As the favourite creature of legends for centuries, dragons are, understandably, one of the most popular subjects for tattoos the world over and tribal dragon tattoos are becoming increasingly popular, particularly amongst young males. There are two distinct styles of dragons, those belonging to the east which have long, snaking bodies and are wingless and those relating to western mythology with their elongated neck and mighty wings. The meanings of the two are as different as their appearance: the Chinese and Japanese dragons symbolise benevolence, wisdom and good fortune whilst the western dragon is a terrifying, fire-breathing, destructive monster.
In mythology and folklore stories of dragons abound and these have resulted in a great variety of symbolism being attributed to them. Many believe they have been around since the creation of the world and, in fact, had a hand in its manifestation, but they are equally associated with its destruction so have the dual symbolism of creator and destructor. Because the western dragons were sentinels of the dead as well as fire-breathing monsters who guarded treasure, they symbolised guardianship.