Tattoo Inspiration for Every Soul

20 Stunning Chinese Tattoo Ideas And What They Mean

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Did you know that Chinese tattoos were once used for punishment? In earlier days, individuals with tattoos were considered dishonorable, forever forced to live far away from others. Now, here you are, looking for a tattoo not as a mark of guilt, but simply to enhance your appearance. And no one will banish you; I promise you’ll be just fine.

You’ve come to the right place! Here, you’ll find the most alluring Chinese tattoo ideas you’ll be obsessed with. In the following photos, you will see a variety of creative designs that are both visually appealing and rich in symbolism.

Depending on your preferences, you can choose inspirational words as tattoos or opt for symbols that, when combined, create a unique narrative. And these are just a few of the possibilities! Scroll down for more inspiration and find the perfect ink for your body.

1. Hopeful Chinese tattoos


We all need our daily dose of motivation, and what better motivation than a beautiful phrase that’s become a part of our body?

You can choose the simplest motivational phrases, like the picture above shows (”Never give up!”), or any other that resonates with you.

What do you struggle with? What do you need to hear the most? Let’s etch that onto your skin!

2. Chinese landscape on your back

Credit: kurosumitattooink

This gorgeous artwork of a tattoo is an example of the sketch tattoo style. It depicts Chinese scenery, and in the same manner, you can choose a beautiful scenery of your own.

Is there a place you really love? Do you have memories you can’t part from? Think about what matters to you and turn it into art!

3. Chinese watercolor nature


This particular tattoo, as the artist explains, is an attempt to create the same effect as Chinese watercolor paintings. It depicts the scenery of Taroko Gorge. If you want your tattoo to evoke the same soothing feeling, all you need is to find a place fitting for that intent.

Maybe there’s a beautiful river you used to sit by with your friend and talk for hours, or the woods in your hometown where you would escape from your everyday problems. If so, there’s your idea!

4. Badass dragon Chinese tattoos


It’s a classic, honestly. You can never go wrong with a dragon on your body! Small or big, black or red, it’s going to look just as powerful and make you feel that way as well!

5. A whole story on your back

Credit: pantheraink

Even the smallest of tattoos tell a story. Now, imagine what kind of a story you could tell if you devote your whole back to it!

Maybe there is one you’ve always cherished so deeply that you’d like it to be a part of you, or perhaps you’d want to tell your own life journey. Either way, go hard!

6. A tattoo that drives away all evil

Interestingly enough, the word “tiger” shares the same pronunciation in Chinese as the word ”protection.” Being a creature of great strength, its image was often used on weapons for instilling confidence and attracting good luck.

In the same way, you can tattoo a tiger on your body, and motivate a new, powerful you to emerge.

7. Become one with a mythical creature

Credit: xiaolun_tatt

The tattoo you see in the photo depicts a legend about a Chinese turtle from the period when Emperor Le Thai To defeated the Ming Dynasty. As he was coming back home with his new magical sword and victory in his heart, a turtle emerged from the lake, seized the sword, and then vanished once again!

Honestly, who wouldn’t want to have this iconic turtle as a tattoo? Inspire yourself to be courageous by finding any mythical creature you fancy.

8. Colorful flora and fauna

Credit: seolheetattoo

This beautiful watercolor tattoo depicts animals, flowers, and more flowers inside the yin and yang sign. However, this yin and yang sign doesn’t seem to contain opposites. Instead, everything is blooming.

Even when the world seems a little ugly, you can always get a soothing Chinese tattoo like this to remind yourself that everything will eventually be okay.

9. Find the perfect mantra

Credit: tattooist.js

If you have a hard time picking the perfect words of your own, there is always a Taoist mantra you can choose. And by Taoist mantras, I mean Chinese sayings used for meditation, reminding you the importance of a clear mind and heart.

10. Mythological Chinese tattoo

Credit: tattooist_eq

In the photo above, you can see Guanyin, also known as the goddess of mercy and compassion. You can also dive deep into the Chinese mythology to find the perfect inspiration for your next tattoo.

What traits do you admire? Which traits would you like to possess? These questions can serve as a good starting point.

11. Lotus flower Chinese tattoo

Credit: newtattoo_demi

Which flower contains better symbolism than the Lotus flower? From its humble beginning in the mud to its full blossoming beauty, the lotus signifies purity. It is also pronounced the same way as the Chinese word for ”harmony.”

I actually picked this as my first small tattoo, and it is still my favorite one!

12. A blossoming arm


I don’t know about you, but having a plum blossom over your whole arm looks pretty neat! I doubt you can even be in a bad mood with it constantly in view!

Naturally (pun unintended), you can choose something else, but let this serve as an inspiration.

13. A blossoming half-back


Even better! A half of your back devoted to pretty images of plum blossoms! The strong contrast between red and black creates a very powerful impression. It soothes, and at the same time, gives you goosebumps. Well, I’m in!

14. Darkened floral designs


This is yet another example of the sketch tattoo style. Flowers drawn with black ink only, using messy-looking lines (as is the characteristic of this style) create a haunting effect.

Personally, as much as I like flowers in their natural, cheerful colors, this looks too tempting and intimidatingly beautiful not to try.

15. Chinese calligraphy tattoo

If you want a classic Chinese tattoo, you can always opt for Chinese calligraphy. The delicacy and sophistication of the letters will make your inspirational phrases look even more beautiful!

16. What do you need to remind yourself of?

Credit: diaoshanxi

This photo shows the beautiful Boston ivy that symbolizes devotion and growth. This is because its vines have a tendency to get intertwined with each other while also overcoming obstacles along the way. Quite inspiring, isn’t it?

17. Tell a story


Just like in the picture shown above, you can choose a whole variety of symbols that speak to you! Figures, signs, words, animals, places, and shapes. Who said you can have only one? Be unhinged and get them all!

18. Beastly Chinese tattoos

Credit: Zhiyong_tattoo

Black & white art of any kind always gets to me. Tattoos, with their rendering in black and grey, are no exception. Exclude the colors and what’s left is the very essence of an image, in this case, that of a beast.

If you want something beautiful and slightly melancholic, I would certainly recommend this style.

19. Gothic Chinese tattoo

Credit: strangemmmaker

Font choice matters! It conveys meaning as much as the words do. So, if you want your Chinese tattoo to look extra badass, opt for a font that will produce that effect!

Similarly, if you choose a more gentle saying, you should aim for a delicate font. Combine the two meanings to create a flawless tattoo.

20. Free your warrior spirit

Credit: markvatatattoo

Let’s admit it: we’ve all secretly dreamed of being a cool Samurai and slaying our enemies with our miaodao (also known as the Samurai sword)! But alas, not all wishes can come true. We can turn them into tattoos though, right?

The picture shows a great Chinese Samurai standing all proud and determined, likely before a battle. Since we can’t be him, why not immortalize him on our bodies?

Let him remind you of the importance of fighting for what you believe in. Live out your Samurai dreams! (Just don’t go around slaying anyone, please.)

All in all, as you can see, there are so many Chinese tattoos to choose from, ranging from simple to complex, from words to stories. You just need to discover what works for you and go for it!

Is there a Chinese god or goddess you admire? Or do you prefer the symbolism of flora and fauna? Maybe you simply want it to be aesthetically pleasing without it meaning anything? That’s okay, too. It’s going to be your tattoo after all, and I’m sure you’ll choose a splendid one!