The History & Meaning Behind Dragon Tattoos

Dragon Tattoos History & Meaning

The dragon tattoo is one of the most popular and thought-provoking tattoo designs seen around the world. Dragon tattoos have been around for hundreds of years in some cultures. It’s no wonder that tattoo artists and canvases alike have been impressed with the variety of dragon tattoo designs, with styles evolving as the years go on.

Dragon Tattoo Meaning

This mesmerising tattoo style means something different depending on your culture. In China, Japan and Vietnam in particular, dragons have a rich history, making them highly regarded mythical creatures. Often representing wisdom, freedom, and strength, an Eastern-style dragon tattoo is a symbol of power. In contrast, in Europe, dragons were considered evil creatures to be slayed. The meaning of the dragon tattoo will vary depending on who you are and where you’re from.  

Types Of Dragon Tattoos

Dragon tattoo meaning has evolved over the years. The true meaning of your tattoo will depend on the type of dragon you choose, including its history, meaning and symbolism.

Chinese Dragon Tattoos

The Chinese dragon is both a positive and negative symbol in Chinese culture.

Chinese Dragon Tattoo

This dragon tattoo design simultaneously represents power and fear, two conflicting, yet strong emotions. In greater contrast, the Chinese dragon can also represent wisdom and good luck, showing the many complexities of the Chinese dragon tattoo’s meaning.

This style of dragon tattoo is often drawn in a snake-like fashion with small legs, rather than as a large, winged creature. When positioning the Chinese dragon tattoos on your body, make sure it’s pointed upwards towards the sky or it’s considered a bad omen. 

Japanese Dragon Tattoos

The Japanese dragon tattoo’s meaning is significantly more positive than its Chinese counterpart. This very positive ancient symbol is considered to protect and guard families and homes. Japanese dragons are also known to spread happiness, freedom and good luck to the people of Japan.

Rhys Tattoo Artist Japanese Chinese Dragon Outline Shoulder Back Tattoo

As a highly regarded mythical creature, the Japanese dragon is a cultural icon that is often depicted in the water, adding a unique spin on typical dragon tattoo designs.

Vietnamese Dragon Tattoos

The Vietnamese dragon is a powerful and noble creature that has influenced art for hundreds of years. Tattoo artists can derive dragon tattoo meaning from traditional Vietnamese dragon artwork, and will often design a Vietnamese dragon tattoo in a S shape, surrounded by thunder and lightning to symbolise power.

Celtic Dragon Tattoos

The Celtic dragon tattoo is a simple, yet intricate design style that often uses bold, dark knots and unattached lines to depict the dragon. In history, Celtic dragons have appeared on armour and the flags of ancient family lines. Often associated with the throne, this type of dragon tattoo represents the cycle of life, including its ups and downs.

Eastern Dragon Tattoos

The Eastern dragon, also known as the oriental dragon, is one of the most sacred creatures in East Asia culture. Drawings of the Eastern dragon date back to prehistoric times, with this ancient style being replicated in tattoos still to this day. Eastern dragons are considered to be heroes, protecting the heavens and spreading good fortune.

Popular Dragon Tattoo Styles

Japanese Dragon Tattoo
Spyro Dragon Tattoo

Placement Of Dragon Tattoos

One of the most appealing reasons to get a dragon tattoo is that the shape of the dragon can be altered depending on where you want the tattoo positioned on your body. Whether you opt for a small dragon tattoo or a larger, more statement piece, your tattoo artist will be able to manipulate it to suit your body.

Leg Dragon Tattoos

Dragon tattoos are a fantastic statement piece when placed on the leg or thigh. By choosing the leg for your piece, you will be able to showcase the dragon in all its beauty, as your tattoo artist will have the room to get creative and produce stunning artwork. A thigh tattoo of a dragon works well for 18th-century dragon designs or earlier.

Back Dragon Tattoos

Another large space to get a dragon tattoo is on your back. By positioning your tattoo on your back, you give your tattoo artist a wide area to work, thereby striking and unforgettable results for your art piece. Alternatively, you can also get a dragon chest tattoo on your front, which gives your artist the same amount of room to work.

Italo Tattoo Artist Realism Fantasy Dragons Game Of Thrones Back Tattoo

Arm Dragon Tattoos

Christian Tattoo Artist Black And Grey Fantasy Game Of Thrones Dragon Forearm Tattoo

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