On many occasions we have talked to you about tattoos : in fact in previous posts dedicated to the topic we have given you useful information on: the origins of this fashion so popular among young people, Polynesian tattoos , the most beautiful oriental tattoos and we then dedicated a post to the most fashionable male and female tattoos . Today, however, we will talk about Chinese tattoos , and specifically we will talk about the origins of Chinese tattoos and the most beautiful ones.

Chinese tattoos: the origins

What are the origins of the Chinese tattoo?

The Chinese tattoo , as well as in Japan, was initially born to identify the members of a clan belonging to organized crime , as well as those belonging to the lower classes of the time , represented by convicts, slaves and prostitutes. This practice remained unchanged for some time, and specifically until the beginning of the last century, when  the art of Chinese tattooing developed in the Western world, becoming a real fashion.

In ancient literature there is already talk of Chinese tattoos: in Marco Polo’s Million , for example, the inhabitants of China are described with drawings and symbols imprinted on the body, also describing the methods of execution, which involved the use of a needle.

Chinese tattoos were also important for warriors , who used to tattoo symbols of good luck and intimidation towards their challengers before a battle. Finally, some of these tattooed large symbols on the body in order to demonstrate their ability to bear physical pain.

Chinese symbols: meaning of the most beautiful tattoos

Chinese tattoos all have their own history and their own very specific meaning. In this paragraph we will describe the main Chinese symbols with their meaning. Let’s see them now!

Yin & Yang

One of the best known and most famous Chinese tattoos ever is the Yin & Yang , literally black and white.

This Chinese symbol originates in ancient Eastern philosophy, in the observation of the succession of day and night, also at the basis of ancient Eastern religions, such as Taoism and Confucianism .

Its meaning is linked to the concept of good and evil.

It is one of the most popular Chinese tattoos ever, to be tattooed practically anywhere on your body.

Dj C Sar, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Chinese ideograms

Among the most loved Chinese tattoos we have ideograms, with which we want to communicate our mood, our character or simply something that is close to our heart. Many prefer to tattoo the initials of their name or that of their loved ones.

The favorite areas for tattooing a Chinese ideogram are the wrists, ankles and hands.

The Dragon

Among the most famous Chinese tattoos of all time there is that of the dragon . This is an important symbol of Chinese culture, which is associated with wisdom, strength and longevity. It is linked to the dragon’s ability to give life but also to deny it with his strength. It is one of the signs of the ancient Chinese horoscope , which indicates people with a strong personality, with a great desire to show off and courageous.

In the oriental tradition, there are several forms of dragon tattoo:

  • Dragon and snake, according to Chinese tradition, are sworn enemies, and represent the contrast between modern and ancient, science and superstition;
  • Fairy and Dragon, to highlight the union of male and female strength;
  • Butterfly and Dragon, symbolizing the power of nature with its natural balance;
  • Dragon in flight, symbolizes the desire not to give up even in the face of difficulties;
  • Fire-breathing dragon,  symbolizing passion, strength, the ability to create and destroy at will;

The dragon is usually tattooed on the shoulders, back, but also on the arm, on the calf and as you can see from the image, also on the female belly.


Another very tattooed symbol is the bat . This is a lucky symbol, which also symbolizes the pursuit of happiness. When we tattoo 5 bats, they mean 5 different types of happiness: peace, long life, wealth, love, happy death. The areas where this animal is tattooed are usually arms and legs .

The tiger

Another mythical Chinese tattoo, always tattooed by men and women and the tiger. This animal is also present within the ancient Chinese horoscope, representing power, passion, strength, sensuality.

It is a symbol loved by all oriental cultures, it represented a custom and was painted to ward off evil spirits.

According to the Chinese horoscope, people born under the sign of the tiger are endowed with magnetic personality, authority and independence. They are also charismatic and proud people.

If you are looking for a tattoo idea , the tiger is a very powerful symbol, usually to be tattooed on the arm or even on the leg / calf.

Chinese tattoo advice

What are the useful tips to follow for tattooing a symbol of Chinese origin?

First of all, you need to know that all Chinese tattoos have a very specific meaning, which you need to find out about before tattooing them.

In general, Chinese tattoos must express belonging, identity, one of the traits of one’s character or a purely symbolic meaning. For example , ideograms in the past identified membership in a group or family. The symbols of the zodiac or nature instead indicate traits of one’s character / personality.

Chinese symbols are therefore linked to a message that we want to send to those who see it or remind us of something particular. In this regard, precisely because you are dealing with a culture different from ours, it is always good to inquire before getting any symbol or ideogram tattooed. 

It might be a good idea, for example, to have a Chinese translate the meaning of the writing, in order to avoid walking around with a tattoo that has no meaning, such as the news that appeared in many tourist newspapers. that while traveling he had the words “Life and a chicken” tattooed, which made him grin so much, or worse, it has a derogatory meaning.