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  • Writer's pictureMandira Antar

Embracing the Majestic Tiger: Mythological, Religious Symbols & Tattoo Designs

Updated: 17 minutes ago

Nature has gifted us with numerous majestic creatures, but the tiger as a symbol has it's own place. Revered for its strength, agility, and beauty, the tiger is part of most cultures around the world. I was a bit reluctant about the tiger post for months now, it seems to be causing me some fear and shyness to explore, as if I have to be more similar to it to understand and dive into it, as if i cannot grasp it's power. But, if a symbol calls upon you, you should always go with the fear...

A bengal tiger in shallow waters surrounded by bamboos in green, blue pastel colours. Realistic tattoo custom design and illustration by Mandira
Bengal tiger in water by Mandira

The tiger is a strong symbol in mythology and religion, has a rich history and symbolism, and we shall explore upon how this magnificent animal has made it's mark in the realm of tattoo art. It is a powerful symbol of water, soft but fierce, the tiger teaches us the wisdom and balance that surrounds us.

The Tiger in World Mythology and Religion

In Hinduism, the tiger is associated with the goddess Durga, who rides a majestic tiger as her Vahana (vehicle). Durga symbolizes feminine power and protection, and the tiger embodies her ferocious yet protective nature.Goddess Durga's defeats the buffalo demon Mahishasura which symbolizes the triumph over fear and obstacles and negativity.

Did you know?

Korea is known as the “Land of tigers” and some say that even the shape of the country depicts a tiger with an open mouth placing it's upper feet on the land of China.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the tiger was associated with the goddess Bastet (the feline goddess), who represented protection, fertility, and the home. Bastet's connection with the tiger symbolized her fierce yet nurturing qualities.

Within Chinese culture, the tiger is one of the twelve zodiac animals and symbolizes courage, power, and protection. It is also considered a guardian against evil spirits.

Within Buddhism, the tiger is revered for its presence in the Jataka tales. These stories depict the Buddha in his past lives, and the tiger often appears as a symbol of strength, courage, and protection.

In Zen Buddhist teachings, the tiger is often used as a metaphor for the mind's untamed nature and the journey towards self-awareness and enlightenment. The tiger represents the raw power of awareness.

This reminded me of a zen story (koan) that narrates a monk who is walking through a forest when he encounters a fierce tiger. So, he starts to run in order to escape the tiger and finally arrives to a cliff. He jumps and grasps a vine and while he is hanging over the deep edge he sees a lion waiting for him to fall, above his head he also sees two mice (one black and one white) to gnaw away the vine. Now, he is totally threatened and shivering with fear when he notices a red strawberry, he picks it up, he eats it and it is delicious!

The meaning of this story is that life, even at it's most threatening moments - and death is there, over the cliff , awaits us all - we should live in the moment, because the present, always has a sweet strawberry to offer.

A tiger head in grey colors and watercolor background and key words, meaning for the symbol of tiger
Tiger symbol meaning by Mandira Tattoo

The Tiger as a Tattoo Design

Man's side arm in black and white with tiger head and lotus, moon phases, mandala style tattoo custom design
Tiger with lotus and symbols mandala Tattoo design by Mandira

The symbolism attached to the tiger makes it a popular choice for those seeking a tattoo design that embodies strength, protection, and elegance. The intricate patterns and vibrant colors of a tiger tattoo can make a bold statement, regardless the size.

Tigers are part of depictions with vibrant colors, watercolor, old school or tribal designs, or the traditional Yants.

They are often combined with peonies (in Japanese tattoos), Bamboos, in pairs (in Sak Yant).

Choose a forearm or sleeve placement, if you feel the tiger to be your spirit animal and you need it to drive your actions and remove the obstacles that you face in the way. The left side of the body will enhance your intuition and drive.

Place the tiger on the upper back to help you tame your thoughts and negativity. It will support you through your efforts to awareness and centered living.

The tiger as a forceful feminine energy will help the flourishing of your sensuality if placed in the naval or waist area (sacral chakra). Combined with bamboos it is a dynamic combination of resilience and flexibility.

Choose a colorful tiger with a lotus if you need more centering and transformation of negative thinking and prejudices that not serve your best interest anymore. Place it near to centre of your back, around the heart chakra to support you in your opening and assist you in facing your fears and reservations.

In Sak Yant tattoo art, the tiger becomes a powerful talisman for good luck, protection against yourself and evil spirits. The pair of tigers is usually a choice of martial art practitioners due to the symbolism of strength and protection it provides.

Tiger tattoos on the calf can emphasize the dynamic movement and agility associated with this majestic animal. This location allows for a design that flows naturally with the contours of the leg.

Embrace the Power of the Tiger

Whether you are drawn to the tiger for its mythological significance, religious symbolism, or as an inspiring tattoo design, the essence of this creature resonates with strength, courage, and protection. From ancient tales to modern ink artistry, the tiger continues to captivate our imagination and remind us of the untamed beauty that exists in the world.

Unleash your inner tiger and embrace the transformative power that this symbol holds. Let the tiger walk alongside you, embodying grace and ferocity, as you navigate the journey of life with courage and resilience.


Never forget that every tattoo and symbol takes it's meaning from the wearer !!


About the Author (Mandira)

Check out my tattoo page and message me for a custom design that we co-create with love and enthusiasm! Like my facebook page to stay in touch! About Mandira Antar

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