Monday, February 14, 2011

from: Nick
date: Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 10:56 AM
subject: unknown calf

Hi there,

My brother got this tattoo on his calf many years ago, has no idea what it means.

Can you help????

Thanks, Love the blog.


First of all, the character is not correct. It is either missing a stroke in the left radical or having one extra. The intended character could be:

means "frame; spindle, spool, reel".


means "pure".
This was posted in

Too bad is mirrored.

Friday, February 11, 2011

from: Pat B.
date: Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 6:34 PM
subject: Brad the Art Guy : Business is steady.

I'm in Hong Kong now and in my class we're looking at Chinese folk religion at the moment, so I went looking for a picture of Laozi and found this ... thought you might enjoy it.

Blog: Brad the Art Guy
Post: Business is steady.

"There was a man in North Carolina who got me to draw a portrait of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, which he had transferred to his arm by a talented tattoo artist."

Brad the Art Guy's rendition of 道德經 looks nothing like the real thing.

from: P. McKown
date: Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 7:32 PM
subject: Academic citation

Hi Tian, I'm an undergraduate at an American university and was so inspired by your website that I decided to write a research paper about Chinese textual tattoos. As I was combing through an article looking for additional sources for my paper I noticed that your website was mentioned. It's an article called "The Blood-Stained Text in Translation: Tattooing, Bodily Writing, and Performance of Chinese Virtue" by Daphne Lei, which I've included as an attachment. Your website is mentioned in the second entry in the end notes.

Keep up the great work!


Daphne P. Lei, University of California, Irvine - The Blood-Stained Text in Translation: Tattooing, Bodily Writing, and Performance of Chinese Virtue (PDF) Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 99–128, ISSN 0003-549. © 2009 by the Institute for Ethnographic Research (IFER) a part of the George Washington University. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

from: Tom De R.
date: Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Can you please tell me what this means.
My brother got this last week and is an idiot.

自律 means "autonomy" and means "joy".

However due to the location of the tattoo, one can make a cheeky remark of this young man is "taking care of business himself".