Foreigners’ Chinese Tattoos

| August 6th, 2010

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The title of this original post from Tianya was “Talk about some stupefied individual foreigners’ tattoos, not understanding Chinese is really frightening”.  Tattoos of Chinese characters can be really beautiful and artistic, some also can be meaningful and speak the words of wisdoms, however some of the samples we have here really make us wonder if the person or even the tattoo artist understood the meaning of these words.  If you don’t understand Chinese and ever were thinking about getting a tattoo of Chinese characters, the advice is to get a second opinion from your knowledgeable Chinese friend.

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It says “This is tattoo”, kind of obvious…

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Is that Mao?

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壮女 “Buff Girl”  she is buff…

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宦官:eunuch, A eunuch  is a castrated man, usually one castrated early enough to have major hormonal consequences.

The term usually refers to those castrated (without their consent) in order to perform a specific social function, as was common historically in many societies.

 

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“Coffin Man”

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Not sure what this means…

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人妖: An abnormal human phenomenon or a ladyboy; a person who is physically abnormal or pretends to be a person of his or her opposite sex; refers to a man who has had a sex change operation and tries to make a living performing as a female.

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“Bad Boy”

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“Cricket”

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We think it should be 尽忠报国, comes from the story of famous Chinese patriot Yue Fei. According to historical records and legend, Yue had the four Chinese characters (simplified Chinese: 尽忠报国; traditional Chinese: 盡忠報國 – "serve the country with the utmost loyalty") tattooed across his back. The Biography of Yue Fei says after the traitor Qin Hui sent agents to arrest Yue and his son, he was taken before the court and charged with treason.

However on his arm, the 3rd and 4th characters are tattooed backwards.

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義: righteousness, justice… nothing wrong with that

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忠:Loyalty

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Heaven and earth, I am the only one to be respected. (extremely conceited and egotistical person)

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“Chicken”

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“Love… sexual activities”

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This makes no sense

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生死有命富贵在天: Pretty famous saying, direct translation is “life or death, rich or poor is all up to fate.” also means every bullet has its billet, dying is as natural as living.

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Dragon, bravery… not sure what it means.

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静: quiet, peaceful…

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Probably a direct translation of his English name, but the 2nd character is up side down.

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Jack from Lost: 鹰击长空, I looked this up, it is actually the Chinese name of the video game Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X

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Kong fu, Sadness?

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It says “I am here”

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Not sure what 勉族 means

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“Daddy is always in my heart”

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“Father and Mother”, except using 母 (mother)  instead of 娘 (informal) would be much more suitable

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“Golden Roster”

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“I love you”

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贱: cheap, lowly, despicable… it’s a bad word.

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“Monkey”

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尊重乾盛: “Respect…” does not make sense. 2nd character is a typo also.

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This one looks like a spell.

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  Another “low life person” 贱人: Slut, bitch

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“Fire Power”

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“I don’t eat meat 88 but I bite”

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Women with the “Chicken” tattoo again

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“Wish my father blesses and protects me”

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Magic bird? not sure what it really means.

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色 means color or pornography, perverted

凶 means unlucky, ill omen

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“Overcome difficulties together” usually describes friendship.

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“None of your business”

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“Cherish time”

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百无禁忌: “All taboos in abeyance”

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“Friendly”

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His name?

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呆子: fool, idoit

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"Screw here”

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He is a “Virgo”

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“Crazy Diarrhea”  This guy must have digestion problems.

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Another “Coffin man”

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不成功便成仁: means “succeed or die”

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They have the character “昆”.  could be a name, or else it has no meaning by itself.

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“Talk dragon love”, and the character “love” is written backwards

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‘”Fuck your mom”, the ultimate Chinese cuss  words…

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?!?!?!??!?!? not only the hand writing is bad, some characters are tattooed backwards and they make no sense.

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Tattoo on the back, this one is much better.
君子欲讷于言而敏于行: Confucius said “A gentleman must speak carefully, and be agile with his actions.”

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Heaven and earth, I am the only one to be respected. (another extremely conceited and egotistical person)

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42 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Tony D says:

    The last two are Miyavi, a Japanese rockstar.

    The barcode with the birthday is freaking me out at bit. That’s my birthday!!!

  2. sneakay says:

    Not only are some of these clearly photoshopped, but the 8th/9th picture with 人妖 is from Grand Theft Auto IV and is a joke making fun of this exact same phenomenon.

    Also, hanzismatter is a great place with tons more like this.

    Lastly, it seems kind of odd for Chinese to make fun of this while continually putting up garbage English everywhere. At least westerners recognize this shit is stupid, the “chinese shirts” have been out of style since the 90s. When will English phrases on fucking everything here go out of style?

    • Schamotnik says:

      Oh well, just shows that there’s a lot of idiots around.. I think these people deserve to be made fun of..

  3. Mark says:

    Heh Heh, sneakay is right. He who is without sin, cast the first stone.

  4. Cold Heartless Fearful Guy says:

    Maybe first ‘Made in China’ is actually on a Chinese person?!!!!

  5. Dr. K says:

    “Magic Bird”: might be reference to Larry Bird/Magic Johnson. Two very famous NBA stars from the 1980s-1990s.

  6. Julien says:

    Maybe people have their tattoos done backwards so they can see it right when looking at it in the mirror… I’m thinking of the 4th guy from the bottom

  7. Shanghaiette says:

    Actually, the “made in China” tattoo is a nice idea if you’re Chinese 😀

  8. A lot of laowais likes tattoed chinese characters but they don’t know what it means really.

    Just the two last pics, that boy is Miyavi, a japanese guitarrist and singer, and he knows what they’re tattoos means.
    The tattoo that he have in their back is a Sutra from Zen Buddhism

  9. Jane says:

    天上地下唯我獨尊supposed to be what Guatama Siddhattha, the original buddha said right after his birth.

  10. Rex M. says:

    The best repository for photos and analysis of misguided Chinese tattoos is Hanzi Smatter (http://hanzismatter.blogspot.com/)

  11. Carl says:

    actually, half of them aren’t all that bad.

    and btw, the “Chicken” 雞 tattoo girl could have been borne in the year of the roster, but the word chicken brought another meaning to my head. Chicken, could also be a Chinese slang for prostitute, which is quite awkward to look at when it’s tattooed to a girl.

  12. xino says:

    buff girl?

    you mean fatta, when you use buff word on girls it refers to them looking hot, if referred to guys it means getting ripped.

    • Blacky_Chan says:

      i don’t know where you are from, but where i live we don’t use “buff” to describe an attractive female. maybe you thinking of “stacked”

  13. Deb says:

    Cool!!!

  14. NiChan says:

    The last tattoo is a 心經 or Heart Sutra :

    觀自在菩薩 行深般若波羅蜜多時 照見五蘊皆空 度一切苦厄 舍利子 色不異空 空不異色 色即是空 空即是色 受想行識亦復如是 舍利子‧是諸法空相 不生不滅 不垢不淨 不增不減 是故空中無色 無受想行識 無眼耳鼻舌身意 無色聲香味觸法 無眼界乃至無意識界 無無明 亦無無明盡 乃至無老死 亦無老死盡 無苦集滅道 無智亦無得 以無所得故 菩提薩埵 依般若波羅蜜多故 心無罣礙 無罣礙故 無有恐怖 遠離顛倒夢想 究竟涅盤 三世諸佛 依般若波羅蜜多故 得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提 故知般若波羅蜜多 是大神咒 是大明咒 是無上咒 是無等等咒 能除一切苦 真實不虛 故說般若波羅蜜多咒‧即說咒曰‧揭諦‧揭諦‧波羅揭諦‧波羅僧揭諦‧菩提薩婆訶
    very complicated stuff here…

  15. sunbin says:

    for yue fei— all 4 characters are mirror image (left right reversed), it was done by stick the script on and then apply the tattoo

    for f-your-mother — the other hand shows Black Tiger

    for miyavi — underneather there are 4 more characters — “sex is nothing”

  16. What is the old saying in carpentry? “Measure twice, cut once.”

    That goes double when it comes to the question of getting a tattoo. Dollars to Donuts – most tattoo artists in another country are not going to fluent in speaking other languages – so make sure you have your words and art right before the ink is applied.

    The NBA tats remind me of a story about how Yao Ming’s first season in the league, and where he would be laughing on the court at some of the more “colorful” mistranslated tats.

    http://laowaiink.blogspot.com/2009/03/are-asian-language-tattoos.html

  17. Sojiro says:

    身体发肤,收之父母;不敢毁伤,孝之始也。

    • lolz says:

      Sometimes you get japanese tattoos in Kanji and the characters will not make any sense in Chinese. However there are probably a lot more cases where the laowai think they are getting a Japanese tattoo and instead getting a Chinese one.

      The good news is that with modern technology you can always remove these tattoos when you get old and regret kicks in.

    • lolz says:

      Hmm I meant to start a new subject in the other reply.

      Getting tattoos does not necessarily mean 毁伤身体发肤 to a lot of people.

  18. Jingping Lai says:

    天上地下唯我獨尊 is even more egotistical than your translation; 獨尊’s meaning is closer to ‘reign supreme’. Hence, 天上地下唯我獨尊 really means, “In Heaven and on Earth, I alone reign supreme.” Coming from ordinary mortals, that’s not just narcissim, that’s a flat-out god complex.

    • Jingping Lai says:

      And yes, Jane is correct; that is supposedly what Buddha said at birth. I suppose it’s possible that the people being tatooed were making a religious statement, but somehow, I doubt it…

      • Inst says:

        Could be Zen; which asserts that everyone is born a Buddha but are incapable of “realizing” (parentheses to indicate that realization is not realization in the ordinary sense) it.

  19. SDS says:

    Personally I find tattoos a complete ego-trip. Unless you have a very damn-good meaningful reason for getting one or are into it as a form of expressive art, I cannot see what other way to describe that person other than ‘self-absorbed show off’ (i.e. those who like getting pictures of dragons, obnoxious/arrogant phrases and weird tribal symbols).

    • Inst says:

      Planescape Torment: while unlike its protagonist, we are not in significant danger of instantaneous memory loss, we do forget our core values over time. Like Yue Fei’s mother, take an unostentatious tattoo to remind you of your core values, especially things you believe you’ll lose as you get older.

  20. Korean Elite Force says:

    White trash attracted to fake Chinese culture is like flies attracted to dung. Both are harmful to any civilized society.

  21. Cleo says:

    “kanji” means Chinese words, it’s another Japanese mispronunciation of “han zhi’ – duh and the Japanese had no problem acknowledging that they were using Chinese characters. There are only a handful of concocted words that are miswritten Chinese characters. About ten or fifteen years ago, when news about China became prevalent in the West, the Japanese “assumed” that Mainland China would be recognized by simplified characters and that the original “traditional characters” were now public domain and since South Koreans had seemingly taken the hanja aka kanji out of common usage, then it was okay to “let” Westerners assume that traditional characters were traditional i.e. ORIGINAL Japanese. Make no mistake, do your own research, the misidentification of Chinese characters as Japanese cultural heritage only happened within the last two decades. I have the pre-change Japanese language books from the 1990s to prove it. See for yourself. But you know what, it didn’t even work because Westerners don’t care. I only feel sorry for the Indonesian caregivers who are getting kanji instruction to facilitate their care of Japanese senior citizens in Japan while their Hongkong counterparts are speaking clean correct Cantonese Chinese and taking accurate Chinese character instruction. I almost died when I saw those poor Indonesian caregivers on Japanese news “learning Japanese.”

    • Bonnie Ronnie says:

      Cleo gets the prize for dumbass comment of the year. Japanese is just mispronounced Chinese? Huh? HanzHi? Huh? …

      • Kat says:

        Japanese “kanji” are Chinese characters. One character will usually hold the same meaning, but they are used/pronounced differently in the different languages. Previous guy is just talking about how some westerners are mistaking these characters as something of Japanese origin. That’s debatable because imo, all eastern Asian languages have a common origin. So, no. He’s not a dumbass. Kthxbai.

  22. NKWanderer says:

    I’ve seen the “Magic bird” one before. It’s a transliteration of “matrix” using the Japanese pronunciations of the characters.

    魔 ma
    鳥 tori
    樟 kusu

    matorikusu. Still a bunch of gibberish, and I don’t know why he would want “matrix” tattooed on him in any language…

  23. Urban dictionary says:

    Isn’t this similar to Chinese people walking around with meaningless English nonsense on their t-shirts? Same motivation. I’m sure there are people in China who have silly English tattooed on themselves, too.

  24. Bonnie Ronnie says:

    It’s a pity the big black dude with 操你妈 used the mealy-mouthed cao for those who can’t handle the blatancy of the correct 肏. Also, tattooed writing is a form of calligraphy and Chinese tattoos ought to use traditional characters, in my opinion. So this guy ought to have 肏你媽.

  25. Tekkaman Evil says:

    The 5 old dudes with “昆”…..

    Though “昆” itself doesn’t stand for anything, I think it means smthing if you split it into two parts:


    here u go~

  26. Sebsebzen says:

    鹰击长空,鱼翔浅底 is a famous poem by Chairman Mao. Means something like: The eagle soars in the sky, while the fish glide in the water.

  27. Angie says:

    There seems to be some experts on here! But it looks like the comments are old. Would anyone be willing to help me with what I’m looking for? The correct symbols for words. Or possibly a quote.

  28. b3a6 says:

    “昆“,拆分为”日”+“比”,mean Fxxx.
    “我不吃肉,我会咬”,“咬”拆分为“口”+“交”,mean blow job.

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