Saturday, December 4, 2010

from: Samantha M.
date: Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 2:00 AM
subject: My tattoo

Could you tell me what this means? I was young and dumb and was told it meant "Power" Thank you


should have two 口, instead of solid squares.


  1. 權 should have two 口, instead of solid squares. As pointed out by Tian, is due to
    1. Ignorance
    2. Design

    Based on the 2nd character, I'd say it's based on design.

    Meaning: 權 = power
    The "solid squares" would represent to me that "both mouths are shut" which = "people who are fighting to gain power" have no say, which seems paradoxical or ironic.

    Meaning: 加 = to add
    力, strength; power + 口, mouth = 加, to add. 力 "加" "chrysanthemum" = More power to the Emperor. In Japan, the Chrysanthemum stands for the Emperor.

    Maybe it means "More power to the Emperor" and those who are in power have no say when they are subjects under the emperor?

  2. Given how crudely the characters are rendered, I'd say it's actually due to the tattooist not having any idea what the characters are supposed to look like.

  3. The above analysis of the meaning of the first character based on its parts is misguided and wrong. That's not how Chinese characters work. In Japanese, the character is written "権". Either way, the tattoo has it wrong. Also, the meaning of this word is power in the political sense, not as in physical strength or spiritual strength. Most people interested in acquiring political power don't advertise the fact on their arms. For a more abstract sense of "power," the tattoo should just be "力", which can mean all kinds of power.

  4. Wouldn't a more appropriate translation of 權力 be 'authority' rather than 'power'?