Offbeat — 13 September 2013

Chinese tattoos

Tattoos in Chinese lettering have got to be the second most popular form of tattoos after the ones that use heart imagery. But what remains a mystery to most people is why someone who doesn’t even speak Chinese would get a tattoo in the language. We try to decipher the mindset that prompts people to get tattoos in Chinese.

It makes people appear deeper than they really are

For an average non-Chinese speaker, the letters used in the script mean nothing since they don’t understand what they represent. However, non-Chinese speakers do know what Chinese lettering supposedly looks like and that it is used to put complex notions and thoughts into writing. Since the Chinese culture itself is deemed deeply philosophical and mysterious, getting a tattoo in Chinese automatically makes a beholder assume that you know a thing or two about Chinese culture or philosophy and that you probably are a deep thinking person.

It looks mysterious even to them

If you don’t know Chinese, a word written in the script would look pretty exotic and fancy to you. If you were told that the Chinese character you are so mesmerized by represents something meaningful like “success” or “love”, the same character would offer a greater meaning to you too. Since you can’t read Chinese, you’d never really know if the tattoo really means “success” or “love” and this sense of mystery will keep you attracted to and mesmerized by the tattoo for longer.

It’s a conversation starter

If you are a native English speaker living in an English speaking country, getting a tattoo that says for example, “strength”, would not evoke too much of a reaction from strangers or people that you meet for the first time. Having a tattoo that says the same thing in Chinese, however, will prompt people to ask “what does your tattoo say?” thus serving as a great opening for a conversation.

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Written by Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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