06.08.2014
Japanese dragons are not simply beautiful design choices for tattoos, they are ancient symbols full of meaning.
In Japanese myth, the dragon Ryujin held sway over the power of the ocean, regulating the tides with magical jewels from his undersea palace of coral.
This is why in Japan, dragons have long been associated with water, which helps to explain the reptilian, serpentine appearance of Japanese dragons. Guardians: Japanese dragons are akin to the angels of Western culture, possessing superhuman strength, a fearless spirit, and divine wisdom. Black, white, blue and red colored dragons are described as corresponding with the four elements (wind, earth, water and fire), as well as with the four directions (north, south, east and west).
Yellow dragons are considered a rare occurrence, with a reputation for staying aloof from humanity, only appearing at opportune moments.
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. Understanding the different types of dragons, and what qualities they represent, can help you select a design that will best suit your personality.
Like the Chinese dragon, the anatomy of a Japanese dragon is a combination of parts from a number of animals, with each part symbolizing a quality from the animal it represents. The only real difference is that Japanese dragons have only three digits on each extremity, while Chinese dragons have four or (usually) five. The association with the imperial family provides insight to the nature of guardianship that Japanese dragons can symbolize.
Inking a design on the upper arm, with the dragon wrapping around the arm, then extending onto the chest or back, is another popular option.


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. That's why until today dragons are used in temple art, such as statues, carvings or paintings. While inking the entire dragon is the most popular choice, tattoos featuring just the head of a Japanese dragon are another option.



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