Japanese Tiger Tattoos

Interested in a tiger tattoo from Japan? Discover the age old traditions associated with Japanese tiger tattoos.

The symbol of the tiger holds an important place in the cultural history of Japanese arts. The image of the tiger is most formidably found in the various tattoo designs from different periods in Japan. An interesting thing to note however is that the tiger is an animal rarely found in the country.

Although there have been instances of sighting tigers here and there the Japanese artists had no real exposure to the animal that could allow them to draw tigers by observing them. So how did the tiger become such a prominent part of the Japanese tattoo culture?

Well, firstly the Japanese had exposure to skins of tigers. They pictured a full rounded animal just by looking at the skin and drew the animal through their imagination. This is the reason why you find distorted features on the tiger in Japanese art. Over time the distorted image of the tiger began to be known as Japanese classic and hence caught on as fashion. Bulging eyes, smaller than usual ears, flat nose and huge paws were some of the exaggerations found in Japanese tiger tattoo designs.

Another source that the Japanese tattoo artists used for the purpose of generating tiger art was the Chinese paintings. Since the tiger is commonly found in China hence it was commonly found in their artwork. By taking the various Chinese tiger art work as a work of reference the Japanese were able to create their own line of tiger art.

The rise of the trend of tattooing began towards the end of the Edo period. This was the time when the common man was establishing a place for him self in society. The tattoo artists of that time took inspiration from the wood cut blocks that featured tigers. Many of these woodcut blocks are still used as reference today when it comes to tiger tattoo designs.

Tiger Tattoo Designs

The representation of the tiger takes various forms when it comes to tattoo designs. You will find extremely realistic tiger tattoo designs the realism of which even outstrips that of the Chinese paintings. On the other hand you will find highly abstracted symbolic images of the tiger.

The tiger is often caught in some sort of movement which influences the meaning that the tattoo design generates. For example a tiger lashing out with its claws shows aggressiveness whereas a tiger calmly poised over a rock shows dominance. Similarly a top view of the tiger spawning towards a prey shows goal orientation and focus.

In itself the tiger and people born in the year of the tiger are attributed with certain qualities. Inadvertently the tiger tattoo designs are also known to carry the same symbolic meaning. Dominance and power are the obvious traits that the image of the tiger reflects. At the same time the tiger is known to be sensitive and loving towards his dear ones. Stubbornness and short temper are also part and parcel of the tiger’s personality.

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