Dragons are one of the most powerful symbols around. They can mean different things in different cultures, and to different people, but they always fascinating. For that reason, they make wonderful tattoos. When getting inked, most people want to find a symbol that will intrigue and inspire with its beauty and meaning.However, there are so many different kinds of dragons, each with their own history and associations. And you have many different body parts on which to consider putting them. If you are thinking of getting a dragon tattoo, you have plenty of options to think over before you sit yourself down on the tattoo parlor chair. Here are some of the things you should consider before deciding on your dragon tattoo.
Dragons have a strong place in the myth and legend of many different cultures, both Eastern and Western. If you are going to have a dragon tattoo, it is important that you find out what that tattoo means. Otherwise, you could risk both causing offence and inviting ridicule. Given that a tattoo is a permanent and expensive way to adorn you body, you should understand what your tattoo is all about.
Don't just pick a picture picture from the internet or your tattooist's flash collection without knowing more about it.
Do you want a tattoo which reflects your own cultural background? Or are you fascinated by another culture and its values and want a tattoo which reflects that? Read on for a little background on the cultural history of different dragons.
In the West, dragons have often been considered as evil, something which needed to be fought and, often, killed. They tend to be depicted as large and intimidating creatures, breathing fire and flashing their talons. However, they are also sometimes seen as benevolent and protective. The dragon is often a symbol of pagan peoples, with symbolic power struggles taking place between pagan dragons and Christian interlopers.
Some classic Western dragons are:
- The Welsh dragon. A red dragon which adorns the Welsh national flag today, but whose history goes back further. It was also thought to be the battle flag of King Arthur, and a symbol of all Celtic people.
- Greek dragons. The Greek dragons were generally serpent-like, evil creatures who set out to thwart the Gods and forces for good in general.
- The Beowulf dragon. In the famous poem Beowulf, the hero slays the dragon which is guarding the treasure he is seeking.
In the East, most dragons are seen as forces for good, rather than for evil as most Western dragons are. The oldest Eastern dragons come from Chinese culture, and many of their dragon myths have fused with dragon myths from other Eastern cultures, including the Japanese and Indian. They are often closely linked to religion, with both Buddhist and Hindu traditions recognizing dragons and using them in their religious art. Buddhist temples, for example, are often adorned with dragons. Dragons play an important part in ritual and celebration for many people in the East. They are used as symbols of luck, and so come to play a part in many celebrations.
Different colored dragons can mean different things. For example, to the Chinese an Azure dragon represents compassion, and a white dragon virtue.
As you can see, there are very varied meanings attached to dragons from around the world. When choosing your dragon tattoo, think carefully about why you want it and how you want to depict it. Most dragon tattoos, especially those based on Eastern designs, make heavy use of color. While you could have a black or grey dragon tattoo, a colored one will have so much more impact. You could also think about whether you would like to incorporate your dragon tattoo into a wider design, as many people do.
If you plan to have an evil dragon, perhaps you could have a design which incorporates the dragon slayer, as most Western dragon myths include? Or if you choose a benevolent Eastern dragon, consider that dragon’s meaning and use that to inform your design. Also think about placement before you finalize your tattoo. An elaborate design might need a big area of skin such as your bag, whereas a smaller single dragon would work well on an upper-arm or lower-leg. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something you will love forever.