Dragon tattoos have long been popular design choices in the tattoo industry. Both men and women choose them due to their versatility in both size and design. Dragon tattoos are commonly placed on the upper arm covering the outer shoulder and bicep areas; however, large backpieces are not uncommon. Whether crawling up legs or wrapping around torsos, dragon tattoos can be colorful works of art, detailed monotones or strong tribal graphics—all of which demand attention.
Although there are many types of dragon tattoos, those featuring Chinese dragons are the most common. To help identify a dragon’s origin, Chinese legend states that the further away from China a dragon traveled the least number of toes it would have. Therefore, Chinese dragons have five toes, Korean dragons have four toes and Japanese dragons have three toes. Regardless of type, dragon tattoos featuring a flaming pearl under the dragon’s chin is perceived as a symbol of good luck, wealth and prosperity.
Eastern Dragon Tattoos
Eastern dragon tattoos are seen as positive, friendly and beautiful. These types of dragons are worshipped by Chinese people thought of as “lung de chuan ren,” or descendants of the dragon. These dragons usually have beards and whiskers but rarely have wings. Instead they have “poh shans” that grow from the tops of their heads to pump air and enable flight. They generally have slender bodies that look too long for their four short legs to carry. Most eastern dragons are noted as living in water and are thought to control its many forms: seas, rivers, lakes and rain.
The majority of eastern dragon tattoos are red or green in color, but any desired ink color may be used. These dragons, as well as eastern dragon tattoos, are thought of as symbols of good luck. Even the Chinese “Year of the Dragon,” (discussed below) observed every twelve years, is connected to the eastern Dragon and thought to bring years of health, wealth and long-living to those born during those years.
Western Dragon Tattoos
Western dragon tattoos are seen as villainous. They feature fire-breathing dragons like those in medieval folklore and are thought to terrorize villages and abduct women and children. Western dragons resemble serpents and have powerful, muscular bodies. They have four strong legs, a wedged shaped head and pointed teeth. Their large wings give them the ability to fly to high altitudes; therefore, they are regularly drawn in mountainous landscapes. Western dragons were popular in the Middle Ages as knights brave enough to fight and kill these fierce creatures would gain the dragon’s protected treasures.
Japanese Dragon Tattoos
Symbolizing kindness, freedom and power, dragon tattoos are commonly inked as full backpieces, full body art and half sleeves in Japanese culture. Japanese dragon tattoos usually feature wingless dragons with serpent-like bodies, small legs and three toes.
Types of Chinese Dragon Tattoos
Here is a list of the nine types of Chinese Dragons and their associated dragon tattoos:
Horned Dragon Tattoos (mightiest of all dragons, can produce rain and is deaf.)
Winged Dragon Tattoos (the only dragon type to have wings, oldest of all eastern dragons)
Celestial Dragon Tattoos (protects the Gods)
Spiritual Dragon Tattoos (controller of wind and rain)
Hidden Treasure Dragon Tattoos (keeper of treasures and gems)
Coiling Dragon Tattoos (lives in water)
Yellow Dragon Tattoos (most knowledgeable and scholarly)
Underground Dragon Tattoos (presides over rivers and streams)
Dragon King Tattoos (consists of four separate dragons each representing one of the four seas – north, east, south and west)
Chinese Zodiac Dragon Tattoos
In Chinese astrology, there are specific calendar years that are referred to as the “Year of the Dragon.” If you were born during one of these years, then your Chinese zodiac sign would be a dragon. However, these years are further broken down into specific dates, and the dragon sign is then accompanied by one of the five elements (water, fire, earth metal and wood) for each of these periods. Below are a list of “dragon” dates and their associated Chinese zodiac dragon tattoos:
February 16, 1904 - February 3,1905 Wood Dragon Tattoos
February 3, 1916 - January 22, 1917 Fire Dragon Tattoos
January 23, 1928 - February 9, 1929 Earth Dragon Tattoos
February 8, 1940 - January 26, 1941 Metal Dragon Tattoos
January 27, 1952 - February 13, 1953 Water Dragon Tattoos
February 13, 1964 - February 1, 1965 Wood Dragon Tattoos
January 31, 1976 - February 17, 1977 Fire Dragon Tattoos
February 17, 1988 - February 5,1989 Earth Dragon Tattoos
February 5, 2000 - January 23, 2001 Metal Dragon Tattoos
Wood Dragon Tattoos (creative, fearless when challenged, logical)
Earth Dragon Tattoos (a quiet dragon that rules all of earth)
Fire Dragon Tattoos (extroverted and competitive)
Metal Dragon Tattoos (most strong-willed, refuses to accept failure)
Water Dragon Tattoos (less selfish and opinionated that the others)
Characteristics of those with dragon zodiacs include being energetic, optimistic, intelligent, ambitious, strong, decisive and confident. Failure does not overcome them; instead, they achieve success by consistently overcoming obstacles. They are usually perfectionists and tend to set high standards for themselves. Some celebrities that were born in the Year of the Dragon include John Lennon, Keanu Reeves, Ringo Starr, Bruce Lee, Florence Nightingale and Helen Keller.
Famous Chinese Dragons
XU: Five-clawed dragon and the emblem of the emperor.
LUNG WANG: A fiery dragon that is the immortal king of all dragons. Having a human body, Lung Wang resides in a palace under the sea.
GREAT CHIEN-TANG: Red, 900-foot dragon that is the commander of all River Dragons.
YING LONG: Winged dragon that is covered in fur.
Feng Shui Dragon Tattoos
Those interested in incorporating feng shui into their body art are on luck when it comes to dragon tattoo designs. Feng Shui dragons are a symbol of strong, male energy. Pregnant dragons symbolize future growth and expansion while pairing a dragon with a phoenix is the ultimate feng shui symbol of marital bliss. Choosing a dragon grasping a pearl or crystal ball in its claw is representative of power, wealth and an abundance of opportunity.
Celebrities with Dragon Tattoos
Dragon tattoos are even popular among some of today’s most famous celebrities. Here is a small sampling of tattooed celebrities and where they bare their dragon tattoos:
DAVID ARQUETTE / Actor: Dragon tattoo on right calf
MEL “Scary Spice” B / “Spice Girls” Singer: Dragon tattoo on back
MELANIE “Sporty Spice” C / “ Spice Girls” Singer: Dragon tattoo on right calf
BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN / Actor: Dragon tattoo on right forearm
JEFF HARDY / Wrestler: Dragon tattoo on left calf
PINK / Singer: Dragon tattoo on upper left thigh
FREDDIE PRINZE, JR. / Actor: Winged dragon tattoo on upper left arm
SCOTT WEILAND / Singer: Dragon tattoo on right arm
BRUCE WILLIS / Actor: Dragon tattoo on right shoulder
JOHNNY WINTER / Musician: Dragon tattoo on chest
View professionally designed dragon tattoos NOW!