Many celebrities have chosen to put Chinese tattoos on their bodies. Have you ever wondered what they mean?

David Beckham's Chinese Tattoo

David Beckham's Chinese Tattoo

David Beckham's Chinese Tattoo

It means

"Death and life have determined appointments, riches and honor depend upon heaven."

It is one of the most meaningful Chinese tattoo I have seen on celebrities. The tattoo was done by one of the best tattoo artists in Hong Kong called Gabe.

Another good translation in English is

"Life and death are decided by fate, wealth and honor are from heaven."

In fact, this is a well-known saying originating from the Analects, a brilliant book (you can get it from Amazon.com for under a $10) noting the remarks of Confucius.

The characters from top to bottom are:

  1. Life -  Pronounced "xeng" in Mandarin, "sang" in Cantonese.
  2. Death - Pronounced "si" in Mandarin, "sei" in Cantonese.
  3. Has - Pronounced "you" in Mandarin, "yau" in Cantonese.
  4. Fate /Determined appointments - Pronounced "ming" in Mandarin, "ming" in Cantonese.
  5. Riches - Pronounced "fu" in Mandarin, "fu" in Cantonese.
  6. Wealth and Honor -  Pronounced "gui" in Mandarin, "gwai" in Cantonese.
  7. From/depend upon - Pronounced "you" in Mandarin, "yau" in Cantonese.
  8. Heaven - Pronounced "tian" in Mandarin, "tin" in Cantonese.

Cher's Chinese Tattoo

Cher's Chinese Tattoo

Cher's Chinese Tattoo

Even Marcus Camby is one of those celebrities who first displayed prominently kanji tattoos, Cher is definitely the pioneer.

She had her Chinese tattoo done in 1983.

The character on her right arm is pronounced "li" in Mandarin, "lik" in Cantonese. She meant to have it mean "strength".

It is the Chinese character which usually stands for for power. It is also the first character of a Chinese double character word for strength. It is best to use the double character if one wants to refer to strength. However, many people nowadays mistakenly use the first character only.

Larry Hughes' Chinese Tattoo

larry_hughes

Larry Hughes

Larry Hughes' Chinese Tattoo

Larry Hughes' Chinese Tattoo

The character means loyalty/loyal. Pronounced "zhong" in Mandarin, "jung" in Cantonese. Larry Hughes said "It's about loyalty to the game and loyalty to myself.

Marcus Camby's Chinese Tattoo

Marcus Camby

Marcus Camby

Marcus Camby's Chinese Tattoo

Marcus Camby's Chinese Tattoo

"I was one of the originators of the Chinese characters," said Camby, who broke into the NBA in 1996. " I want to be the best. And I've got a lot of love for my family." But why in Chinese? "I was into a lot of Chinese flicks," he explains, "a lot of kung fu movies."

The characters from top to bottom are:

  1. Strive to be the best/ Encourage - Pronounced "mian" in Mandarin, "min" in Cantonese.
  2. Clan - Pronounced "zu" in Mandarin, "juk" in Cantonese.

Nick Carter's Chinese Tattoo

Nick Carter's Chinese Tattoo

Nick Carter's Chinese Tattoo


Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter uniquely combined Greek mythology and Chinese art. His Chinese tattoo is the Chinese tranlation for "Poseidon" - the god of the sea in Greek mythology.

The characters from top to bottom are:

  1. Sea - Pronounced "hai" in Mandarin, "hoi" in Cantonese.
  2. God - Pronounced "shen" in Mandarin, "sun" in Cantonese.

Chinese Zodiac Symbols(Characters)


Chinese Zodiac Symbols "Characters"

Chinese Zodiac Symbols "Characters"

Can't find the Chinese tattoo symbol you want? Join www.MiamiInkTattooDesigns.com and Get Instant Access To Over 25,000 Tattoo Designs!

If you want to add something to this article? Write a comment, thank you 🙂

Mike

About Mike

18 Responses to “Celebrities and Chinese Tattoos”

  1. Marek Polkowski Kharkov Ukraine

    Your website is very good, lot of information about Tattoo, thanks that U are have that website

  2. Tjerk

    Hey hello Mike., thanks four the E-Mail. Can you tell my houre to spel the ledders HINKE., buth dan inn Chinese!

    Greets Tjerk..! ent have a’nice wheekend.

  3. Nadine

    Very interesting! I have kanji tattoos. I think they look beautiful. But the meaning has to be the most important factor when deciding!
    Thanks for the info ; )

  4. spartan

    artistic designs, meaningful,inspiring,creative,skillful,thats the beauty of tataoos,in all forms but who understands them,like all great art unless translated,maybe thats the beauty of their unknown meaning,check out s0me great arabic ,greek, african,azetec words, thanks for the translations my chinese is now a little better .. ne.how … keep up the great work ..all artists, crafts and skills..

  5. Janice Brown

    Hi Mike,
    Hello from London. Great info on the translation of David Beckham’s tattoo. So pleased with the Chinese symbols, but was wondering if you could E-mail us with the Chinese symbol for Earth. I have a tattoo on my arm of ‘Yin Yang’ and will be adding the symbol of the Dog, this being the year I was born, but also would like to have the symbol Earth, which is my Yin Yang element. Hope you can help. Many thanks for all the fantastic info. Best Wishes, Jan

  6. nathan

    hey these are really good all the tattoos i get sent off you i draw, i hope you dont mind but i love drawing and im only 16 and drawn all off them perfect well i think they look good there all on my facebook and some off my own thanks alot for the designs…
    nathan 🙂

  7. robin

    I love you all of MIAMI INK member….
    I see all of your TV(Travel living)program.
    I live in Bangladesh…….
    Ok good bye & godluck all member…………

  8. Tanner Robson

    Hi Mike. your information on tattoos (what to do eg: care choosing a design) was very helpful. I am getting my first tattoo soon, I am getting 3 stars on my wrist. it was my second choice because I couldn’t find the right symbol for the chinese word “Spirit”. If you could find the symbol for me and email it to me I would really appreciate it. You can email me at salvatoregirl2@hotmail.co.uk.
    Many thanks xx

  9. hetty

    thanks for these explanation of these tattoos! i ve a tattoo bracelet from chinese signs.

    I love the one from Nick (the poseidon one) its beautifull

    greets

  10. Blazn.

    FYI kanji is japanese this is Chinese lettering it’s wise to spend a little time reserching befor you tattoo on to ur skin as it will be costly to remove or cover up. I would not settle for 1-2 answers but more I would ask few ppl. Ask around goggle.

  11. jennifer lynn pisterzi

    I need a lft shoulder tatt to match nd b blended w the frnt tatt I already have. Can u help me!

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