Dragon tattoo designs are very popular because the creature, by nature, evokes many meanings. It can be used in many ways to make a statement, thanks in part to the dragon’s influence in mythology, history, and even pop culture.
Dragon Tattoo Designs are also versatile, and not tied to one culture, primarily because the West and the East have their own different versions of the giant lizard, giving people who are considering a dragon tattoo a multitude of choices, such as:
Oriental Dragon Tattoo Designs
The Chinese dragons (and their counterparts in Japanese, Korean, Turkish, and Vietnamese culture) are not evil monsters, but rather as powerful creatures that can control the forces of nature, with some of them even worshipped as deities. This is why oriental dragons are commonly used as symbols of power, luck, and strength. The most notable usage being that of the Emperor of China, who uses it as a symbol of his imperial authority.
Oriental Dragon Tattoo Designs are typically portrayed as long, scaly serpents with four small legs. They are usually depicted as holding a large pearl in one hand, which is said to be their source of power. In mainstream media, dragon tattoo designs are very common, particularly with regards to martial artists and warriors.
Some examples of dragon tattoo designs from the East:
The Yin/Yang Dragons – it used to be that the dragon only represents the yin, with the yang being represented by the peacock (and later on, the phoenix), but over time, the yin/yang design has been changed to two dragons, one portraying the white yin, and the other portraying the black yang, with the two serpents depicted as the opposite of each other when it comes to color and position.
The Pearl Dragon – as mentioned above, some dragons are portrayed as holding a pearl in one hand, which is said to be the source of their power. This kind of dragon design is usually used to symbolize good luck and wealth.
The Yakuza Dragon – this type of dragon tattoo is used by mobsters, but became more popular due to mainstream depictions of mobsters in films, comic books, and even cartoons. It is usually shown as a long dragon wrapped around the torso or the arms, but the main idea behind the yakuza dragon is for it to cover as much of your body, which makes the person stand out and look more intimidating.
Western Dragon Tattoo Designs
The dragons in western culture are less benevolent, particularly when they first started appearing in Welsh folklore. While extremely powerful creatures in their own right, the dragons of the west are not powerful enough to be considered as deities, and in fact, can be slain by mortal humans.
The main difference between western and oriental Dragon Tattoo Designs, particularly when it comes to dragon tattoo designs, is in their looks – a western dragon, unlike Chinese ones, does not have an elongated snake-like body, but a lizard’s stout, bulkier torso (akin to dinosaurs, which are said to be the main influence behind dragon folklore). Western dragons also possess bat-type wings on its back, and the legs of a lizard, with the hind legs being more muscular and longer. This allows some dragons to stand upright and walk like a biped.
When it comes to western dragon tattoo designs, there are a lot more choices since western dragons are well-used in a lot of medieval and modern stories. Some of the more popular choices for Dragon Tattoo Designs include:
Medieval Dragons – medieval dragons are perfect for people who want a design that depicts western dragons as intimidating monsters, mostly because they are portrayed as malevolent fire-breathing monsters in medieval culture.
Baby Dragons – for those who want a slightly cute, non-evil depiction of the western dragon. An example of a baby dragon is Norbert from Harry Potter.
The Wyvern – not a specific character, but a popular type of western dragon. The Wyvern is portrayed the same, except for the fact that it doesn’t have legs, making it more like a giant snake with bat wings.
Mascot Dragons – tattoos don’t always have to be scary or intimidating, and sometimes people just want a cuddly little dragon. And pop culture has supplied us with a wide variety of cute mascot dragons, like Charizard from Pokemon, or Spyro from the Spyro the Dragon series of videogames.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to go with an oriental or European dragon tattoo, it all boils down to choosing the right one that represents the message or statement you want your tattoo to convey. It also helps that Dragon Tattoo Designs can come in all sorts of colors, which ensures that you can tailor the look specifically to match your body.