Dragon Tattoo Ideas, History, and Meaning: Chinese and Japanese Designs

Dragon Tattoo Ideas
Dragon Tattoo Ideas | Source

The Dragon Tattoo

The dragon is a popular and powerful design worn by both women and men, and although it can be designed in various sizes, the detailing and shading involved in most depictions often make this tattoo a larger-sized project. Some of the attributes and traits associated with the dragon are strength, courage, and independence.

In this article, we will discuss designs and review meanings of the dragon tattoo, and you will have the opportunity to view a wide variety of photographs. We hope that you are able to find ideas and inspiration for your next tattoo.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

Dragon Tattoos in History

Dragons are one of the most legendary creatures in the history of mythology and folklore. Dragons are a part of the historic culture of China, Japan, Vietnam, and many other countries. According to most Eastern civilizations, dragons were noble creatures with distinct honors and powers, while in the mythologies of European civilizations, they were usually considered evil and dark.

The symbolism of dragon tattoos cover a wide range of meanings. One civilization may consider dragons a symbol of strength and wisdom, while another may consider them to be greedy and a bad omen. The Chinese (representing wisdom, good luck, and goodwill), Japanese (representing balance), and Celtic dragon styles (often shown with crowns and thrones depicting power and strength) are among the most popular.

The Eastern dragon is seen as a noble beast which offers wisdom and protection while in ancient Western culture, it represents a much darker and more threatening creature. However, both are usually depicted as a very intelligent creature free to roam wherever it wishes. Thus, the dragon tattoo can also depict the freedom of your soul or life.

The dragon symbolizes protection, power, and wisdom. Its fearsome and warlike qualities make it a wonderful ally or a fierce enemy. Most people have heard stories about the knight slaying the dragon and winning the love of the princess. Among many ancient cultures, slaying the dragon is one of the highest honors a person can achieve. Think of the stories of St. George or Beowulf, although in both, the dragon might also represent pre-Christian thought.

One of the great features about the dragon is that it can be done in a variety of different styles, realistic or abstract, cartoonish or dramatic. Many are done in solid ink and follow the tribal style of tattooing. Even so, we are seeing more and more colored tribal tattoos today. Whether you choose solid black ink or color, the dragon tattoo gives a wide range of options to consider when designing your dragon tattoo.

The dragon's shape can be manipulated to fit in a wide variety of different locations on the body, although its most popular placement is on or near the shoulder. Among the Chinese, it is not unusual to see full body tattoos which incorporate other symbols. At one time in history, members of the Chinese mafia wore these full body tattoos which became synonymous with criminal conduct and were looked down upon as well as illegal. Nowadays, this criminal association is no longer common.

The number nine is a very special number to the Chinese. It is the largest single digit and associated with the dragon. A "nine dragon wall" is a barrier that is often found around imperial Chinese palaces and gardens. Only the most senior officials are allowed to wear the nine dragons on their robes, while other lower-ranking officers wear eight or fewer.

Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
In this Chinese tattoo, the colors are extraordinary and brilliant. The sun can also be seen at top. As I mentioned before, the number nine is very important to the Chinese culture. A good example on how the dragon design can be mixed with the Celtic art style. This tattoo doesn't portray the entire dragon, just its eye.
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
In this Chinese tattoo, the colors are extraordinary and brilliant. The sun can also be seen at top. As I mentioned before, the number nine is very important to the Chinese culture.
In this Chinese tattoo, the colors are extraordinary and brilliant. The sun can also be seen at top. As I mentioned before, the number nine is very important to the Chinese culture. | Source
A good example on how the dragon design can be mixed with the Celtic art style. This tattoo doesn't portray the entire dragon, just its eye.
A good example on how the dragon design can be mixed with the Celtic art style. This tattoo doesn't portray the entire dragon, just its eye. | Source

Chinese and Japanese Dragon Types and Meanings

The Asian dragon is one of the most popular mythological creatures picked for tattoo designs. They are a variety of different styles to chose from: winged and wingless, with snake-like features such as scales or cartoonish versions, with or without whiskers or horns. The dragon is believed to have the ability to multiply anything that it touches. They can be associated with the heavens or the sea. Japanese dragons are usually slender and wingless and have just three claws, while the Chinese or "celestial kingdom" types have five claws and beards of flames.

The Asian dragon represents balance. For the Chinese, the dragon represents one half of the yin and yang; the phoenix represents the other half. The Chinese believe in finding a perfect balance of yin and yang, and dragons might also symbolize the perfect mixture of good and evil. The colorful Japanese dragon, part of their cultural mythology for hundreds of years, represents balance, freedom, and good luck. It also is known to have supernatural powers and wisdom.

Many people choose a dragon to represent balance in their life. It is thought that balance is crucial for success.

  • Chinese Dragons symbolize power, strength, and fear.
  • Horned Dragons are known as the top dragons, strongest of all.
  • Celestial Dragons are protectors of the Gods and heavens.
  • Earth Dragons, also found in Chinese astrology, are the kind that rule the earth.
  • Yellow Dragons are hornless and known for their knowledge.
  • Treasure Dragons are the protectors of precious gems and other valuable earthly elements.
  • Spiritual Dragons are in total control of the wind and rain.
  • Coiling Dragons are the ones that live in the oceans.

There are six dragons in the Japanese culture. Here are their names and meanings:

  • Han-Riu, with stripes all over its body, is one of the biggest dragons with lengths up to forty feet.
  • Kai-Riu, a beautiful red-colored dragon, is usually smaller than the others.
  • Sue-Riu, the king of all dragons, is in control of rain.
  • Ri-Riu is known to be a very rare breed and hard to find. Little is known about it, but it does have amazing eyesight.
  • Hai-Riyo, known as a dragon bird, is one of the most advanced forms of dragons. It evolved out of Chinese mythology.
  • Fuku Riu is the most favored dragon of all, known for good luck.

You may or may not have known, but the colors to the dragon also have meanings. Certain colors represent certain attributes.

  • Black means that the parents are old and wise.
  • Green is usually associated with smaller dragons. It also represents life and earth.
  • Blue is associated with those from the West and represents laziness, compassion, and forgiveness.
  • Yellow is associated with those from the East and those who are self-centered and helpful.
  • Gold has great attributes, such as wisdom, kindness, and helpfulness.

Although certain colors and dragons have certain symbolic meanings, many are chosen just for their design. Either way, the Asian dragon makes a great tattoo for anyone and can be mixed with other styles, such as Celtic art and tribal designs.

Part ouroborus, part dragon.
Part ouroborus, part dragon. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

Before You Tattoo

  • Make sure you take the time to decide carefully on a tattoo and style. Remember that you will likely have this tattoo for the rest of your life. Many tattoos cannot be erased with a laser or other means, so you want to make sure you're completely sure before you get a tattoo. Never get a tattoo on an impulse!
  • You also want to research your tattoo artist as well. If they are legit, they will have no problem showing you their past work and current designs. Ask other customers about their work and do online research if possible.
  • Remember, you'll have this tattoo for the rest of your life. The location of your tattoo is also important. If work with people, you may want to choose an area that can be covered if need be.
  • The most important thing is to get one that you really, really want. Be sure to check out the other articles in the links below.

More by this Author


Comments 36 comments

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Love those crazy tattoos. Especially the various colors and those dragons are great. Super interesting hub.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Gypsy, thanks for coming by to check it out. I surely do appreciate your time and comment:) Have a good one.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Hi thelyricwriter,

Thank you so much for sharing this one, I love it.

For the past two years or so I have been meaning to get a tattoo but just haven't got round to it.

Maybe this great hub will motivate me.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Take care and I wish you a wonderful day.

Eddy.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Eddy, thanks for coming by to read this article and good morning. I remember you saying that. I believe, if you really want it, go for it. Hopefully you will find that motivation to get one. I know life can keep a person busy year round. Once again thanks and best wishes.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Wow....this was beautiful art for me. Thank you very much for share with us. We need a tattoo expert to make beautiful dragon picture like this one. Rated up!

Prasetio


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I have no desire for a tattoo now, at one time i wanted a tiny rose on the ankle, just never had the courage to do it, but they are beautiful, such vivid colors. Thank you. Very interesting the history of tattooing..


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Prasetio, thanks for coming by and for adding a comment. I am glad you enjoyed it my friend. Thanks for the votes as well. The dragon has many different meanings and I find it interesting how it is looked at by all these different cultures and in the tattoo world.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

AE, thank you for your comment and time my friend. Some of these tattoos are very colorful and cover much of the body. It is remarkable work done by the tattoo artists that perform these tattoos. I am glad you enjoyed the history part of it. Best wishes.


ladyhowto4u profile image

ladyhowto4u 4 years ago

Tatoos are an interesting topic. If they were easily removed, I think I may consider getting one -- but it would have to be a tiny one. Thanks for sharing this information on tatoos.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Ladyhowto4u, thanks for dropping in to check it out and I am glad you find them interesting. Many people don't realize the meaning behind them and the artistic perspective they give. Once I began studying them, I found a whole new level of respect for them and tattoo artist that stay true to their symbolic roots. Glad you enjoyed them. Best wishes.


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 4 years ago from close to you...

Those are fierce tattoos. Might want to have henna.. :)


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Ricky, you have written some fabulous hubs on tattoos, but these dragons have to be my favourite!

I hope all is well with you, voting up my friend and take care MM


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

What beautiful designs. I voted this UP,etc.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Blaise, thank you so much for taking the time to overlook and read this article. I appreciate your comment very much. Good point as well. I will have to add it.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

MM, thanks for coming by to check it out. I really like these designs and many people don't realize the meaning behind them. I find that interesting. Seems like most things in life have purpose. I appreciate your time, comment, and votes. See you soon.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Mary, thanks for taking the time to comment and vote. I really appreciate it dear. Take care and see you soon.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

Some of these tattoos were totally outstanding. I really do like dragons. The colors were really nicely done also. But I did like the simplisticness of the Celtic tattoo also. Voting up!


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden

I love the fantastic design in these tattoos, it is great art! The history and information about different dragons make this hub complete and so useful for everyone who want to get a dragon tattoo. Voted up,

Tina


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi lyricwriter

It was very interesting to learn about the various dragons and their significance.

Voted up and awesome.

Enjoy your day.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Homesteadbound, thanks for coming by and for your comment and vote as well. I also like these dragons tattoos. I never knew they had such symbolic meanings as they do. I hope all is well and your enjoying the holidays. Best wishes and take care.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Tina, thanks for taking the time to come by and read this article. I am glad you thought highly of it. I appreciate you noticing the hard work. Best wishes and take care. See you around.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Sueswan, thanks for coming by and for your time, comment, and votes. I am glad you were able to take something away from it. Enjoy your day as well:)


beijing driver profile image

beijing driver 4 years ago from Beijing, China

Extraordinary Chinese Dragon

Dragon,the dragon is the symbol of the Chinese people


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Beijing driver, thanks for stopping by to read the article. Feel free to comeback anytime. Take care.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Very interesting hub. My son loves dragons I'm gonna shoe him all the amazIng pics you have here! Thanks for sharing.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Kelley, thanks for coming by. It would be my pleasure. Your visit is always appreciated. Take care.


angie ashbourne profile image

angie ashbourne 4 years ago

Hi! Interesting hub, awesome pics. Angie


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Angie, thanks for taking the time to read this article. Glad you liked it. Thanks for your time and comment. Take care.


Jeannie in MD 4 years ago

Is this article available for reprint?


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Jeannie, it depends what you mean by reprint. If it is to print for personal use, I see no issue. That is using for teaching or tattoo ideas. Being published somewhere else or copied for personal gain, strickly prohibited. This article and all articles of "thelyricwriter" are the property of Hubpages.


Peter Geekie profile image

Peter Geekie 4 years ago from Sittingbourne

Dear thelyricwriter,

Thank you for a very well researched and informative article. I have a black dragon tattoo on my shoulder from my Royal Navy days and I never did know what it symbolised.

Kind regards Peter


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia Author

Peter, thanks for taking the time to read this article. I am glad you found it useful and informative. The famous black dragon:) Thanks again and take care.


Jennifer Stone profile image

Jennifer Stone 4 years ago from the Riverbank, England

I love these, and I'm really glad you have written how important it is to research the tattoo you want and the tattoo artist! I got my dragon 20 years ago and I still love it! I have also spent the last 20 years pondering on getting another, but have never found anything I really wanted... maybe your hubs could help me! :-) All the best, Jen


jakimaye 2 years ago

I am getting a Chinese dragon tattoo on my forearm. I chased that china white dragon in the sixties, he caught me 40 years later. After 54 weeks of interferon and ribavirin, I slayed that same dragon. I need a reliable source for the Chinese symbol for dragon warrior. I have found my dragon, but am scared of getting a symbol that eventually turns out to mean Chinese take-out. I found your article helpful for coloring and hope you may have some direction for me.


Rossy 21 months ago

Very interesting. Thank you.I'm still thinking. But now I have the meanings.


Katrina Ariel profile image

Katrina Ariel 10 months ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

I love dragons, and I have to say that some of the most interesting tattoos I've seen are of this mythical creature. Great hub.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    thelyricwriter profile image

    Richard Ricky Hale (thelyricwriter)704 Followers
    475 Articles

    Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings and history.



    Click to Rate This Article
    working