Chinese Symbol Tattoos

Originally the Chinese tattoo was considered the mark of a criminal as anyone found guilty of a crime was tattooed on his face so that everyone would know of his character. Even today a person with a tattoo in China may be someone from the underground, although tattoos are considered a part of popular culture in most places.

Chinese symbol tattoo is the new “in thing” in America and other western countries. One reason is the popularity of the recent movies featuring martial arts. As the world grows smaller and we learn about our neighbours in other lands via the Internet, a lot of curiosity is being generated about all things Chinese. Tattoo design using Chinese symbols and sayings are very beautiful and many young people want to put them permanently on their bodies. That is why we are seeing so many beautiful Chinese tattoo pictures on many bodies. Many tattoo artists work very hard to make professional looking and eye-capturing tattoo designs; some of them are the zodiac tattoos which are rich in symbolism.

We can look at this popular practice from another angle: some Asians view westerners, especially those from the US, using a Chinese tattoo picture as practicing racism. They view the young people as wanting to emulate the “coolness” of the culture but not wanting to treat their Asian neighbours as equals. Someone in this frame of mind is likely to look on the tattoo design as not as captivating as the wearer does. This may be true in some cases but certainly not all. Mostly it’s done because it’s popular and the proud new tattoo owner is probably more guilty of being thoughtless than actually racist.

Many tattoo designs are done in Kanji, meaning they are really Japanese tattoo. More specifically it uses Chinese symbols translated or modified into Japanese. There are many warnings on the web about knowing what you’re doing before you get a Chinese tattoo or a Japanese tattoo. For example find a saying that translates well into the characters or use an actual saying from the language. In any event find out for sure that the symbol really means what you want it to. Also there are different “fonts” in the characters, just as we have a variety of fonts for typing in our word processing programs. You will want something that isn’t the equivalent of a young child’s writing since it is to become a permanent part of your body, and you want your tattoo picture to look like a work of art. Some of the most simple, yet beautiful designs are the Chinese zodiac tattoo symbols. Each one represents the symbolic animal for the lunar period.

A number of NBA basketball stars are sporting Chinese symbol tattoos. One of these men is Marcus Camby. His tattoo design takes up most of his right arm and the symbols mean “Strive for the clan, the family”. He wanted to reflect the things that matter in his life such as the love of his family and the fact that he always strives to do his best. Allen Iverson, another NBA player has numerous tattoos, one of which is a Chinese tattoo consisting of the symbol for loyalty. Allegedly not all of the tattooed NBA players took such care and their tattoos are considered by some artists to be not at all artistic. Some estimates say that 35 percent of NBA players are sporting some kind of Chinese tattoo, including Chinese zodiac tattoos, somewhere on their bodies.

A number of other celebrities also have a Chinese symbol tattoo or a Chinese tattoo picture. Among them are Freddie Prinz, Junior., Adrian Pasdar, Robin Quivers, Kevin Richardson, Marit Safin, and Julia Roberts.


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