The Chinese people have a highly developed writing system that evolved at least 3000 years ago. Ancient writing has been found written on bone, brass vessels or pottery and bamboo strips.
The Chinese writing system has no alphabet, but relies on a large number of symbols that represents spoken concepts or ideas. It is important to note that a Chinese symbol is NOT a pictograph but represents the entire spoken word.
And don’t even look for the Chinese alphabet because there isn’t one. The alphabet is a Latin invention, which is a whole new can of worms.
The Kangxi Dictionary was created in 1710 A.D. by imperial decree to compile 47,035 symbols. Don’t worry; the average Chinese person only needs to know five thousand symbols to pretty much read anything that is written in the Chinese language.
Now, let’s talk about mistakes which is the biggest block when someone thinks about getting a Chinese symbol tattoo. What you think the Chinese symbol tattoo means, may not be necessarily so.
As you can imagine, before rushing off to get the Chinese symbols tattooed on your skin – DOUBLE CHECK with someone who CAN read and understand Chinese. And resist the urge to pull over the Chinese waiter and ask him to write out the Chinese symbol for you. He may not know exactly what meaning you really want and may unintentionally give you the wrong symbol.
You see, Chinese symbols are complex and can easily be mean something other than intended. Get the wrong one… and your new tattoo will be a permanent source of embarrassment to you!
Another fact is that Chinese Calligraphy is a precise art and sometimes strokes can be missing in your tattoo design. But don’t panic! Your tattoo artist can easily fix those mistakes.
However, be warned that the artistic flair of your tattoo artist can turn your Chinese characters into gibberish.
Another thing, Chinese names are written in the reversed order. Which mean your last name goes before your first.
Let me pause here for just a minute… this is where things may get a little more complicated. Because your name is probably foreign to the Chinese language -- Chinese symbols will have to be picked out to pronounce your name. Remember there are no Chinese alphabets. So you will have to pick out one or more Chinese symbols that represent your spoken name.
Do you see what I mean? Getting a Chinese symbol tattoo can become a nightmare if done hurriedly without any thoughts whatsoever!
Nonetheless, Chinese symbol tattoos are very popular today because they are really beautiful. And because most of us in the Western Hemisphere cannot read Chinese, Chinese symbol tattoos becomes an “exotic” form of expression.
And let’s face the fact that the real reason most guys probably want a Chinese symbols tattoo is because they are usually associated with martial arts or karate flicks. Men!