Tiger is certainly one of the most beautiful living creatures on our planet, we could agree without any doubt. This magnificent big cat has many gifts and skills one could be jealous of.
It is big and strong, but elegant and very fast. Tigers are proud, their posture and beauty have been astounding people for centuries and ages.
However, there are many reasons to stay out of their reach, because these animals are cruel, aggressive and merciless. They rule the jungle with their impressive strength and royal attitude.
Since far past, tiger motifs have been used in order to accent someone’s power, glory and authority. Tigers are often considered the strongest cat specie in the world, so it is a logical choice.
Tigers have special place in Asian folklore and mythologies, particularly in China. Chinese think of a tiger as a magical and mighty spiritual creature. In Chinese belief system, Tiger is one of the Four Guardians of the World, along with the Dragon, the Phoenix and the Turtle. In Chinese zodiac, Tiger is the third sign and it is thought to be one of the most powerful.
In Chinese mythology, White Tiger of the West is one of the Four Guardians of the World. There are also other important ‘dyed’ tigers in Chinese mythology.
They are Black Tiger, the guardian of Winter, associated with Water element, Blue Tiger of Spring, associated with the element of Earth, Red Tiger, the protector of Summer and ruler of the Fire element and, finally, the Yellow Tiger, the mightiest of all above mentioned and identified with the Sun;
In other cultures and societies around the world, tigers do not take an important spiritual part.
However, they are admired, feared of, adored for their impressive characteristics, and often used as motifs in art, design, popular culture etc. Jewish people consider tigers symbol of value and richness,
Romans associated them with the god Bacchus and Greeks with Dionysius, Egyptians linked them to Osiris. In shamanic societies, tigers were considered supernatural beings that roam through ‘spiritual woodlands’.
In Japanese culture, tigers are associated with one of the most important concepts for Japanese people, the concept of the Warrior.
All Asian societies believe tiger motifs and talismans bring good fortune and power, especially masculine power, so such artifacts are common amongst them. Asian men would wear tiger teeth, claws and paws, in order to induce and improve their masculine power, but also good health and longevity;
Cultural and mythical depiction of tigers
Westerners admire tigers for their strength and beauty, but this impressive animal does not play a significant role as a spiritual being, since it inhabits only Asian continent.
Asian societies’ folklore about tigers is rich and interesting. Tigers are especially loved by Chinese, but other Asian people also admire them and tell legends and stories about these incredible stripped felines.
Let us take a brief look upon different Asian cultural and legendary depictions of tigers.
Nepal – In Nepalese mythology, tiger represents energy and power. It is believed goddess Durga rides a tiger. Legends tell Durga defeated the powerful demon Mahishasura while she was riding her tiger.
Before that, nobody was able to conquer the powerful demonic creature. Therefore, Nepalese people value tigers and believe they possess an incredible mystical energy.
India – In Hindi tradition, tigers are linked to Lord Ayyappan, a child of Shiva and Mohini. It happened one day that royal family found the little boy and brought him to their palace. Once the queen has given birth to her own child, she started hating Ayyappan.
She wanted him dead, so one day, she sent Ayyappan to bring her tigress’s milk. The queen believed tigers will kill the boy, but he eventually returned sitting on a tiger’s back! In Hindi art, god Shiva is often portrayed sitting on tigers’ skin or wearing it.
Korea – In Korean mythology, tigers have special place. They are featured in the myth about the foundation of Korea. According to the legend, once upon a time there were only the Bear and the Tiger on Earth.
Gods have told them they will become humans, if they endure the challenge of spending one hundred days in a dark cave, with just essentials to survive.
The bear completed the challenge successfully and was transformed into a woman, the mother of the future founder of Korea, but the Tiger failed the task.
However, gods were merciful to this amazing creature and allowed the Tiger to remain on Earth as a guardian spirit.
China – Chinese people have been respecting, admiring and worshiping tigers since ancient times. This beautiful big cat plays an important role in Chinese legends, folktales and zodiac.
It is ranked third sign of Chinese zodiac and considered one of the most powerful zodiac and spirit animals. Tigers represent power, masculine energy, royalty and magnificence.
They are also believed to be protectors and guardian spirits. We have already mentioned the White Tiger of the West, as an important mythical being. Tiger motifs are often seen in Chinese art of different sorts.
Tigers represent pure masculine energy, so tiger motifs are never to be found on women’s clothes, such as traditional quipao dresses;
Japan – Japanese tiger mythology is basically the same as Chinese, because it is completely taken from it. Japanese mythology features the same concept of Four Seasons and Cardinal Directions. One of the Four Guardians of the World is the White Tiger, named Byakko.
He represents the West and the Autumn, just as the White Tiger from Chinese mythology does.
Tiger symbolical traits and characteristics
What does a tiger symbolize? As a spirit animal, tiger possesses many opposite traits. It is considered beautiful, grandiose, strong and powerful, but also proud, cruel and aggressive.
This symbol usually stands for something that is raw, unrestrained and unleashed. Tiger symbolism is strong and overwhelming and it demands much caution. It could be amazing, but destructive spirit.
Let us see what traits and characteristics are associated with tigers in symbolical and spiritual sense.
Aggression and cruelty – Tiger is never seen as cuddly and gentle animal. Asian people know very well how dangerous it is. Tigers would attack people and they usually do that in the most vicious way; they attack from behind.
In that sense, tigers represent not only the concept of danger, but that of threat as well. Tigers are cruel and merciless hunters and probably one of the most dangerous living beings on our planet.
In India, people would wear masks representing human face on backs of their heads, in order to keep dangerous jungle cats away, because tigers are vicious animals that attack from behind;
Raw feelings and expression – Because of their strength, independence and pride, tigers are determined and direct in symbolical sense, just as they are naturally unhesitant. They represent raw emotions and expression of thoughts and feelings straight to the point.
Tigers are tightly linked to the concept of peoples’ inner strength and personal power, so they are considered powerful totem and spirit animals. Tiger people never keep their thoughts to themselves and would always speak their mind.
Tiger people are extremely direct and they are not afraid to show their true emotions, either negative or positive. They never hesitate to attack others or defend themselves if engaged in a debate.
Sometimes, their energy is so strong Tiger person’s appearance and performance intimidates other people. Tigers symbolize freedom of speech, directness and expression of raw, unfiltered emotions and feelings.
Power and strength – Tigers are incredibly strong, in both reality and spiritual world. Those spirit animals possess great power for which Chinese appreciate them so much. Tiger represents not only the idea of power in general, but also personal power and energy, especially masculine.
They symbolize courage and fearlessness, an ability to stand our ground no matter the cost. Tigers are aware of their power, so they rule the spiritual world just as they rule over jungle.
Solitude and fearlessness – Tigers are solitary animals, but they would gather around in the mating seasons. They are extremely territorial and they always mark and protect vast spaces they consider their own. Tigers are one of the strongest symbols of solitude, independence and self-reliance.
They are associated with personal territory and introspection, as well. It is believed Tiger totem gives people strength to rely on themselves and never fall under other peoples’ influence.
Activity and energy – Tigers are active predators and they are associated with the concept of physical strength and movement. They are the strongest big cats on earth and one of the strongest animals in general. Tigers emit amazing energy.
Just look at their incredible muscular bodies that moves with grace but warns of a great strength. Tigers are highly valued for the energy they are believed to channel throughout the world.
Chinese respect this big feline because of its beautiful and royal appearance combined with amazing strength. They believe tigers are full of life energy, so they have many significant places in Chinese zodiac.
Tiger as totem and spirit animal
We have discussed several important cultural depictions of tigers and looked upon their spiritual powers and symbolical meanings.
How does it reflect on a person guided by Tiger totem? Tiger totem is a powerful one. If you are born under the Tiger totem, you are certainly an individual of great qualities, but also a bit raw character.
You may want to learn to control your incredible life force and channel it properly, in order to use all Tiger totem gifts for your own good.
Tiger individuals are influential and remarkable people others would likely follow. It is quite dangerous to disobey a Tiger leader, because they could act merciless and cruel.
On the other hand, these people are truly amazing, interesting and rich personalities, with much to offer. In general, Tiger people are:
- Independent and proud
- Aggressive and insensitive
- Great leaders
- Active and unhesitant people
Many of Tiger people traits could be understood in two ways. They are either positive or negative, depending on the direction you channel your Tiger energy.
No doubt you are an interesting individual with great talents and qualities, but sometimes, your unstoppable Tiger energy could misguide you.
Tiger people are proud and very self-reliant, to the point they become self obsessed and totally unbearable to be around them.
They love to boast about their achievements (which are many and remarkable) and their ability to achieve much without any help. It is certainly something you should be proud of, only try to listen what other people have to say about their lives.
Tiger people are always straight to the point. They are not subtle and they do not give a thing about fine or gentle talk.
They would always speak their minds and openly show their emotions. It is a rare characteristic, but a one that should be polished. It is amazing how those people show their love or admiration, but scary when it comes to negative feelings such as anger, sadness or else.
We don’t say you should suppress your emotions, it is wonderful you are able to sense them all, just chose the right time to talk about them or express them towards others.
- Elegant and classy
- Charismatic and influential
Tiger people are sophisticated, creative and elegant, which might appear in oppression to their raw energy, aggressive approach and strength.
They love beautiful things, they love to look good and to be in a good shape. Tiger people put much effort in their physical body, they usually lead a healthy and sporty lifestyle and are full of positive energy.
Tiger people have big shiny smile that literally blows people’s minds. They are extremely charismatic, which makes them outstanding personalities.
Tiger people show great communication skills and they express amazing talents in all sorts of performing arts. They could be both amazing entertainers and inspirational leaders whom people trust and look up to.
These individuals are active, unhesitant and outstanding personas.
Tiger tattoo meaning
Tiger motifs are common in contemporary tattoo art. What does a tiger tattoo represent and why do people choose the motif?
First of all, there is influential Chinese tiger symbolism that is spread all around the world. If you simplify its symbolism and put all the meanings together, in tattoo world a tiger represents power, aggression, cruelty, energy, beauty and passion.
It is also considered a symbol of royalty and divine power. People who feel they share these characteristics or consider them their most important traits would likely choose the Tiger tattoo.
Tiger tattoos are usually done in a realistic manner, so all the beauty of this incredible big cat could be seen.
Sometimes, a person would do just a roaring tiger head motif, tiger body in motion, resting tiger motif or in some other form. There are many impressive variations and choices.
These tattoo motifs are rarely simplified and eye catching. Sometimes, people choose not to paint actual picture of a tiger, but a tiger Chinese letter.
Tiger’s eye meaning and symbolism
Tiger’s eye has a special significance in the world of symbols. You all know Survivor’s song Eye of the Tiger and the famous James Bond movie.
Of course, tigers’ eye symbolism originates from Asian spiritual interpretations of the magnificent animal. Tigre’s eye meaning is strong, so this motif is commonly used to accent powerful symbolism of the tiger itself. It stands for determination, aggression, fearlessness, courage and strength.
Tiger’s eye stone meaning is more sophisticated. Tiger’s eye semiprecious stone is a yellow, silky golden one and it also appears in blue or red color. This stone is very positive one and it represents:
- Stability and harmony
- Prosperity and fortune
- Vitality and health
This semiprecious stone is highly valued in crystal therapy. It is associated with the element of Earth, it balances life energy, brings health and vitality.
It is linked to zodiac signs of Gemini, Cancer and Sagittarius.