Dragon Tattoos

Updated on July 18, 2014
relache profile image

Raye has many body mods, SFSI training, former CFR-D creds, and a decade-long stint as BellaOnline's body art editor, under her belt.

Why Wear A Dragon?

Some people identify with Dragons based on the Asian zodiacs. The Year of the Dragon comes once every twelve years. It is considered a most auspicious year, and more babies are born during Dragon Years than in any of the other eleven animal years. Dragons are symbolic of good luck, health, strength and harmony.

The mythologies about dragons are found in both Eastern and Western cultures. In the East, dragons are wise and benevolent creatures, symbolic of elements or natural forces. In Europe, dragons were often part of a curse or blight upon a land, the subject of conquest for knights on a quest. They were often depicted as hoarding jewels or breathing fire against a foe in battle. In modern myth, dragons can also be found as part of science fiction and fantasy stories and images.

Asian Dragon Mythology

In Chinese mythology, the dragon is the symbol of masculine yang energy, often correlated with rivers and rain. The Imperial Dragon is recognizable by his fifth claw (ordinary dragons have four claws). The five claws in turn symbolize the dragon's ability to move in all four directions (north, east, south, west) simultaneously, while still staying connected to center and being present. In Japanese myth, there are said to be nine different types of dragon, but in Chinese mythology, they only have three types.

Designing Your Dragon

dragon backpiece, Folsom Street Fair, 2002
dragon backpiece, Folsom Street Fair, 2002 | Source

How To Pick Your Dragon

Dragons offer up so many possibilities design-wise, that's part of why they are so popular. It's not too hard to come up with a dragon that is completely and utterly unique for you. Here are some things to think about before you go talk to your tattoo artist about designing your dragon:

Where do you want this dragon? - Having an idea for where the tattoo will go can often start to influence the size and scale of the tattoo design.

What is the attitude of your dragon? - Thinking about what sort of emotion your dragon has or how it's acting can do a lot to suggest what sort of expression it might have on its face and what colors help symbolize the energy behind it. An aggressive, attacking dragon is going to look different than a dragon that is protective or one that represents a specific elemental energy.

What says "dragon" to you? - For some people, the dragon's head is the main focus and they don't need to show the entire body. Others might want the tattoo to be wrapping around a limb. Some might need the dragon to be breathing fire, or flying, or chasing the pearl of wisdom.

Asian-style dragon backpiece


Dragon Tattoo Design

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Actress Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander from the Swedish movie
Actress Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander from the Swedish movie | Source
Actress Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander from the American movie
Actress Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander from the American movie | Source

Interpreting The Dragon

There are nearly endless ways in which you can interpret what a dragon is and how you'd like to have it tattooed. A great example which shows just how different dragons can be can be seen when you compare the two movie versions of the dragon tattoo worn by the character of Lisbeth Salander from the book THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

In the story a general description of a tattoo on Lisbeth's back is given. You get the idea that the dragon is sort of large, sort of fierce and done in black. And not much else other than a few reactions from some of the other characters which range from fascination to revulsion. In the first picture here you see the version that was painted on actress Noomi Rapace for the original movie which was made in Sweden. This is a ragingly fierce dragon, clawing and breaking its way out from under the skin of Lisbeth's back.

The second picture shows the tattoo as it appeared on the back of actress Rooney Mara, who played Lisbeth in the US/Hollywood remake of the film. This dragon is much more minimalist and stylized. It's more of a graphic of a dragon and not the living beast that appeared in the European movie version.

A double dragon chest piece
A double dragon chest piece | Source

Questions & Answers


    Submit a Comment

    • hanwillingham profile image

      hanwillingham 6 years ago

      Beautiful tattoos.

    • Abbygu profile image

      Abbygu 7 years ago

      I love Dragon tattoos particularly, my guy has his up his arm and over his shoulder thanks for the background on them, I have learned more about them, great stuff

    • relache profile image

      Raye 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Glad my timing was good for you, Daoine!

    • daoine profile image

      daoine 10 years ago

      Stunning. I'm writing about a dragon at the moment, so I'm attracted to all things dragonish.

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 10 years ago from Sydney

      Some of them look a bit scary.

      I am afraid of my own shadow, I can trip on a matchstick