The next part in our series of symbolism articles is about a specific topic; symbols of strength and perseverance around the world. Let us get right into it, here is the extensive list of strength symbols across cultures starting with the beautiful lotus flower and the East.
Eastern Symbols of Strength
Lotus Flower, A Buddhist Symbol of Strength and Perseverance
Being one of the most prominent and common ancient symbols, the lotus flower is a symbol of perseverance, resilience and strength among the followers of Buddhism.
Coming into existence in the murky underwater environment, this flower keeps growing under difficult conditions until it breaks the surface of the water.
Although there are many aquatic flowers, the lotus flower is the only one that can rise 12 inches above the water.
Its daily struggle to rise out of dark and muddy waters to reach the sunlight, which gives us just the perfect analogy for a Buddhist person’s struggle to reach enlightenment, is the reason the lotus flower is considered a symbol of courage, perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity.
The lotus flower was and still is an important symbol for many ancient and modern cultures and systems of faith including ancient Egyptians and people of Hindu faith.
So, if you would like to learn more about the lotus flower as a symbol, please kindly check out our extensive article here.
Dragons (China and East Asia)
Dragons are the most revered creatures in many Asian cultures, including Chinese and Japanese ones.
There are many different types of dragons in both these cultures representing different things. However, primarily, the image of a dragon symbolizes strength, good luck, and prosperity, as well as boldness, nobility, self-confidence, and success.
During the days of Imperial China, the emperor would use a dragon emblem as a symbol of his imperial strength and dominance.
According to legends, the Yellow Emperor, the first ruler of China has transformed into an immortal dragon that ascended to heaven after he died.
Take a closer look into our detailed article of the various Japanese Symbols of Strength and Wisdom.
Tigers, Chinese Symbols of Strength
Being an ancient Chinese symbol, the tiger represents strength, bravery, courage, and valor. By itself, the tiger also embodies the Yin energy. In addition to that, the animal is considered to be a symbol of protection.
The image of a tiger in homes or on clothing is said to ward off evil influence and ensure safety. The ancient Chinese believed that they could harness these powers in their lives by invoking the tiger.
Greek Symbols of Strength
Phoenix, The Mythical Firebird As A Symbol of Perseverance And Strength
As the mythical firebird that rises from the ashes, the phoenix is not just known as a symbol of rebirth and resurrection but also strength and perseverance all over the world.
While the exact origin of the legend of Phoenix is not known, it is mostly associated with Greek mythology. That said, there are historical accounts mentioning a bird god of rebirth named Bennu that ancient Egyptians believed in. Some people suggest that there might be a link between these two mythical creatures.
According to the belief, this legendary bird bursts into flames when it dies and is reborn from the ashes of that very fire.
Persevering through the literal trial of fire has made the Phoenix one of the most popular strength symbols across cultures around the world.
The phoenix was also used as a symbol of the perpetual strength and continuation of the Roman Empire.
Horses (Greece, Far East and North America)
Since ancient times, the horse has been a symbol of strength, speed, and intelligence. The animal was revered by the Indo-Aryan people and held sacred in ancient Greece as a symbol of strength, status, and wealth.
In China, the horse is the most ubiquitous symbolic animal after the dragon and represents male strength, perseverance, youthful energy, and speed. In earlier Chinese lore, the horse’s strength was believed to be even more potent than a dragon’s.
Similarly, Native American tribes held similar associations with this majestic animal.
The Club of Hercules
Although most Greek and Roman gods were known to use bows, arrows and spears, this was not the case with the legendary hero Hercules.
The demigod was known for his superhuman strength, which was a legacy of Zeus, his father, and the king of Olympus.
Hercules’s symbol was his wooden club crafted from the Tree of Life which was said to imbue any weapons made of it with the strength that was equal to the man who wielded that weapon.
Naturally, Hercules’s club had his legendary strength and was considered a strength symbol alongside the hero.
Celtic Symbols of Strength
Triskelion, A Symbol of Fortitude and Strong Will
The word “triskelion” is derived from the Greek word triskeles meaning ‘three legs’. There are a few variations of this symbol and it can be seen as three bent human legs, three running wheels or spirals.
Being one of the symbols of resilience and perseverance in Celtic culture, the triskele/triskelion represents the strong will and fortitude required to move forward in the face of adversities.
Additionally, it is used to symbolize the three realms, namely, the physical, spiritual, and celestial realms.
Other concepts of trinity represented by the triskelion are creation, protection and destruction, and life, death, and rebirth.
Celtic Dara Knot, The Symbol of The Sacred Oak Tree
The word “dara” is derived from the Irish word doire which translates into “wood.” The word was used in Celtic culture to refer to the oak tree, which was considered sacred by the Druids.
A symbol of strength, resistance, morale, and knowledge, the oak tree was one of the most beloved trees of the ancient Celts. The trees were known for enduring adverse conditions while their wood was used to make boats and houses because of its strength.
Oak trees can also live for over 300 years, making them living legends that embody centuries of wisdom in their towering bodies.
Ailm, Celtic Symbol of Resilience and Strength
The Ailm symbol is the sixteenth letter of the Ogham alphabet, an ancient form of writing that can be found on stones across Ireland.
Being a symbol that represent strength, Ailm also symbolizes endurance and resilience in Celtic culture. It also stands for purity and wholeness of the soul, indicating that this rune has very deep meanings.
The Ailm symbol is also closely linked with the silver fir tree, which was revered for surviving the harshest of adversities and to keep growing. This makes the Ailm one of the significant Celtic symbols of resilience and perseverance.
In addition, the silver fir tree also represents the healing of the soul.
Griffins are depicted with the body of a lion and the head and forelegs of an eagle. In the Celtic culture, a griffin was a symbol of strength and savagery and a fully-matured griffin could never be taken alive.
In heraldry, griffins were associated with boldness, courage, and strength and it was believed this mythical creature was always drawn to monsters. Hence, the griffin was used to denote strength, leadership, intelligence, and military courage.
Griffins were also believed to guard priceless treasures, just like dragons.
Norse Viking Symbols of Strength
Aegishjalmur, The Helm of Awe and Terror
The Helm of Awe, also known as the Ægishjálmr, is a Nordic symbol for strength and protection. The symbol is shaped like a circle with eight tridents radiating out from the center to protect it.
In ancient times, the symbol was used to strike fear in the hearts of the enemy. The ancient Vikings would draw the symbol between their brows with the belief that the symbol would grant them access to the spirit realm where they could harness the powers of their gods.
This was believed to give them the strength to fight and paralyze the enemy with fear by only using their eyes.
Mjölnir, The Hammer of Thor
Being one of the most powerful gods in Norse mythology, Thor was known as a great warrior. As a weapon, he carried a hammer with magical properties called Mjölnir which was believed to be so powerful that it could even destroy mountains.
Their warriors wore Mjölnir amulets or had the symbol tattooed on them to call upon the strength and protection of their mighty god, Thor, when they were fighting their enemies.
Today, Thor’s hammer is still one of the most popular Norse and Viking symbols, commonly used on items of jewelry and clothing.
Uruz Rune, A Norse Symbol of Physical Strength, Tenacity And Courage
The Elder Futhark rune called uruz is another symbol of strength and courage used by the Norse and Viking people. The word ‘uruz’ is derived from ‘aurochs’, European wild oxes that have become extinct in the 17th century.
It should be noted that, although it could be used to represent mental strength, the strength represented by uruz is more of a physical one. The symbol is also used to symbolize other physical qualities like endurance, stamina and tenacity as well as virility, fertility and courage.
Golden Eagles, Symbols of Strength In Near East and Europe
It is not surprising that the golden eagle is a symbol of strength, considering it is a massive bird of prey that does not have any natural predators.
Golden eagles are able to hunt and kill much larger animals than themselves, including deer, sheep, and even wolves.
Due to their fearsome nature, these birds represent strength, courage, fierceness, immortality, and military might across various cultures.
On an interesting side note, they are also viewed as the messenger of gods.
Middle Eastern and African Symbols of Strength
Hamsa, Middle Eastern and Jewish Symbol of Strength and Protection
The word “Hamsa” is derived from the Arabic word “khamsa” meaning ‘five’ and refers to the palm-shaped symbol that is popular across the Middle East.
The Hamsa, which is considered a holy symbol by Jewish people, is often drawn in a highly stylized way and may also include an evil eye in the middle of the palm. The Hand is often worn as a stylish jewelry piece in gold or silver like this one from Ka Gold below:
Believed to represent strength, protection from evil, and luck, the origins of the Hamsa symbol can be traced back to Mesopotamia, ancient Carthage, and Egypt.
Djed Pillar, AKA The Backbone of Osiris (Egyptian Mythology)
The Djed pillar was popularly known as a symbol of strength and stability in ancient Egyptian culture. It also represents immutability, fertility, resurrection, and eternal life.
The Djed pillar symbol inspired by the human spine is in the shape of a column and often has a broad or rectangular base that tapers to a smaller capital when it rises.
It is crossed by four parallel bars, though in some art and architecture pieces the symbol only consists of three bars.
This symbol is closely associated with Osiris, the god of the dead, resurrection, and the underworld in Egyptian mythology/ancient Egyptian religion, therefore, it is also known as “the backbone of Osiris”.
Scarab Beetle, Ancient Egyptian Symbol of Strength and Resilience
The next one in our list of symbols of perseverance and strength is another symbol from ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle.
As one of the most prominent and ubiquitous symbols of ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle represents strength, vitality, and fertility as well as longevity, resilience, immortality, transformation, and resurrection.
The scarab is the personification of the Egyptian sun god, Khepri, who was also associated with resurrection.
As such, the images and amulets of heart scarab and the large-winged scarab beetles were placed on the bodies of the deceased for protection against evil and good luck in the afterlife.
The Scarab Beetle is also a popular jewelry piece for those seeking a powerful symbol of the secret creation myth of ancient Egypt. This one from artist David Weitzman at Ka Gold is an exquisite example.
Pempamsie, Adinkra Symbol of Strength and Unity
Let us first define what “Adinkra” means on the off chance that you have not heard about it before. Adinkra are symbols from Ghana used to express principles, aphorisms and concepts.
From ritual objects and architecture to daily life items like jewelry, pottery and fabrics, Adinkra symbols are used on many things and in several different ways by Ghanaian people.
One of the most important symbols of the Akan people (living mostly in present-day Ghana and Ivory Coast) is the “pempamsie”. The word pempamsie can roughly be translated to English as “sew into readiness.”
This ancient symbol resembles links of a chain and represents strength through unity.
This can be interpreted as a community of humans is only as strong as their weakest link.
The pempamsie also represents steadfastness, hardiness and readiness highlighting the importance of always being prepared for anything.
Okodee Mmowere (Adinkra)
The next item on our list of strength and perseverance symbols is okodee mmowere, another Adinkra symbol.
The term “okodee mmowere” is translated into English as “the talons of the eagle” and used to define the Adinkra symbol for courage and strength.
Just like in Europe and Near East, the eagle is believed to be the strongest bird in the sky by the Akans. For the Akan people, the strength of the eagle was concentrated in its talons.
Hence, this symbol closely associated with the bird of prey is used to represent strength, bravery, and unity.
Tabono, An Akan/West African/Adinkra Symbol That Represents Strength
Tabono is an Adinkra symbol that is shaped like four joined paddles or oars. The word tabono means ‘paddle’ and ‘oar’ in Adinkra language and taboono is just another prominent symbol of the West African people representing, unity, strength, hard work, and persistence.
In the case of tabono, strength does not mean physical power, but rather a person’s willpower and emotional fortitude.
The symbol represents the idea that one can only hope to achieve great success if they have a strong will, work hard, and are willing to make sacrifices.
Native American Symbols of Strength
For Native American tribes, the bear represents strength, health, vitality, courage, and family. It was considered to be independent and not reliant on many things. It also has a strong will and endurance.
Hence, the symbol of the bear was held in high regard in Native American communities as it provided great comfort and strength to those who required personal reassurance and who lived alone for extended periods.
Wolves As Native American Strength Symbols
Although the wolf is often associated with certain negative attributes in certain parts of the world, in the New World, this animal was linked with strength, courage, loyalty, intelligence, and hunting success.
Some Native American tribes considered the wolf a strong animal and believed that it created the Earth and was the first creature that experienced death.
According to them, out of all the animals that live on land, the wolf harnesses the strongest mystical powers and is the most gifted hunter.
It is also a social animal and can use its body movement, sound, and touch to communicate.
B’alam (Mesoamerican and Mayan Cultures)
The word ‘B’alam’ was used to describe a jaguar in Mayan culture. The Mayans believed that the animal was the personification of the god of the underworld and controlled the celestial forces of night and day.
Representing ferocity, divinity, confidence, and leadership, the jaguar was the ultimate sacred symbol of strength in Mesoamerican cultures.
During the later periods of Mayan history, many of the monarchs held the name B’alam, as the jaguar came to represent royalty as well.
On a side note, the animal was known to represent strength among the Aztec tribes, too.
Symbols of Strength, Perseverance and Resilience Tattoo Meaning and Ideas
There are a lot of amazing symbols that represent strength, perseverance and resilience. So, it will be hard to choose only one to have it inked. But, we are here to help.
As a feminine strength tattoo, the lotus flower would surely be the perfect choice for you as tattoo designs with lotus flowers look really nice. While you are at it, you might want to add a unalome to the mix, too. It is, indeed, quite a popular choice, the unalome lotus tattoos.
Dragons will also look good as a strength tattoo, especially if you are of Asian origin as dragons are revered mythical creatures in Asia.
While looking nice on just about anybody, tigers are more of a masculine tattoo choice, and better to be used to represent “physical” strength.
A phoenix tattoo, which ends up usually with really good-looking designs, would be a great choice for a perseverance tattoo. The mythical bird is just the perfect symbol of perseverance and resilience as it is believed to resurrect and come back to life rising from its ashed every time it dies.
If you are of Celtic origin, the endless Dara knot, the Celtic symbol of resilience should be your tattoo of choice.
Mental strength is represented by Aegishjalmur, the helm of awe, in Norse faith. So, if you are looking for a Norse Viking strength tattoo, then the helm of awe is a good choice here. A more minimalistic choice for a Norse tattoo would be the uruz rune which represents bravery and physical strength.
As a Middle Eastern symbol of mental strength and protection, the Hamsa hand is a really nice choice for just about anyone and along with the evil eye, it is used quite commonly on tattoo designs, especially by spiritual people who are involved with meditation and yoga.
If you are of Egyptian origins, the scarab beetle, the ancient Egyptian symbol of perseverance could be a nice choice here for you.
In Native American culture, both bears and wolves are animals that represent strength. While both of these animals could be decent choices, wolf tattoos are much more popular among tattoo lovers.