Dragon tattoo by artist brett hayes

Dragon Tattoo

Dragons are creatures that have played an important part in Asian culture for almost 4000 years. Legends and religion gave the mythical creature its icon status. It is said that the dragons are guardians of the sky. It is also a symbol of spring, which is a celebration of a new year and new beginnings. Its significance in Asian culture has made it an icon even in the tattoo industry. Dragon tattoos have crossed over from Asia to different parts of the world. Dragon tattoo symbolizes mysticism, strength, prosperity, transformation and courage. There are many different dragon tattoo designs but here are some of the most iconic renderings: 

Table of Contents

Red Dragon Tattoo

The red dragon tattoo is a popular rendition of a dragon tattoo, especially for ladies. This holds an equal charm to black dragon tattoos for most men. It symbolizes being fierce and fearless. This is a popular tattoo design for women because it adds mystery and sensuality to their character. In Asian culture, the red dragon tattoo is a symbol of luck and good fortune. Red dragon tattoos are often seen impressively inked at the back, arms and calf of both men and women.

Red Dragon back piece
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Japanese Dragon Tattoo

In Japanese culture, dragons offer protection to humans and are a symbol of strength and courage. They also symbolize generosity and wisdom. There are different forms of a Japanese dragon or “Ryu”. Sui-ryu controls organic forces, Han-ryu is the striped dragon, Ri-ryu has remarkable eyesight, Ka-ryu which is the brilliant red dragon, Fuku-ryu symbolizes good luck and Hai-ryu the dragon bird. Amongst the 6 dragon forms, the Fuku-ryu is the most commonly seen on Japanese tattoo design. The most common characteristic of a Japanese dragon is its three-toed claws. Japan being an archipelago, the Japanese dragon is often portrayed as a sea serpent.

Japanese Dragon back tattoo
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Chinese Dragon Tattoo

A dragon in the Chinese culture with the phoenix represents the Yin and Yang – the balance of good and evil. In contrast to Western belief that dragons are dark and evil, Chinese sees these mythical creatures as kind, benevolent and full of wisdom. Chinese dragons have claws with 5 toes and are often represented in snake form. Chinese dragon tattoos are often inked with clouds to symbolize flight.

Chinese Dragon tattoo on arm
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Small Dragon Tattoo

If you are not one to fancy huge and prominent dragon tattoos, then small dragon tattoos are perfect for you. Although most small dragon tattoos do not have the mystic of a Chinese or Japanese dragon tattoo, they also hold special meanings. Small dragons are often inked on the wrist, ankle and nape of women. These cute and simple tattoos symbolize wit, wisdom and inner peace. Small dragon tattoos are often silhouettes of a dragon or a dragon in flight with its wings spread out.

Small Dragon tattoo on ankle
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Dragon Tattoo for Female

There are many different dragon tattoo designs that fit a female’s personality. Red dragon tattoo symbolizes fierceness, passion and sensuality. A black dragon tattoo on a woman can symbolize fearlessness, rage and courage. For women who do not want to go big, a small dragon tattoo on the wrist or the nape can be an option. Other styles of this tattoo can be tribal, colorful dragon tattoos or combined with flowers and paired with a phoenix.

Dragon Tattoo for Female
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DRAGON TATTOO BY AUSTRALIAN ARTIST

The majestic Asian icon has also captured the attention of the whole world. The tattoo that has originated from Asia has transcended different cultures and is making its way around the world. Australian tattoo artists are making their own rendition of this iconic creature.   

FAQ

What does a dragon tattoo symbolize?

In Asian culture, a dragon tattoo often symbolizes physical and mental strength, benevolence, protection and generosity. 

Is it bad to get a dragon tattoo?

In Western culture, a dragon symbolizes evil and darkness. But in Asian culture, dragon tattoos mean kindness, courage, protection and generosity. Getting a dragon tattoo is not bad as long as it holds a positive meaning.

What does a dragon tattoo mean for a man?

For most males, a dragon tattoo often symbolizes courage, strength and masculinity.

Are dragon tattoos unlucky?

In Asian culture, dragons symbolize spring – the beginning of a new year and new life. They bring good luck and prosperity.

What is the difference between a Japanese dragon tattoo and a Chinese dragon tattoo?

Although these two styles are very similar, there are a few distinct differences. A Japanese dragon has 3 claws on its toes whilst a Chinese dragon has 5 claws on its toes. A Japanese dragon is often represented as a sea serpent while a Chinese dragon is a snake. 

CONCLUSION

Dragon tattoos have come a long way. From the mythical creature in Asian culture, now it has become a universal symbol of strength, masculinity and courage. There are many different interpretations of a dragon tattoo, some are good and some are dark. Before getting a dragon tattoo, be sure to read and research the very rich cultural meaning. More than just a tattoo, a dragon represents rich culture and tradition.

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