Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Enter the Dragon
After buying some DVDs last night, I stopped at a bar to get my Corona fix (man I love that stuff), and a couple dudes came up to me and said they liked the tattoos on my arms. We got to talking about where I got them, how much they cost, etc. They were shocked to learn that one small lizard on my left arm cost as much as the whole mural on my right forearm. Anyway, one guy said that Chinese men like to get dragons on their upper arms and shoulders. I got to thinking about it, and I realized that almost every tattoo on a man that I have seen in China has been of a dragon. They are usually very well drawn and are probably costly, but come on, there's no national law that says if you are a guy and you want a tattoo, you must get a dragon. I am sure that the tattoo diversity of big cities would be more varied, but I've checked out the websites of prominent Beijing and Shanghai tattoo studios and a large portion of their work is dragon-oriented.
Now I know that in China, as opposed to the West, death isn't "cool," hence skulls and flames and demons won't be very common. But I think that many Chinese people who get a tattoo do it just to have one, not for personal expression or memorials. There is a certain bad boy image associated with tattoos here (as well as in the West) and I suspect that this why many men get inked, but it would be so much cooler to expand beyond Chinese culture and sport Polynesian tattoos, tribal designs, biomechanical, and fantasy tattoos. The artists have the capabilities; the customers just don't have uniqueness and individuality on their minds when they select a design. This philosophy applies to many aspects of Chinese lifestyle and culture, and it's not all bad as some people think, but that's another discussion.
Now the ladies on the other hand have a nice tattoo canon. I've seen delicate ankle designs, floral designs for the shoulders and hands, and the ubiquitous lower back tattoo, often incorporating a rose or butterfly. I've never found a woman with heavy ink very attractive but a couple pieces can be very hot, and I think most Chinese women that get ink do so tastefully in a way that makes them edgy yet still feminine. Megan wants something small and cute so when that comes about I'll put up pictures.
It's interesting to note that in Japan, a dragon tattoo is often a symbol of association with organized crime. The world sure makes a lot of hoopla about drawing permanent pictures on people's skin.
Posted by Mark Carver at 2:30 AM