To the Chinese, the dragon is the lord of the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) and of the four directions (north, east, south, west).
In Chinese mythology, the dragon could shape-shift into other creatures, for instance in a human, a silkworm or the entire universe. Dragons have a yang (male) nature and are associated with the number 9, a lucky number in China because it is the biggest possible single number.
Most often a dragon tattoo 'winds' itself up a person’s arm (or leg) and ends on the chest (see pic below). The upper back is also a popular spot, the dragon's head extending over the shoulder to the chest.
Dragons in Chinese designs are often combined with a tiger or phoenix, usually in a fighting pose.
According to the Chinese zodiac system, you are a dragon if you are born in the year 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 or 2012. There's more to Chinese tattoos than just the symbol tattoos, although tattoos have quite a negative connotation in traditional Chinese culture. Despite the negative connotation of the Chinese tattoo, there has always been tattooing in China. Even in modern China today, tattoos are considered to be connected with the underworld and triads somehow, although this attitude is slowly changing. The Chinese tattoo doesn't have a very interesting history, but there are several ethnic minorities in China who do have a strong tattoo tradition.
The woman of the Drung tribe used to tattoo their faces when they reached the age of 12, as a symbol of maturity.
About 3 centuries ago, the women of the Drung tribe were often attacked by other ethnic groups and to avoid being raped, they used tattoos to make themselves less attractive.
Of course, modern tattoo equipment was not available 300 years ago, thorns were used to puncture the skin and charcoal was used instead of tattoo ink. When girls reached the age of 12, they receive their first tattoos on the neck, face and throat.
As opposed to Western beliefs, the dragon in Chinese culture is a benevolent creature that wards of evil spirits. In Chinese culture there is the belief that wearing the image of a dragon on you is considered very unlucky. Sometimes you see a person with a tattoo of a dragon combined with the Chinese dragon character.


The phoenix (aka firebird) is a Chinese mythological creature (it also exists in Greek mythology). A phoenix tattoo combined with a dragon symbolizes the union between husband and wife (yin and yang).
Yin Yang tattoo art is popular in the West and again it's easy to see why: the symbol is simple yet dramatic and can easily be combined or incorporated in other tattoo designs. Many people are interested in Eastern spirituality nowadays and the yin yang is a meaningful symbol of balance and harmony. Just like good and bad of the heat that must be weighed against the cold, tattoo design of dragon and phoenix meet.
Another common element in both Western and Eastern dragon tattoos, it is the presence of a flame or fire. Many people with strong spiritual beliefs choose the celestial dragon to share those beliefs and confirm their own spiritual path. In these stories, dragons were protectors of the Buddha and helped him to defeat evil spirits. In such designs, the dragon symbolizes the positive force and the tiger or phoenix the negative or destructive force.
Despite the dubious attitudes towards tattooing, there is some evidence that tattooing and other body art are making inroads among Chinese youth today.
The tattoos were done between the eyebrows and around the mouth, resembling a butterfly or diamond design. Children as young as 5 were tattooed, and then again at the age of 14, as a symbol of maturity. Tattoos play an important role in the Li women's life and their tattoo tradition can be traced back to 3000 years ago.
In Chinese culture the phoenix is known as Fenghuang and was used to represent the empress. This is symbolized by the black dot in the white part and the white dot in the black part of the Taijitu. The yin yang symbol can be rendered in almost any size – a small yin yang tattoo the size of a quarter or even smaller is very tasteful, while still making a strong statement. Almost always true, the dragon hatched from eggs like other reptiles, and live for a very long time. In some translations of the Bible, the word dragon is sometimes used to refer to the devil.


In Western culture, the dragon was a great enemy, who could be defeated by the brave, strong warrior and the noblest. Dragon tattoo designs are usually very ornate and are often very large to accommodate for this high level of detail. Other times it is because of the smoke through the nose, just as if they represented the fire-breathing.
That's why until today dragons are used in temple art, such as statues, carvings or paintings. An added benefit of such a placement is that it enhances your muscles and makes you look stronger. Perhaps the most surprising, the dragon is described as being similar in all regions of the world. A big difference, as the dragons are good or bad after, between Eastern and Western dragons, Eastern dragons in this situation people are turning to Western dragons have no ability.
Even Western dragons are usually tattooed with outstretched wings and the flight if they are feared. Japanese and Chinese dragons are benevolent creatures, while Western dragons are usually evil.
A dragon is usually depicted as a reptile with claws of an eagle, a serpent’s tail and wings like a bat. In Chinese culture, the dragon is religiously significant, and confirms that the protector of the Buddhist law and legal guardians. Together they symbolize the forces of men and women in the world and when they are combined to create balance and harmony. As such, Western dragon tattoos often symbolize these qualities, like the nobility, honor, courage, duty and triumph. The flame of Phoenix reborn, so that the fire is often a terminal of the tattoo design world.
The most popular dragon tattoo designs are Chinese dragon tattoos and tribal dragon tattoos (Angelina Jolie has got a small dragon tattoo). Regardless of whether the dragon is west or east, is the illusion, with few exceptions, a tattoo with a positive spirit and rich history.



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