The History + Meaning of the Lotus Flower
“Just like the lotus we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world.” – Unknown
The lotus flower has an otherworldly beauty that has the ability to transfix us. Its translucent petals seem lit from within, and it rises from murky waters to emerge untouched by any hint of the mud they’re rooted in. Small wonder that the lotus is often seen as a symbol of purity.
Lotus Flower Facts
When people think of the lotus flower, they often think of a variety of ancient cultures, including Egyptian and Chinese history. In fact, for centuries, the lotus flower has been central to a number of beliefs and religions.
If there were a timeless flower, it would be the lotus. There are lotus seeds in existence today that have been germinating for over ten centuries. An aquatic plant, these water beauties can expand up to ten feet horizontally. The lotus can grow anywhere from about three to six feet or higher with leaves that can span a foot or more.
And, even though the lotus grows from the mud, its fragrance is like the flower – sweet, delicate, and floral. The color of their petals can range from purest white to understated cream tones to vibrant jewel colors.
The lotus has a unique cycle, opening with the rising sun and closing its petals as the sun sets, submerging itself under the water to emerge clean and “reborn” each morning. But, what may even be more remarkable about this flower is its durability. Its seeds are able to create new plants even after thousands of years and the plants themselves can survive under many harsh climatic conditions such as being submerged under ice or blooming under extreme heat. While they prefer certain soils, these seemingly delicate flowers can thrive under a number of soil conditions. And, once mature, the lotus plant can live a long time with some species approaching the century mark.
Lotus Flower History
Evidence of lotus flowers goes back to the Ice Age, a time when most plants on the earth became extinct. But the lotus survived to become part of the ecosystem in almost every part of the world, from Russia to Australia. We know the flower played a part in many ancient cultures, including ancient Egypt and Greece.
Lotus flowers are featured in the oldest hieroglyphics, antique Chinese ceramics, and Hindu stories where gods emerge from these flowers. Today, the lotus is considered the national flower for Vietnam and India, continuing its importance into modern times.
Lotus Flower Symbolism in Religion
Lotus flowers have meaning in several religions in addition to Hinduism and Buddhism. In both religions, the lotus flower is a representation of the womb of the universe – where all things are born. These flowers are also a symbol for overcoming adversity and retaining purity of spirit through life’s challenges, as lotus flowers are most commonly found in swampy, difficult terrain – emerging from the dark, murky water pristine and beautiful.
For Buddhists specifically, this flower also represents a connection between the universe’s soul and their own. Yet Hindus have special connection with lotus flower symbolism, as well, because in Sanskrit, it’s the character for enlightenment.
Different Lotus Flower Colors + Their Meaning
There are several varieties of lotus flowers, and each color has a different meaning:
- White Lotus Flower Meaning: The white flower signifies beauty, grace, purity, and wealth among others. In feng shui, the white lotus is associated with purity and transcendence, as it has the ability to "cut through" obstacles and untangle negative energy.
- Pink Lotus Meaning: Pink is associated with Buddha and in Hindu imagery, pink-tipped petals symbolize delicate, feminine energy.
- Red Lotus Meaning: The red lotus in Buddhism represents the fire energy of one of the five main Buddha families known as the Padma. This energy is all about passion and inspiration.
- Blue Lotus Flower Meaning: One of the rarer flower varieties, blue lotuses are a symbol for Mahayana Buddhists that reminds them to focus on their innate, Buddha-like characteristics, which can help them blossom into Nirvana.
Floral Symbols at ALEX AND ANI
The lotus flower is just one of many of the timeless floral symbols in our Alex + Ani collections. Explore our flower collection to see our unique designs from the lotus to sunflowers and daisies, and more!