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The Meaning Behind Tiger Tattoos and Their Designs

The Tiger has captured the creative heart for time immemorial. Art of all kinds, from poetry to paintings, have paid tribute to this mighty beast of the jungle. And for good reason! Tigers are fearsome predators and kings of their domain.

Many people choose to immortalize tigers through their tattoos. Some do so for symbolic reasons, others for appreciation or respect, some for personal style, and others for conservation efforts.

Tiger tattoo

The Symbolism Behind the Tiger Tattoo

The tiger’s fierce beauty evokes several strong emotional responses. Over time, this has evolved into several types of uniquely symbolic meanings.

  • Beauty
  • Courage
  • Cunning
  • Danger
  • Ferocity
  • Independence
  • Passion
  • Power
  • Protection
  • Strength
  • Violence

The perception of the tiger has been aided through certain Asian cultures, featuring almost as prominently as the dragon and taking residence in the Zodiac calendar. Japanese Samurai even had tigers on their crests. In Chinese folklore, tigers were protectors of the dead, and mythology associated tigers with the god of wealth. Tigers were believed to bring luck and prosperity and to ward off evil. In Korean culture, they are king of the animals.

In India, the story is less fantastic and far more gruesome. Tigers are considered violent and destructive animals, having clashed with Indian people again and again; tigers have practically wiped out entire villages in India.

The true kings of the jungle (step aside, lions) had their popularity built upon through the efforts of creatives like William Blake in the above poem and countless other artists. Carnivals and stage shows grabbed onto this excitement as time passed.

To be fair, the tiger needed little help in expanding its influence. Their prowess in the jungle, gorgeous yet practical colouration, and compact strength had earned the respect (and fear) of mankind long before carnivals and zoos and Disney movies.

Realism Tiger Tattoo

Animal Rights Expressions

Unfortunately for the tiger, they were popular in other ways. Poachers. Exploitation. Revenge.

Three breeds of tiger have gone extinct due to a mixture of poaching, environmental change, and conflict. Additionally, it was discovered that many stage shows and carnivals abused their animals. The more that information has become available, the more humanity has stepped up to try and turn the tide before we lose these beautiful beasts forever.

Well-regulated zoos and conservation efforts have helped immensely, but sometimes the individual wants to help, too. Tattoos are a way that people have used art and beauty to both bring attention to these majestic animals and start a conversation.

Who Should Get a Tiger Tattoo? Where Should it Go?

First off, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get a tiger tattoo. Tiger tattoos are a matter of personal representation and style, not public opinion. Tigers mean something to you, from respect and appreciation to more symbolic meanings. Men, women, genderfluid, nonbinary, agender, etc. can all rock a tiger tattoo. Age doesn’t determine what tattoos you get– you do.

As for placement…well, that’s still mostly up to you. Tigers are often seen in the middle of the back, the chest, or the bicep. They really won’t work on fingers, but the side or stomach area is an option. Women may prefer shoulder or their lower back as a comfortable location. The main determiner is the actual design and its size.

Lady and Tiger Back Tattoo

Bring Your Tiger to Life with Chronic Ink Tattoo

Your tattoo will ultimately be what you make it. Some styles have risen in popularity, and inspire many people. Tattoo artists are also finding inspiration in the tiger’s vibrant beauty, so more design options are becoming available.

Tiger tattoos include the realistic, 3D tiger art; Tribal tiger art; Dragon-Tiger art; and Tiger cub art. These realistic images often include bold colours and vibrant eyes. Tribal designs are often used to emphasize the symbolism of spiritual energy, power, and strength. Dragon-Tiger art represents the dichotomy between the two creatures, traditional enemies in Chinese folklore. Tiger cubs often speak to innocence and childish love or parental love for children.

Tigers can be combined with several elements, from a natural setting to lettering or other animals. It all depends on the message you want to convey through your art or the aesthetic you want to achieve.

At Chronic Ink Tattoo, our artists work closely with every client to help them design the tattoo of their dreams. Contact us with your idea today, and one of our expert artists will help you realize the vision in exquisite and unique detail.

Interested in Getting your Own Tattoo?

Do you live in or around the Toronto, Markham, Mississauga or Kitsilano Vancouver area? Interested in getting your first, or perhaps 3rd or 5th or 10th tattoo? We’re the place to call! Our team of passionate, talented and professional tattoo artists can help you find the perfect design for your next tattoo. Stop by or reach out today for more info.

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Tattoo Locations

Downtown Toronto

378 Yonge Street,
2nd Floor,
Toronto, Ontario
M5B 1S6
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Midtown Toronto

252 Eglinton Ave East,
2nd Floor,
Toronto, Ontario
M4P 1K2
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Markham

7381 Kennedy Road,
Unit #105,
Markham, Ontario
L3R 5B5
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