Saturday, February 26, 2005

Kun Theater Ticket

When I forwarded the tattoo image above to my associates, each one of them had their own interpretations.

Aaron: "The first one is usually pronounced 'kon', and it kind of means 'a swarm'. But evidently it used to be read 'ani', which is older brother. Also I guess it also meant grandchildren or something at another time. The second character means 'certificate', basically. So I have no idea. Brother certificate? A swarm of certificates?"

Rex: "This has no meaning in Japanese what so ever. The first character is used in 昆虫 insects (referring to "variety" kinds of bugs) and is also used in 昆弟 referring to two brothers - - represents the older brother - but this is never used at all. Maybe they meant to write "fist" instead. What they have here, , is 'ticket'. Looks like they messed up again."

I guess 昆拳 may be the tattoo owner's original intention to represent the insect-like fighting style, which is common in . For example, there is a fighting style mimics the insect mantis called .

Todd (aka. "You Dork") points out the tattoo may just mean "theater ticket". Considering the second character indeed means "ticket", and there is a style of opera in China called 昆曲.

"Kunqu(昆曲, pinyin: Kūnqǔ), also known as Kunju or Kunqu Opera, is a kind of Chinese opera. It was listed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2001. Its melody or tune is one of the Four Great Characteristic Melodies in Chinese opera." (

Does anyone have any more insights?


  1. The sun rays really make me want to read 昆 as a mistaken 昇, and then if 券 is supposed to be 拳 the whole thing could mean "rising fist".

  2. oops 来ん ー> 昆

  3. The other possibility is that 券 might have been meant to be 勝, but I'm still at a loss for how to tie that together with 昆. Bug victory? Or perhaps 来んwas meant to be 混 and then you could get a mixed/pyrric victory?

    Nah, too much of a stretch even for me.

  4. hmmm... maybe this is just someone's name. i personally would rather get a tattoo of my 姓 rather than my 名, but it's not unheard of for people to do that.

  5. A bit of a stretch (crunch?) but
    might the artist have been tring for the single character 暴?
    The red radiating lines would go right with the violent or explosive image.