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Tattoo Ideas: Dragons

Updated on July 27, 2007

Dragons are a very popular choice of tattoo design. The word "dragon" comes from the Greek drakon, meaning a serpent with a gaze like lightning. The dragon is an important symbol in Chinese culture, seen as a powerful protector and ally. In Western mythology, dragons are typically viewed as fierce, menacing, dangerous creatures who pose a threat to mankind; they are still protectors, but they tend to protect a highly coveted person or thing from the pure-hearted knight who is trying to obtain it (think the dragon that keeps Princess Fiona locked up in the tower in the movie "Shrek".) In European folklore, the dragon is a fire-breathing creature that should be feared.

In Asia, however, all different types of dragons are revered and respected. The Horned Dragon is the mightiest of all dragons, while the Yellow Dragon, which does not have horns, is renowned for it's knowledge and wisdom. Like most objects in East Asian culture, dragons are closely tied to each of the four elements. The Celestial Dragon rules the heavens and keeps the Gods safe, whereas the Earth Dragon rules the world and keeps it safe. The Coiling Dragon is a form of sea serpent that lives in the ocean and can control the rain, the tide, and thus the lunar cycles governing eclipses. Contrary to popular depiction, not all dragons have wings. Only the Winged Dragon has them along with the ability to fly.

The legend behind the dragon is that it comes from high atop the Japanese mountains or dwells in the deepest parts of the Pacific ocean. They are intelligent, evolved, and very wise beings who are usually depicted in drawings, paintings and tattoos as being graceful and free, wrapping beautifully around the contours of the body. Other dragons are tattooed as fierce, fiery creatures that wind serpent-like around the entire length of an arm or a leg. Medieval dragons are usually inked as long, lizard-like beings complete with spiked tails and wings. They may have talons, scales, fangs or dangerous red eyes. However, there is a new design emerging that tattoos dragons in an abstract, or tribal, style. Red dragons, celtic dragons, even cartoonish dragons are showing up more and more in body modification.

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      10 years ago from Arizona



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