Chinese tattoo is becoming increasingly popular these days. While popular Chinese tattoo symbols such as the Chinese equivalent for “love”, “strength”, “brave” have become many's first choice when it comes to getting a Chinese tattoo, more people are starting to be more concerned about uniqueness and originality. Instead of settling over “popular” Chinese tattoo ideas, they want something more special that can truly shine of one's personality. For these people, Chengyu might very well be a lovely cure.
Chengyu, or Chinese idiom, is a special type of idiom in Chinese language. They are usually composed of four characters, with very few exceptions (a handful of Chengyu are in three or more than four characters). Most Chengyu is derived, directly or with slight changes, from ancient Chinese literature. Therefore, Chengyu often appears to be “odd” in structure and grammar, compared with modern Chinese language. Yet, from a tattooing perspective, Chengyu are extremely fit for tattoos, probably the best source for Chinese tattoo symbols. Followings are the detailed explanations of why Chengyu turns out to be a “Natural Born Killer” for tattooing.
1. Chengyu is rich and deep in meaning
If there's only one thing worth mentioning about Chengyu, then it would be its tricky meaning. The thing is, you can never judge a Chengyu by its literal meaning. Since Chengyu is often derived from ancient literature, it actually serves as describing a contextual situation behind what's on the table, rather than conveying its literal meaning.
For example, Po Fu Chen Zhou is a Chengyu that literally means “break cooking pots and sink boats”. Yet, what this “strange” idiom actually means is “to show one's determination to achieve goals at any cost”. This Chengyu originated from a historical battle in which the general ordered his soldiers to break all the cooking pots and sink the boats so that there would be no retreat whatsoever. This extreme method worked and the army finally won the battle, which gave birth to Po Fu Chen Zhou as an inspiring idiom. In fact, you can see this as the Chinese version of “Go For It”.
Wouldn't it be nice if you can have a meaningful Chinese phrase as a tattoo? You can always find the answer from Chengyu.
2. Chengyu is cultural-abundant
As a special type of phrase, Chengyu has a lot to do with Chinese culture. From its wording to its connotation, Chengyu can even be regarded as a spokesman of Chinese culture to some extent. This richness in culture surely give Chengyu a huge advantage for tattooing, in that people often want their Chinese tattoo to be genuine “Chinese”. With Chengyu, you can easily do that.
3. Chengyu is more than large in numbers
If you were concerned about whether there are enough Chengyu for you to select from in order to be both unique and smart, you can be rest assured. Chengyu is not only large in numbers, it's actually Huge in numbers. There are at least 3,000 Chengyu in common usage among modern Chinese language, while there are around 10,000 legitimate Chengyu altogether, with thousands of varieties. The thing is, you can always find a nice Chengyu for tattooing that nobody has ever inked before.
4. The four-character-style gives Chengyu a tattoo-friendly look
As we have discussed before, Chengyu always appears to be in four characters, which is a linguistic custom to express comfortably in Chinese. Somehow, this four-character-style is quite favorable for tattooing. While a single-character tattoo looks concise and smart to some extent, it's not easy to instantly stand out of the crowd with its fairly small size. With a four-character Chengyu you can easily do this. Besides, it's plainly impossible for one character to convey as much as meaningfulness and uniqueness as a four-character Chengyu.
5. Chengyu is smart for tattooing
It finally boils down to this: Chengyu is smart for tattooing. There are countless Chengyu out there with bright, positive, or inspiring meanings that would make an amazing Chinese tattoo. The choices are just unlimited. With its special way of expressing, odd grammar, richness in culture and four-character-style, Chengyu is totally fit for tattooing, in a smart way.
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