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Dragon Tattoo Meaning Plus 50 Tattoos for Inspiration!

by Sherri Owens

From wisdom and prosperity to bad omens, dragon tattoos can have a lot of different meanings.

I first became interested in the dragon tattoo when I studied art in China. Through my research, I realized that dragon mythology was prevalent all around the world and I decided to discover all the symbolism associated with them.

Here are the tattoos and meanings that you should be aware of.

What Does a Dragon Symbolize?

Before you can get a dragon tattoo, you must first understand what they mean.

The first thing you need to remember is that dragons aren't just limited to one culture or country.

Although the most popular mythological creatures are Chinese and Japanese dragons, dragons are prevalent all through Asia. They even have a history in the Middle East and Europe.

However, as each type of culture has its own kind of dragon, they also have their own meaning.

In China and Japan, dragons represent good luck and fortune. Due to this, they are seen as positive symbols.

They can also represent royalty and high status.

Japanese culture heavily draws from the Chinese, but they also have their own myths. The interesting thing about dragons in Japanese culture is that they can be either bad or good.

Despite this, they are typically seen as powerful creatures who are sometimes represented as deities.

In Europe, however, dragons are typically seen as evil creatures. This is largely due to the bible. Not only is a dragon mentioned in the book of Revelations, but serpents in general are seen as being a representation of the devil.

What Do Dragon Tattoos Mean Spiritually?

A dragon tattoo can mean many different things. As a result, it is all about which spiritual meaning you can ascribe to your tattoo.

More often than not, people get a dragon tattoo to represent power. This could be because you see yourself as someone who is capable of great things. Or, you could wish to manifest this part of yourself.

Your dragon tattoo could also be a symbol of trying to draw forces of good luck, good health, fortune, and success your way.

What Does a Dragon Tattoo Say About You?

Well, this can depend on the type of dragon tattoo you have chosen.

For instance, if your dragon tattoo depicts a story or a myth, you could be revealing yourself to be someone with a deep love of art, culture, and history.

If you are Asian, specifically Chinese or Japanese, this could be a form of respect for your culture.

In case the dragon is a symbol of power, you could show yourself to be someone who has a strong and powerful spirit.

If you have a red dragon tattoo that resembles the creature on the Welsh flag, you could be announcing your Welsh heritage.

As with all things, a dragon tattoo is open to interpretation. The various designs and elements you choose to use in your tattoo could reveal your true personality.

Is Dragon a Good Tattoo?

Well, this is only something you can answer yourself. As far as aesthetics go, yes, a dragon tattoo is a great piece of body art to get.

As it has such a strong historical and spiritual meaning, it is a wonderful option for anyone who wants a powerful and symbolic tattoo.

Still, for a dragon tattoo to be right, it must fit your personality and the meaning and aesthetics you would like to portray with your ink.

Does the Color of Dragon Tattoos Matter?

Interestingly enough, the color can matter if you want to get a colorful dragon tattoo. This does depend on how much stock you put in Asian beliefs, though.

For instance, black dragons may be fairly common, but they aren't considered lucky in Japanese or Chinese cultures. A black dragon tattoo might be seen as bringing bad luck and despair. In Japan, it is the color of mourning.

Recently, black has become a more neutral shade in China. Despite this, a black dragon tattoo meaning is rarely going to be a good thing, although it may look powerful.

This, of course, is unless you want your dragon done up as tribal tattoo art or in the tribal tattoo style. In this case, black ink would be the default.

Red dragon tattoos, on the other hand, are inherently seen as bringers of good luck. It is meant to bring good fortune and is featured heavily in many festivals.

A blue dragon tattoo can also be a positive thing, especially if you are going for a colorful Japanese dragon tattoo. This color depicts purity, calmness, stability, and fidelity.

So, if you are looking for colorful dragon tattoos, you should bear these things in mind.

Dragon Tattoos and Their Meanings

Here are the dragon tattoos based on various cultures and the meanings associated with them:

Chinese Dragon Tattoos

It is important to understand the Chinese dragon tattoo meaning before getting one. It has strong ties to both culture and religion.

Due to this, you have to be respectful of the origins of this magnificent creature before you get it inked on your body.

According to Chinese mythology, the Chinese dragon is believed to dwell in lakes, rivers, oceans, but roams the skies.

These Chinese dragons are associated with good luck and heavenly blessings. They also have strong ties to rain, which is why even today in Chinese culture, people will use dragons to perform rain rituals to garner good fortune.

According to Chinese culture, there are four types of dragons.

There is Tianlong, the Celestial Dragon. He guards the celestial dwellings of the Gods. Then there is Fuzanglong, the Dragon of the Hidden Treasure. You have Dilong, the Earth Dragons who control the waterways. Finally, there is Shenlong, the Spiritual Dragons who control the wind and rain.

The Earth and Spiritual dragons are seen as being the most important in China. They eventually became dragon kings who brought forth rain and protected seafarers.

In this sense, Chinese dragons symbolize power.

Some people believe that the Asian dragon represents balance. However, this is only half true.

The dragon is a representation of the yang symbol. It symbolizes maleness, activity, and the heavens. Thus, it represents only half of the balance symbol.

The opposing symbol would be a tiger which represents the opposing forces of the dragon.

If you want a Chinese dragon tattoo, you have to remember that this creature is quite different from what you would imagine a dragon to be.

According to the original mythology, they have scales resembling those of a snake, but they also have four limbs, horns, claws, and large demonic eyes. They do not have wings.

Don't simply ask your tattoo artist to give you a dragon tattoo based on Chinese myths. Instead, take a specific picture of the image so that you can get a tattoo that is culturally sensitive and historically accurate.

Chinese Dragon Art On Chest

Image by @lostattooz and theanimustattoo via Instagram

Chinese Dragon Tattoo On the Back

Image by @freshink.lisboa via Instagram

Red Chinese Dragon Tattoo

Image by @illustratedmantattoo via Instagram

Black Chinese Dragon Tattoo

Image by @carmengtattooing via Instagram

Dragon With Cherry Blossoms Tattoo

Image by @yazzink via Instagram

Chinese Brush Stroke Dragon Tattoo

Image by @winnie__waiyin via Instagram

Detailed Chinese Dragon Hand Tattoo

Image by @eyepatch.tattoo_ via Instagram

Brown Dragon Floral Tattoo

Image by @jen_ink via Instagram

Yin Yang Dragon Tattoos

As I mentioned, it is a mistake to refer to a dragon as a representation of the yin yang sign. That being said, you can get a yin yang dragon tattoo if you like.

There are a few different styles to use for your yin and yang symbol.

The most authentic way would be to have the dragon as yang and to have a tiger as the yin symbol.

Or, you can simply have two dragons depicting both sides of the yin and yang. To add a bit of variation, use two opposing colors to depict the opposing forces. Have one half as a black dragon tattoo and the other as a red dragon.

Here are some of the dragon tattoos that you can borrow from.

Yin Yang Dragon and Tiger Tattoo

Image by @kwayke via Instagram

Black Yin Yang Dragon Hand Tattoo

Image by @blindreasontattoo via Instagram

Bold Inked Dragon on the Chest

Image by @tattoo_bijeljina_pustivuk via Instagram

Yin Yang Dragon and Phoenix Bird Tattoo

Image by @imakeinkmagic via Instagram

Yin and yang symbol with dragon and snake tattoo

Image by @time4tattoo via Instagram

Black Yin Yang Tattoo Piece

Image by @andy_broadheadtattoo via Instagram

Western Dragon and Eastern Dragon Tattoo

Image by @wild_crane_tattoos_official via Instagram

The Golden Dragon

Another popular story involves the Golden dragon.

As the legend goes, there was once a group of golden koi traveling upstream, against the current. Eventually, they came to a waterfall.

Believing that they couldn't get across, some of the koi turned back, allowing themselves to be swept downstream by the force of the water.

Some in the group persevered, jumping as high as they could to try and get to the top of the waterfall. Time and time again, they failed.

A group of local demons noticed the koi trying to get to the top of the waterfall and made the waterfall even higher so that they couldn't reach the top.

Still, the koi kept trying. Eventually, after a very long time, one of the koi was able to reach the top of the waterfall.

The Gods looked favorably on the koi as its determination and perseverance allowed it to succeed. As a reward for this, they turned him into a golden dragon.

Therefore, if you are looking for cool dragon tattoo ideas, this is certainly one to consider.

The dragon tattoo meanings are all about working hard and following your dreams. Not only will you be rewarded, but you will transform yourself as a result of this perseverance.

You certainly can't ask for a more beautiful tattoo meaning.

Dragon and Koi Full Sleeve Tattoo

Image by @namakubitattoo via Instagram

Green Dragon and Koi Tattoo

Image by @renkman73 via Instagram

Koi dragon and lotus tattoo

Image by @derekchungtattoos via Instagram

Koi dragon and chrysanthemum sleeve tattoo

Image by @alan_blackjadetattoo via Instagram

Colorful Koi Dragon Hand Tattoo

Image by @mikepopetattoo via Instagram

Koi to koi dragon cover up

Image by @jonesyrisingwave via Instagram

Star of Yakuza Like a Dragon Tattoo

Image by @simonemuttitattoo via Instagram

Japanese Dragon Tattoos

If you want to get a Japanese dragon tattoo, there is just as much cultural mythology and history to understand before you get one.

The interesting thing about the Japanese dragons is that they can be symbols for both good and evil.

One of the most famous stories is where the dragon Orochi is an eight-headed and eight-tailed creature. He demanded that the Earth gods give him a daughter to eat every seven years. Eventually he was vanquished by Susanoo.

Then, there is the legend of Watatsumi, or Ryujin. He is believed to be a dragon and a water God. He is also guardian of the Shinto religion. As the story goes, any follower who fell into the water would be carried to heaven by Ryujin.

There are many tales told about Ryujin and his daughters, the dragon goddesses.

Before you get your Japanese dragon tattoos, it is important to understand what sets them apart from the Chinese dragon tattoos.

While both these dragons are wingless, the Japanese dragon tends to only have three claws on each foot while the Chinese dragons may have four or five claws.

At the same time, there is likely to be quite a bit of overlap as the Japanese dragon borrows heavily from Chinese folklore.

Once again, it is important to do your research. Make an effort to distinguish between the two dragon tattoo designs and take your tattoo artist the right image of a Japanese dragon tattoo.

The other thing to keep in mind about your Japanese dragon tattoo is how traditional images are steeped in Japanese art forms.

Therefore, if you want your dragon tattoo, and tattoo meaning to be truly authentic, you should research the art form as well.

To get you on the right path, here are the Japanese dragon tattoos you can draw inspiration from:

Black Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Image by @butch_made via Instagram

Red Dragon Hand Tattoo

Image by @ryuntattoo via Instagram

Red Dragon with Sakura Flowers

Image by @snoozy_tattoo via Instagram

Dragon battle tattoo piece

Image by @joshhurrelltattoos via Instagram

Haku Spirited Away Movie Dragon Tattoo

Image by @julie_agnes via Instagram

Black Red Japanese Tattoo

Image by @hwido_tattooer via Instagram

snake dragons with white lotus tattoo

Image by @fuki_ink via Instagram

Celtic Dragon Tattoos

Although you may associate dragons with Asian cultures, these creatures are a part of mythologies all around the world - including Irish and Scottish.

Therefore, if you want to get a Celtic dragon tattoo, you can go ahead. But what are the dragon tattoo meanings here?

According to the Celts, the dragon was created from the first living cell. This was nourished by the water and the winds. As such, it is seen as a sign of fertility.

The Celts also believed the dragon to be a symbol of the four elements - earth, wind, water, and fire. As a result, the dragon represents life, passion, vitality, enthusiasm, and courage.

There is also a link to royalty. The early kings were considered dragon kings. One of the most famous was Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur.

Keep in mind that Celtic dragons are quite different from those that appeared once Christianity had taken root.

Once Ireland and Scotland became largely Christian, dragons were considered to be enemies slain by Saints and Holy men. This is why European dragons are now a symbol of evil rather than good.

Another thing to be aware of is that they may often look like a tribal dragon tattoo. Keep in mind that there aren't actually tribal dragon tattoos. Instead, they simply have a tribal-like pattern or design.

Black Celtic Dragon Arm Tattoo

Image by @abodytattoo via Instagram

Red Celtic Dragon Tattoo

Image by @ringsandneedlesworcs via Instagram

Black and Red Celtic Dragon Tattoo

Image by @pandorasboxtattoo via Instagram

Black Celtic Dragon Tattoo Piece

Image by @ashmoretattoos86 via Instagram

Celtic Dragon Scottish Sleeve Tattoo

Image by @samjenkinsontattoos via Instagram

Pencil Sketch Dragon Tattoo

Image by @allaboutyoutattoo via Instagram

Celtic Wing Dragon Tattoo

Image by @pandorasboxtattoo via Instagram

Dragons in Literature and Pop Culture

It is easy to dismiss dragon tattoos based on pop culture or literature as having no meaning. However, this isn't the case at all.

These dragons, and the tattoos based on them, have just as much meaning as those from traditional lore.

Take Beowulf, for example. The dragon in that story isn't just a creature that represents greed. It is also described as the perfect opponent to an epic hero.

In fact, the dragon in Beowulf is so well-matched that he causes Beowulf's death despite Beowulf killing the dragon.

As you can imagine, this kind of scenario does require some reflection. Here, the dragon is a symbol of the internal or external force that must be bested but still has the power to bring you down.

Illustration of Grendel from Beowulf Tolkien Design Tattoo

Image by @jxsxhulsey via Instagram

Stipple and Dot Work Beowulf Dragon Tattoo

Image by @bu88z via Instagram

Then, there's Smaug from the Hobbit. Once again, Smaug is a representation of greed. In this case, though, Smaug's hoarding is more exemplified. At the same time, it shows how greed can not just compromise you but also cause you to hurt others.

In this case, Smaug is a reminder to be better than your base nature.

Closeup of Smaug Dragon Tattoo

Image by @cloventattoo via Instagram

The Hobbit Smaug Dragon Tattoo

Image by @peta.heffernan via Instagram

Smaug the Dragon Tattoo Piece

Image by @olga_kai_tattoo via Instagram

Then, you have the dragons from Game of Thrones. These dragons cannot be considered good or evil. They are simply creatures that can be used for either cause.

In this literary (and pop culture) phenomenon, the dragons are a symbol of power. They aid a helpless young woman in discovering her destiny. They also help her oppose forces that are much greater.

At the same time, these creatures can be used to represent the darker impulses within.

In this case, the dragons can signify your desires. It is important to be aware that the choices you make in achieving a goal will ultimately define who you are as a person.

Due to this, make your choice carefully.

Triple Dragons Chest Tattoo

Image by @dinkminimal via Instagram

Game of Thrones Dragon Tattoo

Image by @scottxhoward via Instagram

Three Black Dragons Hand Tattoo

Image by @theroxannecrisp via Instagram

Black Dracarys Tattoo

Image by @fredao_oliveira via Instagram

These dragons can resemble a Celtic dragon tattoo but will often have elements or features specified in books that set them apart as unique creatures.

Dragon and Snake Tattoos

The dragon and snake tattoo is becoming increasingly common. However, as there is no specific myth or literature surrounding this image or tattoo, the meaning is open to interpretation.

Some people see the snake and dragon being opposing forces. Others see some duality in them, with the dragon representing power and the snake representing wisdom.

Dragon and Snake Traditional Collar Tattoo

Image by @roberto_cambise_tattoo via Instagram

Black Snake and Red Dragon Hand Tattoo

Image by @wyldishbambino via Instagram

Dragon and Snake Sternum Piece

Image by @glitchjestertattoos via Instagram

Black and Grey Snake and Dragon Tattoo

Image by @bombshellink via Instagram

Black Snake and Dragon Back Tattoo

Image by @nkt.ink via Instagram

There you have it - the meaning behind dragon tattoos. Now that you are aware of what they are, it is just a matter of figuring out which one is most suitable to you.

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