Dragon sleeve tattoo | Artist: David Sena | Shop: Senaspace Art Gallery, New York
The Meaning of a dragon tattoo
Probably one of the most iconic choices in Japanese tattoos, the dragon has been found in Buddhist, Shinto, and East Asian art and folklore for years. Zen temples in Japan often have huge murals of dragons on the ceiling of their large meeting halls. Dragons can represent strength, good fortune, courage and wisdom. Dragons are strongly linked to wind but mostly water and are often illustrated with waves in traditional Japanese tattoos. Hence why Japanese fire-fighters in the Edo period were often shown sporting dragon tattoos. Other distinctions include the three toes on Japanese dragons, as opposed to five toes on Chinese dragons, sometimes seen clutching a round jewel.
Dragons and tigers can be paired together in tattoos – usually in conflict due to their opposing nature. Dragons can be tattooed in many different colors: red, black, green, white, blue, or yellow. Each color usually represents a dragon from a different areas or sea with a variety of different qualities.