Of all the subjects for tattoos, dragons are the most enduring and distinctive.
While women tend to like baby (smaller) dragons on their shoulder or foot, men prefer larger, fiercer dragons to be tattooed on their arms, shoulder, backs or legs. They are one of the few popular tattoo subjects which can extend up an arm or down a leg without looking distorted or contrived. The dragon design can also be used for armbands. At the end of this article you will find all the recommended web sites for the latest tattoo dragon designs.
The popularity of dragon tattoos is partly due to the number of fresh and exciting designs now available, but also due to the sharp, projecting elements of the dragon’s fangs, wings and claws which modern tattoo artists can now produce successfully, to give clean and striking definition to the tattoo image. When Kwai Chang Caine picked up the red hot dragon bowl in ‘Kung Fu’ using his forearms, thus imprinting himself with the dragon and tiger brand of the Shaolin Temple, he could not have received a dragon symbol half as sharp and striking as anyone can receive nowadays in a modern tattoo parlor, and without the pain.
So why would anyone want to have a tattoo dragon? Isn’t the dragon a mythical creature, created by the writers of legends and drawn from the minds of unreliable artists over the ages? Surely modern men and women are far beyond belief in such animals, unlike the medieval cartographers who lettered ‘Here be Dragons’ on the vague outlines of the unknown lands on the edges of their maps and charts, as a warning to the unwary.
It’s not enough just to assume that modern tattoo subjects think that a dragon has a ‘cool shape’. So do giraffes, humming birds and stick insects, but you don’t see many of those when the shirts come off at summer parties.
Dragons have a place in both eastern and western history and culture which gives a clue to their popularity. Dragons are always large, powerful and dangerous, and people who have dragon tattoos likely feel that yes, they are a bit like that too. In stories dragons are often imbued with some magical or supernatural power, far beyond that of ordinary animals. They can also talk in riddles, they can fly, and they are usually almost invulnerable, qualities which any human would be happy to acquire.
Dragons also have hoards of money and jewels, again an attractive characteristic which any modern urbanite would love to imitate.
People born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon (every twelve years, the next being in 2012) are considered to be brave, energetic and trustworthy. In western culture, from ‘The Hobbit’ by J. R. R. Tolkein to ‘Earthsea’ by Ursula K. Le Guin to the ‘Shrek’ movies, dragons are powerful, greedy and fascinating. They are tremendous as friends and fearful as enemies.
It is well known that from prehistoric times right through to relatively modern tribal societies that people would adopt a creature as theirs, the symbol of their clan, and so hope to acquire some of its power. The tattoo dragons that modern people love to have on their bodies are simply a manifestation of the urge to be bigger, better and stronger than the rest.
So where are all the best tattoo dragon designs to be found? To see all the top tattoo design galleries, see the comprehensive resources at the tattoos page at kintraw.com.
Scott Kintraw likes to get under the surface of modern popular culture.