A popular tattoo design worn by both men and women is the dragon. There are various designs for people who want to get a dragon tattoo. It comes in various sizes and details. The dragon has a lot of good and bad attributes, traits and characteristics. This makes it a versatile choice for someone who is looking for their first tattoo.
Having said that, knowing the history, cultural association, mythology, traits, and characteristics of the dragon is important. The artistically beautiful design of tattoo will make you want to get it in a heartbeat, but you wouldn’t want to have something inked in your body for the rest of your life without knowing what it represents for you. Or if you do, you might still want to know just a little bit about it (at least).
The word dragon comes from the Latin word dragomen meaning a “huge serpent”. In Greek drakon meaning “serpent or giant sea fish”. In both Latin and Greek, it refers to a serpent of sort.
There are different types of dragons featured in different cultures: first is the serpent-like and the other is a creature that resembles a lizard and emits fire from their mouth and the last one is a giant creature that has a bat-like wings.
A dragon is often mentioned and featured in myths of many cultures. Each culture has a different representation of the dragon (in characteristics, traits, ectc.) but somehow through the years it have influenced one another.
Let’s take a look at the different dragon designs, its history and meaning.
Dragons in Greek Mythology
The dragon was first mentioned in an Ancient Greek poem: The Iliad. The dragons mentioned in Greek mythology were different from the others. Dragons were said to be ‘serpentine monsters’ and didn’t have the ability to fly.
There are three groups of dragons in Greek Mythology: the Dracones (serpent-like), Cetea (marine-dwelling) and Dracaena (she-monster-like). Some of the famous Dracones dragons in Greek Mythology are Python (dragon that was slain by Apollo), Ladon (serpent-like dragon with hundred heads), and Lernaean Hydra (a nine-headed dragon that possesses deadly venom).
Another popular dragon in the Greek Mythology is the Torjan Cetus. It came from the Cetea group and is the sea monster that was sent by Poseidon. For the family of Dracaena dragons, the Scythian Dracaena who is a monstrous woman described to have a normal woman form from the waist up, but has a serpentine tail of dragon instead of human legs.
Japanese dragons were influenced by Chinese dragons. It is believed to be water deities and are associated with bodies of water. Physically, like in Greek myths, they are depicted as serpentine creatures but with clawed feet. Japanese dragons are said to possess three claws.
In Vietnam, dragons are considered as a symbolic creature. In a Vietnam myth, it is said that the people of Vietnamese defended from a dragon and a fairy. Like in other cultures, Vietnamese Dragon is associated with rain which is essential for their agriculture. It is believed that dragon brings rain.
The Vietnamese Dragon also represents the emperor. It also symbolises prosperity and the power of the Vietnamese nation. The Vietnamese dragon, just like the Chinese Dragon, is also the symbol of yang which represents life and growth.
One of the most popular dragon designs is the Chinese Dragons. It has been found in the artifacts of Chinese Dynasties like Shang and Zhou way back 16th centuries BC. In Ancient Chinese, it is said that the Dragon is one of the four creatures of the world’s directions. It represents new beginnings.
There are NINE CHINESE DRAGONS and each one has different unique characteristics.
- P’u-lao is one of the Chinese Dragons which act as a protector and alerts one to danger. The dragon that you see on bells, gongs, and singing bowls are P’u-lao.
- Pi-his brings luck, knowledge and finer education.
- Pa-hsia is the one responsible during times of need. This Chinese Dragon provides straight and supports to those who call for it.
- Pi-kau serves to defend one against false accusation, verbal disputes and litigation.
- Chao-feng is the guardian of holy temples and sacred lands.
- Chih wen is said to symbolise the power of water over fire.
- Ch’iu-niu uses ancient dragon music to create “Yang” energy.
- Suan-ni is also a protector like the Chinese Dragon P’u-lao but focuses more on the protection against betrayal, loss and theft.
- Yai-tzu is another Chinese Dragon that acts as a protector, specifically against physical harm.
Dragons were described as a benevolent creature that brings luck and prosperity. It is believed that dragon brings continued success, prosperity and achievements. The Chinese name for dragon is long or lung and is believed to resemble the sound of thunder. The Chinese Dragon is also said to have control over bodies of water, rainfall, among others.
Lung are known to be mythical creatures that are ready to face any obstacles and is driven to succeed. Therefore, the Chinese Dragon also symbolizes perseverance, optimism and ambitiousness.
In China, the dragon is associated with the Emperor and symbolises power, excellence and majesty. Thus, the dragon is considered as the highest-ranking animal in their animal hierarchy.
Chinese Dragons are said to be energetic. In Ancient Chinese, they are known as the ultimate symbol of Chi or Energy. Other traits that Chinese Dragons have are decisiveness, optimism, boldness and nobility.
Dragons in Europe
In Christianity, European dragons are usually pictured to be a creature who is evil. While during pre-Christian period, dragons such as the Red Dragon of Wales, are seen as a kind-hearted and benevolent creature.
Three-headed dragons that spits fire are often the description of Russian dragons. In Russia, a dragon was mentioned in a story where St. George which represents Christianity, killed a dragon which is said to symbolise Satan.
What does dragon mean?
With all the different representation and myths of dragons and the wide range of traits it has, it symbolizes both the good and the bad. It can be a symbol for power, wisdom, luck and protection and can also represent the total opposite of it like chaos, evil act and arrogance.
There are different kinds of tattoo dragon designs and it has different representations as well.
Types of Dragons
When choosing a dragon tattoo design, you may want to consider choosing one of the six dragons that are part of the Japanese culture. Each dragons have different meanings.
Han-Riu is one of the biggest dragons known in their history and culture. It is characterised by the stripes all over it’s body.
Kai-Riu is a Japanese dragon that is characterised by its size which is smaller than the others. It’s stunning red color makes it unique.
Sue-Riu is the king of all Japanese dragons. It is said that the Sue-Riu is the one in control of rain.
Ri-Riu is known to have amazing eyesight. Unlike the other Japanese dragons, there are much less information about it. It is said to be a rare breed.
Hai-Riyo is a Japanese dragon that is greatly influenced by Chinese mythology. It is also called as a “dragon bird”. From the six Japanese dragons, Hai-Riyo is the most advanced.
Fuku Riu is known to bring luck. Among the six, it is the most favored dragon.
The Chinese Dragons can represent a good and a bad. It represents strength and power as it also represents fear.
The Horned Dragon is known to be the strongest of all dragons. It is said that this dragon is deaf but can produce rain.
The Celestial Dragon is known to live in the sky. It guards and acts as the protector of the gods.
The Earth Dragons are the ones found in Chinese astrology. As the name implies, Earth Dragons are the type of dragons that rule the earth.
The Yellow Dragons are said to once turned up from water. These dragons are known for their knowledge.
The Treasure Dragons acts as guardians of hidden treasures and other valuable concealed wealth on earth.
The Spiritual Dragons help the mankind by bringing about wind and rain.
The Coiling Dragons are known to live in water.
The Winged Dragon is characterised by its wings.
The Dragon King is consist of four separate dragons. It is said to represent the four dragons that guards the four seas: north, south, east, and west.
Colors of the Dragons
There are different colors of the dragons and each has different meanings. In choosing color for your Dragon Tattoo design, it’s good to know what does each color represents. Black is the most common color used in a tattoo, but with the wide variety of dragon designs, adding different colors to your tattoo is possible depending on the design you choose. Here are some of the meanings behind the colors of the dragon.
- Black is associated to the older dragons and represents wisdom.
- Green symbolizes earth and life. It is usually associated with the smaller dragons.
- Blue may represent compassion, forgiveness or laziness.
- Yellow represents two opposite characteristics: helpful and self-centered.
- Gold, on the other hand, has great attributes that come with it. Kindness, helpfulness, and wisdom are some of them.
Few tips before getting a tattoo:
Your tattoo will be with you for the rest of your life (unless you have it removed which will cost a fortune). Make sure to really take your time to decide on which tattoo design you would want and where you want it to be inked. If you have a certain tattoo design that you want, research more about it. It doesn’t hurt to know the history, background, and meanings of the tattoo that you want. It will not only make getting a tattoo meaningful, but it will also help you in answering the question “Why did you choose that design?”.
When it comes to where you are going to get your tattoo, research first and ask around. It is also important to visit the tattoo shop of your choice. Even the ones with good reviews are sometimes not just the right place for you.
Be prepared. Save up so that you can afford to get your tattoo done by a good tattoo artist. It comes with a price but it will ensure you that the quality of tattoo will be good. We don’t say that you line up to the most popular tattoo artist, but most of the tattoo artist that are licensed and experienced price more than the others. Go and schedule a consultation to see if he’s the best choice for you. Take your time. Better be safe than sorry.
Before making any decision, consider all the aspects of your life. Your work for example. If you work in a corporate setting, better get a tattoo inked in an area that can be covered if needed. Choose an area that you are most comfortable with. Also, consider your pain tolerance. When in the process of getting your tattoo, some areas will hurt more than the others. Do your research.
Lastly, be sure that you really, really want to get a tattoo. Don’t do it on impulse because those people who do often regret it. Goodluck!