Dragons – powerful, colorful, fire-breathing, winged, whiskered – have long been the choice of both men and women for a tattoo. No matter the representation, these mythical beasts have continued to hold the fascination of people worldwide for centuries. The ancient history of dragons goes back to Japanese and Chinese cultural beliefs as well as European lore.
The cultures of both East and West included the dragon in many pieces of art as well as practical items. Which style you most identify with – Eastern or Western – will have much to do with how you wish a dragon to be depicted on your body.
Photo by “Elegant Machines” on Flickr
Oriental dragons are usually the most detailed. They include curved whiskers, colorful scales, and are often breathing fire from a sharp-toothed mouth. European dragons most closely resemble a griffon with their wings, forked tail, and more muscular bodies.
Photo by “Chi Bart” on Flickr
Some truly amazing artwork goes into creating the most detailed dragon tattoos of either style. Usually people use a dragon as the opportunity to include a lot of vivid color in their body art, yet these mythical creatures can look quite striking when done in tonal hues or in simple black and white. Many tattoos incorporate other elements to show a different side of the dragon – anything from hearts and flowers to swords and mountain scenery. The dragon looks equally good as a realistic depiction or cartoon character – your personality will dictate your preference.
Photo by “MizGingerSnaps” on Flickr
Because dragons require a lot of detail (unless they more closely resemble the European-style griffon), they are best inked on broad expanses of skin such as the back, shoulders, arms, or chest. With a long tail, they are ideal to wrap around an arm or leg. Stretch them out and the roaring head can be etched onto a shoulder with the tip of the tail reaching down the thigh. Use your imagination and have fun designing your dragon tattoo.