A dragon tattoo is a symbol of power courage strength and strong will. Dragons were valued for their warlike qualities and were often believed to be protectors of valuable treasure. In medieval times it was said that kings used dragons to protect sacred treasures in caves. No one could take the treasure without slaying the dragon first. This included the king also. So dutiful and valiant was the dragon. Both Chinese and Japanese folklore is full of stories of how different creatures were transformed into dragons at the end of their different quests involving journeys of immense perseverance and struggles. It is no wonder that the dragon tattoo is such a popular symbol.
As in all things there is a big difference in the way the people of the east and the west view dragons. In the east the dragon has been viewed as a symbol of benevolent power that protected people, dispensed life giving water and heralded fertility and good fortune. In contrast western cultures viewed the dragon as something to be feared and hated since it destroyed villages to loot and hoard treasure. So a dragon tattoo is used to symbolize a mean stubborn and tough image in the west. In the east however the dragon tattoo is a representation of might power and divine grace because the dragon is seen as a bearer of profound blessings. In fact the Chinese people are fondly referred to as the descendents of the dragon.
In the Far East the dragon represents the four natural elements earth wind fire and water and also represents the four directions north south east and west. Just as nature has the capacity to both nurture and destroys so does the dragon. And just as nature encompasses all the four directions so does the power of the dragon. Therefore dragon tattoos are seen as indicative of special strength and abilities.
In Japanese and Chinese cultures the highest gift anyone could receive was to be transformed into a dragon. The power and magical abilities of the dragon could only be received after an incredibly long quest filled with dangers and perils. Certain dragons were supposed to possess large amounts of wisdom and it was said that one could only pass by them if one correctly answered its riddles. The dragon tattoo therefore became a symbol of this much coveted raw power and immense intelligence
The designs on dragon tattoos show the growing influence that eastern cultures have had on the west and vice versa.
Today the dragon tattoo is seen the world over as fashionable and a representation of being free and fearless. The most common form of design in a dragon tattoo is still the eastern and oriental representation. Dragon tattoos are normally drawn in black and highlighted with colorful flames and fire. There is a superstition that the eyes of the dragon must not be colored or it will cause the dragon to come to life! So some traditional eastern people put ink in the eyes of the dragon tattoo after the person dies in order to set the dragon free. Men usually place their dragon tattoos on their back, arms, shoulders and legs while women place their dragon tattoos on shoulder, nape, side, ankle and foot.
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