Chinese tattoos are trendy for people all over the world. Chinese tattoos are a symbol of heritage for some people, and for others, they are beautiful designs that symbolize something for them. No matter why you have chosen a Chinese tattoo, it is fun to know the history behind the tattoo designs and their history.
- 1 History of Chinese Tattoos
- 2 Types of Chinese Tattoos
- 3 Placement of Chinese Tattoos
- 4 Celebrities with Chinese Body Art
- 5 Chinese Tattoo Designs and Ideas
History of Chinese Tattoos
For thousands of years now, tattooing has been seen in China. In China, tattoos are known as Ci Shen. Its literal English translation is to make punctures in the body. However, in China, tattoos were not embraced and relatively uncommon. It is because the Chinese people saw tattooing as bodily defamation and a highly undesirable practice. Chinese tattoos were often used as a mark on criminals to show that they were unwelcome.
Even in modern-day, China tattoos have quite a stigma. They are often affiliated with crime and criminals. Even though the mainstream groups in China have no real tradition with tattooing, many minority groups have strong tattooing roots. The tribes of Dai and Drung and those from Hainan Island are prideful about their history with tattooing.
In the Western world, Chinese tattoos are prevalent, especially Chinese characters. Since tattooing was never popular in China, this popularity has nothing to do with tradition and more to do with the beauty of the art associated with this beautiful country. However, since many people there do not have the slightest idea of what the characters mean, there is a danger of getting something undesirable put on their bodies. So, if you are considering getting any Chinese writing tattooed on your body, maybe you should do some research on each character or symbol to ensure that what you are getting is what you think it is.
Types of Chinese Tattoos
You already know that Chinese characters and symbols are popular for Chinese tattoo designs, but many other symbols represent the Chinese culture, even if their people do not wish to get them on their bodies.
Aside from characters, the Chinese astrology is also prevalent in Chinese tattoo designs. There are twelve Chinese signs: the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the chicken, the dog, the pig, the rat, and the cow. You can choose your birth sign and add the month of your birth in Chinese characters under it for extra added effect.
If you like astrology and prefer a more traditional zodiac symbol (Aries, Pisces, Leo, Virgo, etc.), get these with Chinese characters.
Dragons are also popular in Western culture as a symbol in Chinese tattoos.
Placement of Chinese Tattoos
Depending on the design of your tattoo, the placement will differ. For characters, the places are many. You can have them done on your chest, wrist, foot, ankle, neck, arm, leg, or back. Some like them large and some like them small. Many women go for smaller designs. Dragons are best in a medium to large size and look good on the chest or the back. Zodiac signs can also be either small or large and can go anywhere characters can go.
Celebrities with Chinese Body Art
Singer Nick Carter from the boy band Backstreet Boys has a shark tattooed on his bicep with Chinese characters meaning Poseidon.
Britney Spears has a flower near her belly button with the Chinese character, meaning mystery near it. And Angelina Jolie has a Chinese dragon tattoo on the small of her sexy little back.
It seems that pop culture has embraced Chinese tattoos even if real Chinese people have not.
Chinese Tattoo Designs and Ideas
If you consider getting a Chinese tattoo, whether it be an image or a character, check out some of these Chinese tattoo images for inspiration!
Chinese Tattoo Sleeve
Chinese Letter Tattoos
Lettering tattoos are also very popular images for tattoos. Instead of writing out a word using letters as we do in English, each Chinese word has a different and unique symbol. Because of Chinese writing’s intricacies, it is tough to master that is why it is a good idea to get them double-checked by a professional or native speaker.
How Chinese Characters Work
Chinese Tattoos for Guys
Chinese Tattoos for Women
These Chinese tattoo designs are very feminine and vibrant with colors.
Chinese Dragon Tattoos
One of the most popular images in Chinese culture is the dragon. In contrast with Western cultures, Chinese dragons are thought to be good omens and have domain over air and water elements. They symbolize prosperity and good luck.
Chinese dragon tattoos can be exceptionally difficult to tell apart from other dragons from the eastern part of the world. One way that is commonly recognized by China, Korea, and Japan, is the number of toes on the dragon paw. Chinese dragons have five toes.
The Chinese recognize four creatures of divinity and the dragon rates in the number one position.
Chinese dragons were described visually as a composite of parts from nine animals: the horns of a deer, head of a camel, eyes of the devil, neck of a snake, abdomen of a large cockle, scales of a carp, claws of an eagle, paws of a tiger and ears of an ox.
Types of Chinese Dragons
According to Chinese literature and myths, there are mainly nine types of Chinese dragons:
- The Tianlong (celestial dragon): The Celestial Dragon is the head dragon in heaven. It protects the celestial palace and carries it.
- Shenlong (spiritual dragon): Controls wind, rain, and clouds. The color of this dragon is blue.
- Fucanglong (dragon of hidden treasures): They live underground, and protect precious metals and gems within the earth.
- Dilong (dragon of the underworlds): Dragons of the earth that run rivers and the seas. They are said to be the feminine of the Shenlong and can mate with them.
- Yinglong (winged dragon): According to legend was a faithful servant of the Yellow Emperor who became a dragon forever.
- Jiaolong (the name is very ambiguous, it can mean aquatic dragon, mother dragon, snake dragon): Aquatic dragon resembling a reptile. It is the most primitive type.
- Panlong (coiled dragon): Water dragon similar to the Jiaolong. It also controls time.
- Huanglong (Yellow Dragon): It is said that the Yellow Emperor became this dragon at the end of his life. It is also said that the Yellow dragon taught writing to the goddess Fuxi and that she controls the seasons and time. Its element is earth.
- Long Wang (dragon king): according to mythology, there are only four dragons. They each own a sea of China and live in glass palaces under the sea. They can also manipulate the weather and cause rain.
Various Chinese Tattoos