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Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 in Chinese | 0 comments

A History of Chinese Tattoos and Chinese Tattooing Traditions

Historical Manifestation

The skill of tattooing continues to be known in China for centuries. Tattooing in China is known as Ci Shen (Or Wen Shen), a phrase that means literally “puncture your body.” Although the art continues to be known in China for a long time, it has typically been an infrequent practice. Throughout Chinese history tattooing continues to be seen as defamation of the body, something undesirable.

The favorite tattoo in Chinese history originates from the legend from the Chinese general Yueh Fei. Yueh Fei served the South Song Dynasty. During struggle with northern enemies the area Marshall under whom Yueh Fei served betrayed the South Song and went to the enemy. In protest Yueh Fei resigned and returned home. His mother grew angry with him, telling him that his duty was initially and foremost to his country, despite everything else. To remind him of the fact she tattooed four characters on his back together with her sewing needle. These characters, jin zhong bao guo, take time and effort to translate but mean something similar to “Serve his country with ultimate loyalty.”

At some things in Chinese history Chinese tattoos were also accustomed to mark criminals. Criminals found guilty of a severe crime could be ordered to possess a tattoo printed on the face and exiled right into a faraway land. Even if the criminal ever return the tattoo would mark them forever like a criminal. This type of punishment was referred to as Ci Pei (Tattoo/Exile).


Chinese Tattoos are extremely common to those who appreciate their culture and traditions. The tattoos not only express just the colorful tradition of the nation but the great symbolisms of China too. Chinese tattoos have grown to be a raging phenomenon among tattoo enthusiasts from the western world. Chinese tattoos offer beautiful characters having a sense of the exotic and frequently much deeper meaning than what lies on the top.

Chinese Tattoos in the western world

The west’s passion for Chinese tattoos has little to do with their tradition and more linked with the fact that how perfectly Chinese characters mesh using the art of tattoos.

If you’re planning to get a Chinese tattoo on your body then you need to understand the meanings of the tattoo characters and match them with your interpretations first before you get them imprinted on your body parts to denote some special message.

Chinese tattoos could be beautiful and powerful tattoos, however, you should do thorough research prior to getting any Chinese tattoo you should get some body. It’s, after all, likely to be with you your life.

Types of tattooing tradition & practices

Du long Tattoos

Du long women tattooed their faces to prevent themselves to get molested & raped by the foreign attackers some 350 years back. This tradition is still continuing even if the attackers are absent today.

Dai Tattoos

Dai women are usually tattooed being worn by their hands, their arms or possess a small dot tattooed between their eyebrows. Among Dai men tattoos are noticed as a manifestation of strength and virility. Generally tattoos are made in such a manner as to accentuate and highlight their muscles. However, there are no fixed traditional designs of the Dai people, most often the tattoos is going to be of a ferocious beast like a dragon or perhaps a tiger.

Li Tattoos

Li women are tattooed at the age of 13-14 years on their neck, throat as well as on the face. Over the next 3 years the girl is tattooed on her legs and arms. Her hands are tattooed only when she gets married. Guys have been recognized to have three blue circular rings tattooed on the wrists for medicinal purposes.

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