Oriental Tattoo Designs

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Japanese tattoos are probably the oldest and the most popular in tattoo art. They’ve appeared in Japan during the Yayoi period (300 BC — 300 AD) as spiritual and status symbols, but later (300-600 AD) they started to be used in negative connotation became marks for criminals.

One of the indigenous Japanese communities named the Ainu has influenced oriental tattoo art a lot: they used to have tattoos on their arms, mouth and sometimes the forehead. Japanese tattoo designs rooted in wood-block prints named “pictures of the floating world” (called ukiyo-e in Japanese). One of the most known ukiyoe artists was Kuniyoshi, who created the Suikoden: these images of tattooed warriors still influence oriental tattoo art a lot.

Being so popular in the Western world, Japanese tattoos are not so common in Japan — they are strongly associated with the yakuza (Japanese’s mafia). The members of yakuza are among the few people in Japan who cover the whole body with tattoos (co-called bodysuit). But how did oriental tattoos appear in the Western world? Because of the sailors who have been travelling all around and have brought a lot of foreign traditions to their home countries. That’s why now oriental tattoo art is so popular, and there are a lot of great tattoo masters who work in this style.

What are the most popular designs created in the oriental style? First of all mythological creatures: tigers, snakes, koi fish or birds. Second — beautiful flowers like lotuses, cherry blossom and chrysanthemums. And of course we should mention characters from traditional folklore, literature and religion: the Suikoden (geisha, samurai, criminals), Buddhas and Buddhist deities and Shinto kami deities.

35 Meaningful Oriental Tattoo Designs
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