Chinese characters have a complex beauty as well as individual meanings. People who get Chinese tattoos are often drawn to this. Unfortunately, the flip-side is that there are a lot of pitfalls for the unwary. I have personally seen such elementary mistakes as a tattoo with the Chinese Symbol being tattooed reversed or defaced.The vivid samples of such mistakes of Chinese Symbol tattoos as below :
Missing strokes and defacing Symbols . The majority of tattoo artists in western countries know nothing about Chinese, not to mention how to write them correctly. Missing strokes are common mistakes and thus making the tattoos meaningless, and the poor penmanship defaces the Chinese characters and makes them look ugly. Wearing meaningless Chinese symbol tattoos is embarrassing. The following photos are the examples of missing strokes and degaced chinese symbols, the red characters besides the circle are the correct one.
Chinese Symbols Being Tattooed Backwards. A much more common mistake is that the Chinese characters are flipped horizontally or vertically and thus is a mirror image of what it should be. I think this might be the problem when people use temporary tattoos or work from those because after a while they might get confused as to which side is the correct one. To have a Chinese symbol tattooed on you backwards is also embarrassing. The pictures below show you how a Chinese character being tattooed backwards. the red characters are correct one.
Mistranslation. Chinese characters are complex and can easily be mean something other than intended. Get the wrong one and your new Chinese symbol tattoo will be a permanent source of embarrassment to you! A lady has told me her Chinese symbol tattoos experiences:/p> After deciding have a Chinese writing tattoo, She went to Chinese restaurant and pull over a Chinese waiter and asked him to write out the word "free" in Chinese characters for her, free has two meaning in English dictionary, the first one is free of charge and the second meaning is freedom which was the lady wanted, the waiter wrote down the first meaning in Chinese for the lady. The lady ended up with the sign "free of charge" on her skin and it was end up with spending US$900 to remove the tattoos.
Do not know the meaning. I have come across many western people who do not know the meaning of their Chinese writing tattoos. Tattoo is a way of self expression. If anyone curiously ask you the meaning of your tattoos, answering them either do not know or make up the meaning is quite awkward.