Asian culture offers some of the most popular inspiration for body art and tattoos. From the traditional ying-yang symbol, to Japanese characters and Chinese mythology, these motifs create an aura of exotic mystery that has stood the test of time.
Considering new ink? The Japanese Kirin may be a perfect fit. This tranquil dragon tattoo originates in Asian mythology. It represents peace and kindness toward others and stability in the world—things we all wish for today. The Kirin also holds unique cross-culture significance. Korea, Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Japan all embraced the Kirin at one time or another.
Curious? Keep reading to learn more about what the Kirin tattoo is, where it comes from, and what it stands for: Why is the Kirin such a meaningful Chinese character tattoo?
What is the Kirin?
The Kirin takes a dragon or phoenix shape, though its true essence remains a mystery. Many early illustrations of the Kirin depict fish scales, feathers, and firey fur as variations on its physical form. Korea gave it a lion’s mane; China contributed deerlike antlers. Throughout the eras, the Kirin’s appearance gradually solidified.
Gold traditionally cascades across its body, although some versions use other colorings. Modern depictions of the Kirin generally emphasize its golden scales, flowing tail, and deerlike dragon face. A spirit of gentleness and serenity overpower its dragon resemblance for a truly beautiful mythical creature.
What was the role of the Kirin in Chinese and Asian mythology?
The Kirin’s influence spans multiple countries and legends (including Korea, China, Japan, and Vietnam). Many revered the Kirin as one of the more powerful mythical creatures in Asian culture. The Japanese Kirin legend claims it is the greatest of all mythical creatures. As a result, the Japanese treat the Kirin like a god.
Legends across Asia recount the Kirin’s appearances during times of stability. A visit from the Kirin foretold continued peace, even if the country faced a transition in leadership.
New royalty wasn’t necessary for a Kirin appearance, however; the Kirin could visit any time of the year. One myth claims the Kirin even visited the birth of Confuscious! Glimpses of the Kirin could be caught throughout peaceful eras, symbolizing blessing, future peace, and understanding toward all.
The Kirin’s character reflects its many appearances during times of peace. This mythical creature refused to harm any living being—including plants. To avoid breaking blades of grass, it walked on the clouds or on the water. Its diet (though not explained in detail) explicitly excluded meat.
Asian culture looked to the Kirin as a guide toward peace, stability, and harmony for thousands of years. Today, the Kirin continues to represent kindness and peace across the world.
What does a Kirin tattoo symbolize today?
Tattoo shops often receive requests for Kirin tattoos and body art. This Asian tattoo isn’t just an artsy addition to your sleeve-in-progress; it calls for thoughtfulness toward all living beings.
The Kirin symbolized peace for an era. Today, many individuals hope for the same peace worldwide. Some advocate for peace publically. Others quietly fight for it in their day-to-day actions. Outspoken or subtle, every action toward global understanding makes a difference. The Kirin tattoo celebrates these acts and hopes toward a better future.
The Kirin is also a tattoo favorite because a Kirin tattoo represents Chinese mythology, Japenese mythical creatures, and many other Asian cultures at once. A Kirin fits both Japanese tattoos and Chinese symbols. If you boast Korean, Thai, or Vietnamese heritage, your culture also passes down legends of the Kirin. A Kirin tattoo represents people of many cultures wishing for one future: peace.
Who should get a Kirin tattoo?
If you embrace a peaceful lifestyle, a Kirin tattoo may represent your desire for a better tomorrow.
For example: If you desire to encourage peace and stability in your community, the Kirin may represent your spirit animal. If you actively or passively take steps to promote a more tranquil world, the Kirin tattoo may match your lifestyle. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, your belief in a harm-free diet mirrors that of the Japanese Kirin.
Whether you’re new to tattoos or you’re finishing off a sleeve, consider a Kirin tattoo for your next body art.
Ready to get your new tattoo?
At Chronic Ink, we have some of the best tattoo artists in Toronto & Vancouver. Several who specialize in Asian tattoo design. We welcome walk-ins for consultations at our Downtown Toronto, Midtown Toronto, Markham and Newmarket locations. No appointment necessary or contact us and let us know your idea today.Tell us Your Idea
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