Chinese Tattoo Symbols

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Chinese symbol tattoo

 

Chinese symbols tattoos have been very popular in the Western world the last decade or so, and they still are today. Chinese characters are beautiful little pieces of art, exotic and mysterious, and very suitable for a tattoo design.

These symbol tattoos are only done by Westerners, you'll seldom see a Chinese with a character tattoo. The opposite is going on though... In China it's trendy nowadays to get an English text tattoo, usually full of spelling mistakes. That being said, the art and writing of the traditional Chinese culture have graceful lines which lend themselves perfectly to the art of tattooing.

Chinese design meaning snake

Chinese character tattoo design meaning 'Snake'

A word of warning: research the Chinese symbols you are interested in thoroughly, you don't want to be the subject of a story like this one:

 

There was this article in the newspaper a couple of years ago about a teenager who paid $180 to have his arm tattooed with Chinese characters. He wanted the Mandarin characters for "Love, honor and obey" etched on his skin, but he got quite a shock when he learned his Chinese tattoo really meant: "At the end of the day, this is an ugly boy". He found out the truth when he noticed the effect his tattoo had on a woman serving at a Chinese restaurant, who reluctantly translated the tattoo for him. Going back to the tattoo shop, he found out it had closed...

 

If you are thinking about getting a Chinese writing tattoo, make sure you get your translation from a reliable source so the design really means what you think it does.

Also, make sure that the tattoo artist you select is able to reproduce the translation correctly. Find a tattoo artist who has had experience with Chinese character tattoos and can render the writing correctly.


Hanzi

Chinese tattoos

Chinese character tattoo meaning "Snake"

Hanzi is the name for the traditional Chinese characters used in the official written language of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Chinese communities out of China.

There are about 47,000 Hanzi characters, but many of them are unused (to be fully literate, you need to know about 4000 of them). Most Chinese words are written with multiple characters, one for each syllable.

Besides traditional Chinese there is also Simplified Chinese, an attempt to increase literacy in China. Simplified Chinese characters have less number of strokes than traditional Chinese. They are used in mainland China, Malaysia and Singapore.

Here's an example, on the left (in black) is the traditional Chinese character for "Chinese", next to it (in red) is the simplified character:

Chinese characters

 

300 Tattoo Symbols

Here are the most popular Chinese symbols used for a tattoo and their meaning. The pronunciation of the words is between brackets. If your word is not in the list below, click here for a Chinese translation (it's also possible to transliterate names into Chinese symbols).

Here's the top 10 of most used Chinese tattoo symbols:

  1. Love
  2. Strength
  3. Family
  4. Strange
  5. Luck
  6. Soldier
  7. Peace
  8. Twins
  9. Fire
  10. Sister

 

- Air (Kōng qì) -

Air

- Angel (Tiān shǐ) -

Angel

- Anger (Fèn nù) -

anger

- Aquarius (Bǎo Píng Zuò) -

aquarius

- Bamboo (Zhú) -

bamboo

- Beauty (Měi) -

beauty

- Believe (Xiāng xìn) -

believe

- Bravery (Yīng Yǒng) -

bravery

- Brothers (Xiōng dì) -

brothers

- Younger Brother (dì dì) -

younger brother

- Elder Brother (gē gē) -

elder brother

- Buddha (Fó) -

courage

- Chi (Qì) -

crane

- Child (Ér tóng) -

child

- Courage (Yǒng qì) -

courage

- Crazy (Fēng kuáng) -

crazy

- Crisis (Wéi jī) -

crisis

- Death (Sǐwáng) -

death

- Dragon (Lóng) -

dragon

- Enthusiasm (Rè chén) -

enthusiasm

- Eternity (Yǒng héng) -

eternity

- Faith (Xìn yǎng) -

faith

- Family (Jiā tíng) -

family

- Fate (Mìng yùn) -

fate

- Father (Fù qīn) -

father

- Fire (Huǒ) -

fire

- Fish (Yú) -

fish

- Forever (Yǒng yuǎn) -

forever

- Forgiven (Yuán liàng) -

forgiven

- Fortune (Yùn qì) -

fortune

- Fox (Hú lí) -

fox

- Freedom (Zì yóu) -

freedom

- Friend (Péng yǒu) -

friend

- Friendship Forever (Yǒu yì cháng cún) -

friendship forever

- Friendship (Yǒu Qìng) -

friendship

- Gemini (Shuāng zǐ zuò) -

gemini

- Good Luck (Xìng yùn) -

good luck

- Happiness (Xìng fú) -

happiness

- Harmony (Hé Shéng) -

harmony

- Hate (Hèn) -

hate

- Health (Jiàn kāng) -

health

- Heaven (Tiān táng) -

heaven

- Hope (Xī wàng) -

hope

- Independence (Dú lì) -

independence

- Infinity (Wú Xìan) -

infinity

- Inner Strength (Nèi zài de lì liàng) -

inner strength

- Joy (Kuài lè) -

joy

- Karma (Yīn Yuàn) -

karma

- Koi Fish (Jǐn lǐ Yú) -

koi fish

- Libra (Tiān chèng zuò) -

libra

- Love (Ài) -

love

- Loyalty (Zhōng chéng) -

loyalty

- Luck (Yùn qì) -

luck

- Lucky (Xìng yùn de) -

lucky

- Marriage (hūn yīn) -

marriage

- Miracle (Qí jī) -

miracle

- Mother (Mǔ qīn) -

mother

- Passion (Jī qíng) -

passion

- Peace (Hé píng) -

peace

- Pride (Zì háo) -

pride

- Scorpio (Tiān xiē zuò) -

scorpio

- Serendipity (ǒu rán xìng) -

serendipity

- Sisters (Jiěmèi) -

sisters

- Younger Sister (mèi mèi) -

youinger sister

- Elder Sister (Jiě Jiě) -

elder sister

- Soldier (Shì bīng) -

soldier

- Soul (Línghún) -

soul

- Strength (lì liáng) -

strength

- Strong (Qiáng) -

strong

- Taurus (Jīn niú zuò) -

taurus

- Tiger (Lǎo  Hǔ) -

tiger

- Tree (shù) -

tree

- True Love (zhí ài) -

true love

- Truth (Zhēn lǐ) -

truth

- Unbreakable (Láo bù kě pò) -

unbreakable

- Warrior (Zhàn shì) -

warrior

- Water (Shuǐ) -

water

- Wealth (Cái fù) -

wealth

- Yin Yang (Yīn yáng) -

Yin Yang

- Zen (Shàn) -

Zen

 

Here are 9 more pages full of Chinese symbols:

 

Click to enlarge...

Chinese Tattoo Symbols Chinese symbols for tattoos Chinese symbols
Chinese character tattoos Chinese writing Chinese symbol tattoos
Chinese character tattoos Chinese tattoo writing Chinese symbols
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Famous Chinese Tattoos

Here's a list of celebrities with a Chinese symbol tattoo:

  • Allen Iverson: basketball player with about 20 tattoos. He's got the Chinese character for respect on his arm and loyal on his neck.

    Allen Iverson's Chinese neck tattoo meaning Loyal

  • Mary J Blige: R&B star with the Chinese character for strength on her right hand.
  • Sher: also has strength, but on her right shoulder.
  • Melanie Brown (Mel B): Spice Girl with a Chinese character on her belly and a dragon tattoo on her back.
  • Natalie Imbruglia: singer with a Chinese character tattoo on her left foot, meaning courage.

    Natalie Imbruglia's foot tattoo meaning Courage

  • Julia Roberts: has a red heart inside a Chinese character, meaning strength of heart, but this tattoo has been removed.
  • Kiefer Sutherland: has a tattoo of a Chinese character meaning undying love.
  • Tila Tequila: has got 2 Chinese characters on her neck and one on her right wrist.
  • David Beckham: has a Chinese proverb on the left side of his body: "'Death and life have determined appointments. Riches and honour depend upon heaven."

Once again: Chinese writing tattoos are a great choice for a tasteful tattoo, but make sure you do your research properly!

 

 You are also interested in our Japanese Tattoo Symbols...

 

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