What Do Tiger Tattoos Symbolize in Eastern Cultures?


Tigers represent various characteristics – virility, strength, power, arrogance, pride, passion and royalty amongst others. Tigers symbolize various things across cultures. But mainly, tigers have an important role to play in Indian, Chinese and Japanese cultures. Since tigers are such majestic animals, they are one of the top animals people wish to get tattooed on with.

Tigers in Indian Culture

They are found in the Indian subcontinent and are now an endangered species. Indians believe some of their gods used the tiger to travel on from place to place. It is a revered animal and is even considered India’s national animal. People who opt to get tiger tattoos in India hope to get some of their majesty and ferocity into themselves.

Tigers in Vietnam Culture

They were feared a lot in Vietnam and many villages had temples for Tigers as they were considered holy there. Tigers raided the villages and the Vietnamese believe that by worshiping the creature, they could save their village from its wrath. Tiger tattoos in Vietnam are used to ward off evil spirits and represent strength of character.

Tigers in Chinese Culture

Chinese believe the tiger to be the king of all animals, not the lion. Its represent the yang side of things and are associated with powerful energy. They also believe that the it is the protector of the dead, and often tigers are tattooed onto tombstones as well as a symbol that their soul will rest in peace now. Tiger tattoos in Chinese culture represent prosperity, reverence, power, energy, protection, generosity and illumination. Chinese myths say that there are five types of tigers that balance the energy in the cosmos and prevent utter chaos in the universe, these are:

  • Black Tiger – Governs the water elements of nature and rules during the winter season.
  • Blue Tiger – Governs the earth elements of nature and rules during the spring season.
  • Red Tiger – Governs the fire elements of nature and rules during the summer season.
  • White Tiger – Governs the metal elements of nature and rules during the fall season.
  • Yellow Tiger – Rules all the above tigers and is symbolic of the sun.

Tigers in Japanese Culture

Even though they are rarely found in Japan, they play a very important role in Japanese arts. Tiger tattoos represent different things in the different ages of Japanese culture. They gained dominance in the Edo period of Japan, where the Japanese men were struggling to form a name for them. Since Japanese artists dint have exact sightings of tigers, their art can be very abstract and unique. In Japan, they represent dominance, aggression or goal orientation.

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Source by Marvick Zack