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  • Writer's pictureMandira Antar

Tattoo symbols/Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum) flower

Updated: Dec 14, 2017

Writing about flowers as a tattoo choice is a vast subject and every blog about tattoos has a wide range of articles on that! There are some flowers though that have uniqueness, beauty and humbleness which make them so interesting to get a closer look at... Not to mention it is a rare tattoo choice!!! And we love those.

Sea daffodil or pancratium maritimum (other vernacular names are sand daffodil, sand lily and lily of St. Nicholas-source wikipedia) is a small wild flower that grows near many Mediterranean and around the Black sea beaches. In Greece it is also called Virgin Mary's Lily because it blossoms in 15th of August, one of the biggest religious celebrations in Greece (the day of the Dormition of Virgin Mary. On the Greek Orthodox calendar this date marks the moment when Mary, Christ’s mother, ascended into Heaven).

It grows in the sand, a characteristic that from the first moment makes this sense, raises this question... how can that be? So small yet so strong and resilient!

It belongs in the general family of Narcissus and Amaryllidaceae. This is why it is often confused with narcissus or daffodils but this is a different flower that has survived for thousand years. The most significant difference is that sand lily is always white in colour, it is wild and does not survive a cut. If you cut it, it will die. So it is meant to decorate nature and not our homes.

For Ancient Greeks (Minoans) it was a sacred flower and is was used in wall painting decoration. This blue bird with sea lilies is the first wall painting that was discovered in Knossos palace in Crete during excavations. It was also a part of wall frescoes in Akrotiri of Santorini excavations.

The name pancratium originates from the ancient greek word παγκράτιον (pankrátion) a complete contest, from all-powerful / all strength. If you are not familiar with it, there is an athletic contest involving both boxing and wrestling that is called pancratium and that is no coincidence.

This flower is said to be used in male initiations and religious ceremonies in the ancient Greece. It is also a herb with medicinal properties described by Dioscorides and Theophrastos but somewhat poisonous in the same time! Nowadays some studies show that the plant might be a source of anti-Alzheimer’s agents...

Pancratium Maritimum has an important value in the African shamanism. Indeed, the African shamans rub the roots of the plant on their heads, in order to benefit from its cardiotonic and hallucinogenic effects.

Tattoo meaning

It is interesting that searching the web for tattoos, it was impossible to find tattoo examples for this beautiful little flower. It's humbleness makes it so unique and interesting... I recommend it to anyone that wants a rare flower and not the usual daffodil, narcissus or lily flowers that are incredible but common.

So what is the symbolism of this tattoo? The sand lily is always a lily, and lilies have a wonderful spiritual meaning. They stand for purity and beauty, femininity, religiousness, faith, creativity, elegance, pure love! They are also related to narcissus and the qualities of youth, vitality, self-love.

But from my point of view, sea daffodil is a perennial flower, meaning that it will live dormant in periods when there’s nothing to gain from the weather, protecting itself and growing active and out of the sand again when the sun is up.

It is always white, it is wild and most of all it is strong. Furthermore it has a strong connection to the sun... you will never find a sea daffodil growing under the shade.

This flower is the ultimate symbol of pure feminine energy which is soft and patient whenever it is needed but strong and resilient when the circumstances demand it! It seems like it's whiteness comes from absorbing the light and warmth of the sun.

You can wear it in any position of your body, back, hand, legs, neck, arm... alone or as an additional element to a bouquet or combined to other symbols that enhance it's qualities. It's white colour gives a great opportunity for b&w work, very artistic and challenging to illustrate.

Check out my tattoo page and message me for a custom design that we co-create with love and enthusiasm!


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