next Mara sends evil spirits to drive Buddha away from his place. Buddha continues to ignore them. Lastly, Mara throws a disc of fire at Buddha, meaning to set him and the tree aflame. The disc, upon reaching Buddha, bursts into lotus petals and drifts slowly around the form of Buddha. These two tattoos show the duality of the world, the good Buddha on one side, the evil demon Mara on the other.
29. Ho Tai
Many people associate this chubby deity with Buddha. For this reason, he is often called the “smiling buddha” or “Laughing Buddha.” He is not a Buddha at all, nor is he considered good luck. Ho Tai is more of a Santa Claus than anything else, bringing children gifts in a large sac. The reason he is called Buddha is a simple linguistic mistake. In Thai, the word for robe and Buddha are the same, due in part to the robes Buddha is often seen wearing. Since this fellow is also depicted in robes, the mistake is an understandable one.
30. Dye Job
This Buddha tattoo is colorful in a way not often seen. The curls in his hair are shown as colorful circles. The colors chosen are subtle, not overly vibrant or bright.
This Buddha tattoo is interesting in that is depicts more of the idea of Buddhism than the actual Buddha himself. It also brings to mind the Da Vinci drawing of the Vitruvian man. Colors are used to highlight the different stages of the chi, uniting all within the body of the Buddha himself, finally one with understanding.
32. Buddha Belly
The placement of a Buddha tattoo can indicate a more feminine form of the Buddha. Here he is on the stomach/hip area. This Buddha is done in a very classic, traditional style. If you are a woman looking for tattoo ideas, you may find something to your liking here.
33. Small and Simple
Even just the outline of the Buddha is enough to remind us of our path. This simply lined design almost looks like a smoke image or something out of a magic lamp. The hand in raised in a typical Buddha pose and the only color is in the lotus flower being held by the sage.
It is perfectly fine to mix styles when considering a Buddha tattoo. This fella chose to do his Buddha in a puzzle pattern of hexagons. I think the honeycomb effect if really cool here, and they fit so much detail into each little shape. It all comes together so nicely.
35. Color Blocks
This Buddha tattoos is done is interesting color blocks and splashes. I am not sure whether I like it or not. The third eye in the palm is a bit creepy. The best part of this tattoo is the placement, for more awesome shoulder tattoos, go here.
Has it been said yet how much I adore the pointillist style? Has it? Well, I’ll say it again. I LOVE this style. The simplicity of bringing all these tiny dots together to form not only the face of the Buddha but also the wonderful lotus flower mandala behind him. It is simply amazing. I am definitely going to look into pointillism for my next tattoo project.
37. Buddha got Beats
This Buddha tattoo shows the enlightened one wearing headphones. Why? Because it is much easier to meditate with some awesome tunes going on, that’s why. Maybe he is listening to the serene sounds of the ocean or forest. Maybe he is a metal head. Who knows? I do like the rainbow color bands in this one and the mandala underneath. If you love music, check out these music note tattoos.
38. Feminise it
This lovely Buddha tattoo mixes the traditional Buddha with a paisley design. Even the incorporated mandala has a paisley look to it. This is a good way to adjust a tattoo and give it a bit more of a feminine look. This girl must really love paisley, check out those pants she’s rocking!
39. Head in the Clouds
It seems as though Buddha can be paired with nearly anything. Here Buddha is surrounded by swirling clouds. There is also some kind of writing on his cheeks, possibly something spoken in India from the looks of it. Cloud tattoos are rare but extremely beautiful and I love the Asian design of these.
40. Hand it to Him
Because Buddha uses different hand postures, it makes a certain amount of sense to place a Buddha tattoo on the hand. This is also true when you can add smaller designs on the fingers, much like the Henna designs in countries that worship Buddha. If you are not ready to commit to permanent tattoos yet, you can always look into Henna tattoos. For more behind the history and meaning of Henna, click here.
Buddha tattoo art and Buddha statues will often be depicted in this green color. This could either be caused by a patina on the statue, or the fact that the statue is carved from jade itself. The color goes very well with the rest of this dude’s sleeve. I love the look of the rippled waters. I find it interesting that the flowers are not colored in. It could be because this tattoo isn’t quite finished yet. If that’s the case, I’d love to see the finished product.
42. Peek a Buddha
This Buddha tattoo is absolutely my favorite of the bunch, despite being unfinished. I adore the shape of it, how it trails down the ribs and onto the hips. The image of Buddha only peeks into existence here, with a large lotus flower near his face. I would love to see it finished. Here is more info on the Buddha’s teachings.
43. Between the Blades
The shoulder blade area is a perfect place to put a meditating Buddha. He is seated here on his lotus in his protection posture. This particular Buddha is pictured with the halo around his head. I love how simple it is, with no color. For such a large piece, it is an incredibly beautiful one.
44. Geometric Mash-up
Sometimes a Buddha tattoo can get a little hard to understand. I am not real sure about the skull near the wrist on this one, but I love the look of Buddha, with the sun’s rays on his face. The symbol in flames is also pretty cool. I don’t know the meaning of that particular symbol, but the placement of it is pretty awesome. One of the best things about this one is the geometric patters near the Buddhas third eye and in the background.
45. Buddha at Peace
Buddha is iso often seen with his eyes closed that it is almost strange to see him with them open. It is often common practice in Buddha tattoo art to have very few colors, excluding he flowers. It makes for a cool look.
46. Under the Bodhi Tree
The Bodhi tree is meant to represent peace. For this reason, it is a perfect accompaniment to Buddha. This is the tree under which Buddha was meditating when Mara tried to distract him from his meditations.