Inked to compete

Updated: 2014-07-04 08:29

By Wang Kaihao (China Daily)

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Inked to compete

Spain's Sergio Ramos (right) with teammate Jordi Alba during a news conference in Curitiba on June 14. Spanish defender Sergio Ramos has a tattoo that reads"狼" ("wolf") behind his left ear. [Photo/Agencies]

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In many Westerners' perspective, Chinese characters resemble pictures, he says. So, they often chose some single characters which look beautiful. But since few tattoo artists working overseas originally come from China, those who don't know the language can only copy shapes of characters. Mistakes are therefore inevitable.

"And even artists who know Chinese may not be good at calligraphy, which will make their work look awkward," he says.

Another twist: Many artists inking Chinese character tattoos in Western countries are from Japan and will make a sentence according to their understanding of kanji, neglecting different meanings of the same word in two languages.

Plus, some artists deliberately write the characters on their brochures to avoid piracy by competition.

Apart from Chinese characters, the dragon, the phoenix, and the peony are also among the most commonly inked Chinese-themed images in Western tattoo shops. But even "third-tier artists" in China could make better pieces on these themes than top Western ones, Wang says, smiling.

"When Chinese artists create works using Western themes, they will also make many funny mistakes," he says.

"Cultural differences lead to funny misunderstandings, but still they help spread the culture."