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10 Japanese Tattoo Designs' Meaning From Past Until Nowadays


Jason Wang |

The Japanese tattoo "Irezumi" symbol. Before the Edo period (1600-1868) in Japan, tattoos all over the world were done with marks and symbols rather than imagery. In Japan during the Edo period, ' decorative' tattoos began to develop into the high art form that is known today. The traditional Japanese tattoo, 'Irezumi', decorates the body with mythical beasts, flowers, leaves and other images from stories, myths and tales. The impetus for the development of the art was the advancement of woodcut prints, particularly 'heroes heavily decorated with Irezumi'. Wearing the Irezumi was a 'wish' to achieve a life goal. Woodcut artists began tattooing, using many of the same tools as they did to build their prints, including chisels, round chisels and, most importantly, a unique ink tattoo known as Nara ink, or Nara black, where the ink is famous for turning blue-green under the skin, which is the true face of the tattoo. There is scholarly debate as to who wore these elaborate tattoos. Some scholars say that the tattoos were of the lower classes. Others claim that wealthy merchants were forbidden by law to wear expensive Irezumi under their clothes to show off their wealth. What is certain is that Irezumi was associated with firemen and worn proudly by them, the brave image and roguish sensuality wearing them as a form of spiritual aid and protection, hence the revered 'Huron suits' that empowered the wind and water. Modern Japanese tattoos At the beginning of the Meiji '1869' period, the Japanese government outlawed tattoos to enhance its image and make a good impression on the West, and Irezumi had criminal connotations. However, fascinated foreigners travelled to Japan to seek the skills of tattoo artists, and traditional tattooing continued to be practised underground. There is a story that King Edward VII of England hired a Japanese tattoo artist to tattoo a dragon on his forearm and then sent the tattoo artist to New England to have his friends in America tattooed as a gift of goodwill and friendship. Tattooing was legalised by the occupying forces in 1945 but retained its criminal image. For many years, traditional Japanese tattoos were associated with Japan's notorious Mafia gangsters, and many businesses in Japan (such as public bathhouses, fitness centres and spas) still forbid tattooed customers. Specialised tattoo artists still do traditional Irezumi (an art form in its own right). It is painful, very time consuming and expensive: the typical classic leotard (vest or jacket, long or short sleeves, long trousers or shorts, traditionally leaving no room for tattoos in the centre of the body) takes an average of one to five years of weekly visits to complete, suggesting that a heavy Irezumi person will finish what they started and will be respected for it, and the images in a person's Irezumi can be viewed to see what that person desires. Japanese Tattoo Symbolism Japanese tattoo meanings - the following is a brief description of the most common symbols used in oriental style tattoos. However, the art of putting these symbols together will determine the ultimate and personal meaning behind the tattooed piece. Make sure your tattoo artist specialises in this style and that they have a fundamental understanding of these symbols. Otherwise, you may end up (as I have seen many times) with the "upside-down joke" koi, representing your failure for the rest of your life. ryu1 The Dragon (Dragon) In the West, a greedy, fire-breathing, cave-dwelling, fearsome creature jealously guards its treasures. The Japanese dragon tattoo, however, symbolises something very different. The Oriental dragon is equally at home in the air or the water. It usually embodies wisdom, strength and the power to manipulate the universe for the benefit of humanity. The face of the oriental dragon is usually not that of one creature but many and can vary from dragon to dragon. A dragon can manifest the features of animals it has encountered throughout its life. The eyes can be those of a demon or a rabbit, the ears of a cow, the neck and belly of a snake, the horns of a deer and the scales of a koi. Its hands or claws come from a hawk or eagle; it has saliva and perfumed breath and sounds like the musical sound of brass bells or brass pots. The Asian dragon is often the bearer of esoteric blessings. Like other Oriental tattoo designs, dragons are often chosen for their desire for great qualities of goodness, wisdom and strength. When a dragon is seen with coloured scales, it is considered to be at least 500 years old; younger dragons have not yet acquired or developed coloured scales, and if the dragon lives up to 1000 years, it can grow colourful feathers, similar to the wings of the Japanese phoenix. Furthermore, the Oriental dragon is not often a cunning, vicious beast. Instead, it is a combination of strength and wisdom and is usually benevolent. The dragon's choice is sometimes a result of a desire for integrity and the quality of learning. The dragon may also hold an object in one claw, which takes a ball, pearl or gemstone, also known as the 'closed lotus form', which is essentially the essence of the universe to control wind, rain, fire and even the planets. This item is virtually found in various Buddhist designs, including temples and tombstones. It represents the spiritual essence of the universe, through which the dragon controls and protects it from those who might usurp these powers. koi-tattoo Koi (carp) What may surprise many Westerners is the wealth of ancient mythology surrounding these beautiful fish in the East and the high status they hold there. More than just a colourful collector's fish, the Koi is one of the most popular and beautiful subjects for stories, myths, tales and tattoos, a beauty that belies its symbolism. Although originating in China, the Koi is now widespread in Japan because of its masculine qualities. It is said to climb waterfalls bravely, and if caught, it will lie in wait for the sword on the anvil, without trembling, like a warrior facing a sword. Ultimately, the stoic fish is associated with so many masculine and positive qualities that it is used in Japan's annual 'Boys' Day'. Even today, colourful koi flags are traditionally displayed for each son in the family. In tattoo imagery, especially in combination with flowing water, it symbolises the same courage, control and ability to achieve goals while understanding the trials of life". Dragon Gate Waterfall (Dragon Gate) A theme dating back to ancient China is that any koi that successfully climbs the waterfall at the 'Dragon Gate' on the 'Yellow River will become a dragon. According to that legend, it became a symbol of secular ideals and progress. Not all Koi go to the Dragon Gate, and not all Koi are hardy; there are other stories. Another famous story is that a giant koi killed a fisherman from a small village, only to be killed by a boy from the town, making the boy a hero, often translated as "golden boy", a folk hero in Japanese folklore as "Kintaro". tora-tattoo TORA (Tiger) Considered by the Chinese to be the head of the land animals, it represents strength, courage and longevity. The tiger is also said to ward off bad luck, disease and demons. In many old prints, you will see the tiger fighting the demon (Oni) on the side of 'Shoki', The Demon queller. The tiger is one of the four divine beasts and symbolises the north, representing the autumn season and the season of controlling the winds. karashishi-tattoo KARASHISHI (Fortunate Dog/Poodle) The Asian Foo Dog is also known as the 'Lion of the Buddha', a much more accurate name as it is a lion and not a dog. They are also known as Foo Dogs, Foo Dogs, Foo Lions, Foo Lions, Lion Dogs, Karashishi and Shi-Shi Dogs. They are widely used in Asian art, sculpture and, of course, tattoos. But the lion of Buddha is probably not a Buddhist. The local Shinto religion in Japan predates Buddhism and has a lion protector with a redhead to ward off evil spirits and bring health and wealth. Whatever their origins, blessed lions are essentially protective, strong and brave. It is even said that when they were cubs, their mothers would throw them off cliffs so that only the strongest would survive. Foo Dogs often appear in pairs, placed at gated entrances, for example, sitting but ready to go. The Foo Dog on the right is usually male, with mouth open (to allow evil to vent) and one front paw resting on a sphere, which is often carved as an open lattice, representing heaven and Buddhism as a whole. On the left is the female, mouth closed (to prevent evil from entering), paw resting on a tiny cub, usually upside down on its back, representing the earth. Often in tattoos, the Foo Lion comes crawling aggressively, up and down the arm or leg to protect the wearer and the desire for heroic powers and ideas. With their pointed ears and curly but soft mane, they indeed resemble dogs. More likely, this similarity has led to widespread confusion about these animals (also known as Chinese lions or even poodles). But this similarity is fortuitous since almost all knowledge of real lions are second-hand from the Asian artists who created them. Their knowledge is second-hand, for although dogs abound worldwide, lions were never native to the East. fenix-a-tattoo Hour (Phoenix) It is probably the essential bird in mythology, with its unparalleled splendour and immortality gained by rising from its ashes. Its name comes from the Greek word for 'red', the colour of fire, and it originally came from Ethiopia, where it is thought to appear only once every 500 years. In ancient China, the phoenix bird united yin and yang and was used to symbolise marriage. In ancient Rome, it was decorated on coins to represent the perseverance of the empire. In some versions of its story, it flies to distant lands to gather fragrant herbs, returns to the altar, sets them alight, and burns itself to ashes three days later. In other versions, as the time of its death approaches, it builds a nest of fragrant branches in which it will burn, using only the heat of its own body. The tattooed phoenix was completed at various times during its existence, and therefore did not always catch fire! However, regardless of the details of its origin, life or death, it becomes a symbol of the immortal soul, resurrection and immortal life, and one of the triumphs and rebirths of this life. oni-tattoo Ghosts (demons) Ghosts, or demons with horns, are a popular image in Japanese tattoo artwork today. They are probably the most common spectral creature in Japanese cosmology and are often depicted as greedy, violent and cruel. Almost always horned, their faces can vary greatly, resembling Noh theatre masks, and are usually pink, red or blue-grey. Generally, ghosts are terrifying supernatural creatures depicted as guardians of the Buddhist Hell, where they act as demons of tormentors, carrying out the punishment of the Queen of Hell on souls who find themselves condemned for their evil deeds in life. Also as mischief-makers, devourers of human victims, hunters of sinners, and messengers of disease and epidemics. Wind (the god fujin) and thunder (the god of thunder), the loom of the ominous cloud above the summit, are usually depicted as Oni, seeing that the Oni are not evil but perform duties and give their deeds through powerful gods and forces. Although fujin and Raijin can be depicted using forms other than the typical oni form. In many stories, the fujin is an all-powerful ghost, considered a demon king, who can be portrayed as powerful and self-absorbed but can still be overpowered by a moral force or deity when necessary to rebalance an out-of-balance society or clan. However, there is also a tradition in ancient stories that they can be benevolent protectors - such as the monk who dies and becomes a ghost to protect a temple. skull-tattoo ZUGAIKOTSU (Skull) The skull tattoo design has a deeper meaning than just anger, fear, danger or death; it was not originally thought of as a symbol for any of these things. Instead, it was initially used to symbolise 'great change' and a 'celebration of a great life. In analysing the traditional meaning of the skull in ancient societies, we find that it was associated with the great changes and our acceptance and embrace of the 'embrace of the new' about death. The skull was a symbol used to celebrate and show respect for the deceased. Its association with death has likely increased, as death is the most significant change we will ever experience. Today it is miserable that most of the public do not understand the true meaning of the skull. When they see it, they automatically associate the symbol with negativity. Many conservative people hate the design because of its purpose; however, if they were aware of the true meaning behind the design, their opinion might be completely different. hannya-tattoo Hanya The Bonjour mask is just one example of the many different masks used by actors in the Japanese Noh theatre tradition. Noh theatre performances are a programmatic representation of traditional and famous stories developed in Japan in the 14th century. Masks were used to convey the identity and emotions of various characters, of which there are nearly eighty in different stories. The Bonjour mask is explicitly used to represent a vengeful and jealous woman. Her anger and jealousy have consumed her, and she becomes a demon but leaves some important traces of her humanity behind. Pointed horns, glittering eyes and sharp-toothed teeth, together with a look of pure spite, are tempered by a pained expression around the eyes and subtly dishevelled hair that expresses passionate emotions. The darker and more extreme the colour of the face, the deeper and more extreme the character's emotions. Tattoos make the most of these whimsical and intriguing images, often using them in more significant Japanese works or sometimes juxtaposing masks of good and evil characters. Often, Noh theatre masks also appear on their own, as works of art in their own right, instead of the precious and highly collectable actual shows. To this day, in Japan, the gesture of two forefingers extending from a man's forehead indicates that his wife is angry or jealous of him. The redder colour indicates intense resentment and anger and is used in plays such as Dodoji and Kurozuka, while the lighter colour is more appropriate for Aoi-no-use. do dojo is the story of unrequited love between a woman and the priest of the Dodoji (temple). She turns into a demonic snake, wrapping her body around the temple bell and consuming it and the priest in the process. If Bonjour's teeth turn black, it indicates that she does not want anyone but her deepest love to look beautiful, which implies purposeful emotion. All Japanese myths usually have a double meaning. Let us remember what anger does! It is often caused by despair! Live long with understanding and compassion. namakubi-tattoo NAMAKUBI (beheading) Namakubi in tattoos can be used to signify many things, courage, warning, respect for the enemy, or simply as a fearless image. Willingness to accept your fate and carry it with honour is one of the messages used in namakubi. Nevertheless, a cruel idea, which is used not only as a shock factor but also as an element of the circle of life, for example - when taking ahead, it is caused in respect for this and that person, but can also past often indicate to others that they will be punished if they do not lead a truly righteous life. hebi-tattoo HEBREW (Serpent) It is no exaggeration to say that snakes are probably the most symbolic animals in existence. They are said to have supernatural powers, such as protection against disease, disaster, and calamity. Just as dragons can make it rain, they can also know the possible consequences of inappropriate behaviour. They will leave if things are "not quite right". ". Snakes are sometimes portrayed as able to transform themselves into human forms, such as jealous or aggrieved women. Not all snake myths are bad; many shopkeepers are portrayed as a snake coiled around a wooden mallet near the entrance, which is meant to bring good luck and prosperity, and sometimes, in stories, it is subtly said that "the General is happy we are here," (referring to the snake as "the General"). Over time, they have become a symbol of some of humanity's greatest hopes and fears. In ancient Asian folklore, snakes were sometimes rewarded with pearls as gifts and generally appear as guardians of shrines and treasures; their saliva was thought to be precious jewels underground. Snakes are associated with wisdom and prophecy. Snakes found in homes are even seen as encouraging, ancestral spirits personified as protectors, hence the name protective snake. In the zodiac, those born in the Year of the Snake are generally mystical, but they are also the wisest. They are seen as thinkers and philosophers and enjoy conversation and intelligent discussion. However, they tire quickly of repetition and are less willing to take advice, although they will listen to it. Although snakes will look at a situation from many angles, they can also act quickly and decisively. Snakes are an excellent example of many different types of tattoos; retracting them for protection is also associated with strength. One of the reasons that reptiles and amphibians can get into so many different types of tattoos is that their symbolism is centred on change, just like the forms they take in life. The snake represents the earth and the life-giving water.