These Tiger Tattoos Are GRRRRREAT
Real life tigers are on the fast track to extinction, but tiger tattoos will live on forever.
There are probably more tattoos of tigers in the world than there are actual tigers. Though they are frequently labeled “man killers,” it’s really us who are killing them off. We have driven them to the brink of extinction by destroying large portions of their natural habitats and poaching them for their beautiful hides. Go us, right? This is why it’s so cathartic when some idiot decides to scale the wall of an enclosure at a zoo and gets his (it’s almost always a man, go figure) ass mauled. Apparently stupidity can’t change it’s stripes either, but one thing’s for sure, though, Shere Khan doesn’t have shit on these tiger tattoos.
If seeing what happened to Roy of Siegfried and Roy fame, here are some of the reasons why you should never fuck with tigers. They’re the largest species of cats (males growing upwards of 200 kg), making them one of the fiercest apex predators on the planet. At full speed, tigers can run up to 65 kmh, which considering their weight, would feel like getting hit by a freight train with retractable claws. They also have upper canines that are the size of a man’s middle finger and jaws strong enough to crush bones. Basically, Tigger and Hobbes couldn’t be more misleading; tigers are straight up killing machines.
All of this uncaged power is what makes tigers such fearsome creatures in nature, but it’s their rich symbolism that makes them compelling figures in body art. Depending on who you ask, tigers are representative of different themes. In some cultures, especially in places that tigers actually inhabit, they are seen as harbingers of destruction, while in other parts of the world, tigers are thought of as symbols of protection, but due to their untamable nature, they are always emblematic of living life the way we all really wish we could — without inhibitions.
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Tigers have been revered figures in body art for centuries, appearing in the Japanese style as far back as the Edo period and becoming a staple in the traditional style as it spread throughout the world during the 20th century. In more recent decades, artists have started creating realistic portraits of them, which have a savagely tragic beauty given the state of tigers. Though they’ve inspired countless compositions, before too long, tigers will likely go the way of dragons, existing only as legendary creatures in Irezumi bodysuits.
To see more body art inspired by nature, make your way to these tattooists’ Instagrams. If you want a tiger tattoo of your own, have one of them design it for you, depending on what style speaks to you most. Oh yeah, don’t climb into any tiger cages and consider helping these beautiful creatures stay with us while longer by donating to the Wildlife Conservation Society.