A warning about Chinese tattoos

Chinese characters can be both a beautiful art form, and a unique method of expressing a personal message in a succinct manner. These qualities are a big part of what make Chinese tattoos so popular.

However, if your intention is to get a tattoo, please do not use the designs here without first confirming their accuracy with either me or another native Chinese speaker (e.g. a Chinese friend). I've put together a lot of content here, and I do not guarantee it to be error free. Furthermore, some of the tattoos would not be appropriate for a particular gender, or on a particular part of the body, and such subtleties may not be obvious to a non-Chinese-speaker. A tattoo is a lifelong decision, and you should thoroughly research your choice of characters before heading to the parlor.

With that warning in mind, I will also say that researching Chinese tattoos here is far safer than selecting one at the parlor. Tattoo flash books are FULL of errors – some extremely embarrassing and/or disturbing. One I saw recently confused the characters for "princess" with "geisha" - not a cute symbol to be tattooed with. Numerous examples of people making uninformed decisions can be seen at HanziSmatter.