Tiger

This page is about the meaning, origin and characteristic of the symbol, emblem, seal, sign, logo or flag: Tiger.

Image of the Tiger

In parts of Asia, the tiger supplants the lion as the so-called “King of Beasts”. Its ferocity and majestic appearance have given it important symbolic meaning in cultures throughout the continent.

In the Chinese system of the cardinal directions- North, East, South and West- the tiger is one of four creatures (the others being the tortoise, the phoenix and the dragon) that guards the points of the compass. In many cases, the tiger is associated with the West and the element of metal, although this role is sometimes filled by the Ki-Lin, a mythical Chinese creature similar to a unicorn. The tiger is also a symbol of strength and courage in China and, as such, is closely associated with military prowess. These particular themes extend into more esoteric dimensions as well; as the third animal of the Chinese zodiac, people born during the Year of the Tiger possess bravery and determination as their signature qualities.

Hindu tradition associates the tiger with the deities Shiva and Durga, and the animal’s reputation for ferocity plays an important role in both cases. As the ultimate ascetic (renunciant), Shiva is often portrayed either wearing a tiger skin or sitting on one. This symbolizes his conquest of the rampant appetites and desires that plague other beings. The fierce goddess Durga was created by other Hindu deities to destroy evil demons. In that capacity, she carries a different weapon in each of her ten hands and is often portrayed riding a tiger (the symbolic link is clear).

All of these connections between the tiger and ferocity are plain for anyone to see, but there is another side to the coin of their symbolism. Despite their deadly reputation, or rather because of it, tigers are also key symbols of protection. Female tigers are extremely aggressive in defending their young, and in China, images of tigers are placed on graves as a way to frighten off malevolent spirits who may want to harm the dead. In Buddhist belief, the tiger symbolizes senseless anger on the one hand, but is also seen as a creature of awareness and confidence, merging together the diverse symbolism associated with this mighty animal.

It has a double meaning sun and moon; creator and destroyer.

Buddhist: one of three foolish animals of Chinese Buddhism, represents anger.

Categories: Animal Symbolism, Chinese Symbols.

Tiger is part of the Buddhist Symbols, Hindu Symbols groups.

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Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest cultures. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between… read more »

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"Tiger." Symbols.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014. <http://www.symbols.com/symbol/2113>.

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