The dragon tattoo is one of the most popular selections for tattoo enthusiasts around the world. It has numerous designs with different colours, accents, dimensions and placements. Although most people don’t give it much thought, the tattoo is more than a piece of art. Dragon tattoos have a long history and deep meaning.
Depictions of dragons can be found in ancient literature and art dating back to the Mesopotamian era. However, Chinese culture had the most substantial influence on the spread of dragon art pieces across Asia and western civilisation.
Among the Chinese, dragons are depicted as serpent-like creatures and often lack wings. Additionally, they have four or five-legged limbs with flaming beards. The creatures’ ability to fly is mystical, and it symbolises good fortune, goodwill, and wisdom.
The Chinese believe dragons can overcome any obstacle to seeing success. The creature is determined, enthusiastic and confident. Moreover, dragons are considered symbols of wealth and royalty. Ancient emperors, like Liu Bang, were believed to be reincarnations of dragons. In the Tang Dynasty, only the emperor and high officials wore robes with depictions of dragons. The emperor himself only wore a few dragons.
Dragons are celebrated in China and are a feature of the Chinese new year and boat racing festival. Furthermore, tattoo artists also get numerous requests for dragon tattoos. Most clients get tattoos as a symbol of strength, power and good luck.
On the other hand, the Japanese display dragons as sea creatures. This has something to do with the fact that Japan is a collection of islands. Dragons are known as Ryu, and they are often given specific names; Sui-Ryu, Han-Ryu. Ri-ryu, Fuku-ryu and Hai-ryu. Each dragon has its meaning; for example, Ri has an exceptional vision while Sui is the king of dragons.
The colour of the dragon also has meaning. Green represents nature and life, while gold is associated with kindness and wisdom. The blue dragon is often related to astrological symbols (Leo, Aries and Sagittarius) and black dragons symbolise age and wisdom.
Owing to the tattoo culture in Japan, the dragon tattoo is widely sought after. It’s often done as a sleeve, chest, leg or back tattoo. Moreover, the design options are numerous, ranging from line-work tattoos to full-colour dragon tattoos. In addition, the tattoos can feature other Japanese accents like flower tattoos.
In the West, dragons are depicted as monstrous creatures with enormous wings and the unique ability to breathe fire. They are often the protagonist in any folktale and represent an enemy to be defeated. Western religions also influenced the expression of the dragon as a symbol. For example, the creature was viewed as an evil creature among early Christians.
However, there are cultures in the West that still revere dragons. Among the Celtics, the dragon was one of the most potent symbols. The creature was known as the guardian of the world and everything that lives in it. The symbol was used among leaders to allude to their power and wisdom.
Dragon tattoos in the West are often a mark of a conqueror or a strong individual. Since dragons are depicted as monstrous creatures, most enthusiasts tattoo their dragon on extensive skin surfaces like the back and chest.
Globalisation has led to a lot of cultural interaction, and dragon tattoos have acquired new personal meanings. For most people who get dragon tattoos, theirs is to enjoy the freedom of expression. Most of the pieces bear personal purposes that are no longer defined by ancient cultures. Nonetheless, the intricacies of the design pay homage to the ancient myths associated with the serpent-like creature.