The Symbolism and Styles of Dragon Tattoos

Dragons are mythological creatures that appear in legends, fairy tales and modern fantasy stories. They are often depicted as having a lizard's torso, head and limbs, with bat wings to allow them to fly. Some types of dragon have been described as being snake-like, wingless or having multiple heads. Dragons are a popular tattoo design because this versatile creature can be worn anywhere on the body and can be inked into the skin in a variety of sizes and styles.

The Symbolism of Dragon Tattoos

The symbolism of dragon tattoos differs according to which culture the dragon belongs to. For example, ancient Mesopotamia was filled with tales of ferocious dragons that were overcome by a courageous warrior, so the Mesopotamian dragon is a symbol of evil, menace and danger. In the Chinese animal hierarchy, the Chinese dragon is the highest ranking animal; a symbol of power and majesty.
Most dragons depicted in modern fantasy novels are large reptilian creatures with armor-plated hides and fearful talons. The overall effect is a creature that is a personification of war, freedom and power. In fantasy novels, dragons are often described as being intelligent and proud.
Dragon tattoo designs are often created to have a personal meaning for the owner of the tattoo. By combining the dragon with other symbols, a highly personal meaning can be given to the tattoo.

An Ouroboros is a circular symbol that shows a serpent (snake or dragon) biting its own tail. Although it seem like a self-defeating act for a dragon to eat itself, it is actually a symbol of eternity and wholeness. The Ouroboros (also spelled Uroborus) appears in Norse mythology as Jomungandr, a sea serpent that grew so large that it encircled the Earth and swallowed its own tail. It became known as the World Serpent. [source]

This black and white dragon tattoo fits perfectly onto this guy's back, with each wing spread out towards his shoulder blades. The design includes symbols of violence an evil: the tattooed wings have sharp points and the dragon is growling with knife-like teeth. This dragon tattoo has elements of Gothic fantasy and is likely a display of the tattoo owner's interest in these genres. [source]

A cute cartoon tattoo of a baby dragon. The tattoo designer has combined a number of symbols in this unusual tattoo design. Because the dragon is a baby, it is a symbol of future potential. The cuteness of the tattoo design symbolizes innocence and fun, and yet because the tattoo design shows a dragon, it is a symbol of power and potential violence. [source]

Chinese dragon tattoos symbolize power, majesty and grace and are often inked as a large back tattoo. Chinese dragon tattoo designs usually have whiskers and facial hair.The design generally includes a variety of organic shapes and curves, making it an ideal tattoo subject as the design compliments the natural curves of the body. [source]

How to Choose a Dragon Tattoo Design

Because tattoos are forever, you should choose your tattoo design carefully. It is also wise to go to a tattoo artist who has years of experience and is known for producing high quality work. Although you can choose a dragon tattoo design from a book or by searching online, it is often best to ask the tattoo artist to design a dragon tattoo specifically for you. That way, your tattoo will be unique to you and the design can incorporate symbols, names or phrases that have a personal meaning to you.
If you are wanting a colorful, detailed dragon tattoo, it is best to have it inked quite large, so that the dragon is visible and easy to discern. If you would prefer a small dragon tattoo, consider a design that uses a celtic or tribal style. These tattoo styles are clear and crisp so a small dragon tattoo won't seem like a blob of ink on the skin. 

This tattoo design combines a Celtic knot and a dragon, creating an attractive tattoo that uses elements from ancient European mythology and modern fantasy. Tattoos like this one can be used as a way to celebrate a person's family heritage and ancestors. [source]

A tattoo of the Welsh dragon that appears on the flag of Wales. In this tattoo design, the dragon has climbed down from the flags in the background and instead stands in front of the flags and the feathered crown that stand in the background. A tattoo like this symbolizes patriotism, loyalty and strength. The red Welsh dragon is believed to have been the heraldic symbol of King Arthur and other Celtic kings, appearing on their flags in a similar form as the dragon above. [source]

A tribal dragon tattoo that shows three dragon heads joined at the neck in an intricate knot. The clean lines of tribal tattoo designs mean that they can easily be seen from far away, and can be tattooed at much smaller sizes than highly detailed color tattoos. [source]

This cute tattoo design shows a pretty dragon with colorful butterfly wings. Although the colors of the body contrast nicely with the colors on the wings, the pose of the dragons body doesn't create a clear silhouette. Butterflies usually represent femininity, whilst dragons symbolize masculinity. This dragon butterfly tattoo design is an interesting combination of male and female aspects. [source]

This upper back tattoo uses only the dragon's wings as the tattoo design. The result makes it seems as though the tattoo owner is sprouting dragon wings. [source]

Read More on Art-Sci: