A dragon tattoo is a popular choice for men and women across many different cultures and the image of the dragon is one that has prevailed through myths and legends for centuries. A dragon tattoo is always an arresting sight and for those who choose to have a dragon tattooed on a part of their body, it can make a bold and commanding statement of individuality, but where does the dragon image originate from and why do dragon tattoos continue to remain as popular as ever?
Often portrayed as magical beasts, dragons have appeared in stories, myths and legends for millennia. Some storybook dragons are fearsome beasts, breathing fire and malevolence, whereas others are shy creatures, representing hope and good fortune. Not surprisingly, it was only a short leap from the pages of a book to the tattoo parlour and before long, as tattoos grew in popularity, dragon tattoos soon became a very special and symbolic art form.
Why are dragon tattoos so popular?
The main reason why a dragon tattoo remains such an enduring design is largely because of its versatility. The nature of a dragon is such that it can be drawn in a multitude of different ways. The shape is so fluid that a dragon tattoo design will flatter most parts of the body, and when drawn well, the dragon will animate when the body moves.
Over the last few years, dragon tattoos have evolved and taken on a more modern appeal thanks to the artistic skills of some of the leading tattoo artists working today. Traditional dragon designs have been taken to the next level and large numbers of people now sport a far more stylised version of a dragon on various parts of the body. For many, the dragon tattoo has become the tattoo of choice thanks to its beauty and versatility, and these days, it outranks even tribal tattoos in terms of general popularity amongst tattoo enthusiasts.
A dragon can be tattooed on many different parts of the body, from a small dragon on the lower leg, its tail snaking around the ankle, to a large dragon stretched across the lower back. The design possibilities are endless and the only limit is your imagination and the skill of the tattoo artist.
What is the meaning of dragon tattoos?
For women, a dragon tattoo often represents the notion of power just beneath the surface of the skin. Dragons are traditionally creatures possessed with great magical powers, and a woman who chooses to have a dragon tattoo is often a confident and assertive female, in touch with her feminine powers and inner grace.
For men, a dragon tattoo also represents power. Dragons are powerful creatures, yet often blessed with great wisdom, and a man who chooses a dragon tattoo design is tapping into his inner strength and bravery.
Where do dragon tattoos originate from?
The image of a dragon can be traced back in time to many different cultures, but there are often crucial differences between dragon designs from different parts of the world. For example, Asian dragon designs are very different from those found in European myths and legends, which can be important if you are seeking a particular style of dragon for your tattoo.
Chinese dragons are widely considered to be the iconic image of a dragon and in Chinese culture dragons are imbued with the power to control rainfall. Chinese dragons appear in all parts of the Chinese culture, and for many, a Chinese dragon is a beautiful and symbolically powerful choice for a tattoo. The Chinese dragon always has five claws on its foot, whereas a Japanese dragon only has four claws
In European culture, dragons often have a far more fearsome reputation and regularly appear as the villains of the piece. In the legend of St George, the dragon was a fierce fire breathing predator to which sacrifices were made in an attempt to appease its murderous tendencies. In the legend of Beowulf, the dragon was called Grendel, and it was portrayed as a misshapen and evil creature that was eventually slain by the hero, Beowulf. In Greek culture, dragons also featured as terrifying monsters to be slain by the hero on his quest to rescue the damsel in distress.
Naturally, the interest in dragons from popular culture soon extended into tattoo art and as tattoos became more widely accepted, it was not long before tattoo enthusiasts began to explore the use of dragon imagery in the art of the tattoo.
Chinese dragon tattoos have long been a popular design for men and the Chinese dragon often forms the centrepiece of large, incredibly complex tattoos covering vast swathes of flesh, typically the chest or the back. But thanks to the versatility of the dragon design, women are also beginning to recognise the incredible beauty of a dragoon tattoo and are choosing dragon tattoos over and above more traditional feminine designs such as butterflies and angels.
What should I consider before I have a dragon tattoo?
Ideally, you will want a tattoo that is original, so instead of opting for a standard design from the local tattoo shop, do some research to try and find a design that is both unique and suitable for your body. If you spend some time looking, you are sure to find a great design that your tattoo artist can work with and add his or her own artistic flourishes. Done well, dragon tattoos are always striking, so take your time and choose the right design.
Once you have found a great dragon tattoo design, it is a good idea to give careful thought as to where exactly you plan on having your tattoo. Dragon tattoos can greatly enhance the curvature of certain areas of the body, so in order to make the most of the design you need to think about how your finished design will look. For large designs, the back is probably the best area, but for smaller designs, you can try wrapping your dragon around an arm or leg.