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In 1882, the young Duke of York, later to become King George V of England, got a tattoo of a dragon while on a visit to Japan. He was a midshipman on the H.M.S. Baccante at the time and traditional tattooist Hori Chyo executed the work. Whether perceived as creatures of air, fire, land or water, dragons have been popular across many styles of tattoo designs for a long time.
In Eastern traditions, dragons can be powerful allies and protectors as well as creatures of menace. They are often seening clutching or chasing the Pearl of Wisdom. Japanese tattooist often execute them across an entire arm or leg, where their twisting body shapes wrap well around limbs against backgrounds meant to symbolize wind or water.
Western dragons are often perceived as a threat, and tend to do battle with knights and wizards. They more often have wings in these interpretations and are often seen breathing fire. As with any creature or animal worn as a tattoo, many people wish to take on some of the qualities of these mythical creatures through their skin art. In the movie Reign of Fire Matthew McConaughey's dragon-slaying character has great tribal style arm tattoos and an elaborate chest piece based on the images of the dragons he hunts.
Below are a few resources if you are interested in wearing a dragon of your own. You can take a look at Dragon Tattoo Photos and Videos.
Dragon Tattoo Design
by Don Ed Hardy
This tattoo design book by renowned tattooist Hardy features nothing but dragons. There is a basic history and physiology of the creatures, along with tips for how to best recreate Hardy's drawings as tattoos, either as stand-alone pieces or integrated into existing ink. At present, this book is out of print and you will have to get a used copy if you wish to own it. I feel this would be entirely worth it given the quality of the publication, put out by Hardy himself in an oversize hardcover edition.
Chinese Dragons Tattoos by Bruce Lafontaine - 6 stick-on designs. Just need a dragon for a night? A temporary tattoo is a great idea and both blackwork and full-color dragon designs exist if you look around.
Dragons Vol 1 - by J.D. Crowe, spiral-bound, 20 pages of black and white line designs. Need something to take to the tattooist to help you explain what you want? These black and white designs are suitable for tattooing as is, or you can expand or modify the design to customize your tattoo.
Fantastical temporary dragon tattoo designs.
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