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, the tiger is one of four creatures 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 is closely associated with military prowess. As the third animal of the Chinese zodiac, people born during the Year of the Tiger possess bravery and determination as their signature qualities.

Hinduism associates tigers with the deities Shiva and Durga, and the animal’s reputation for ferocity plays an important role in both cases. As the ultimate ascetic, or religious 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.

While the tiger's association with ferocity is plain for anyone to see, there is another, more complex side to their symbolic meaning. 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. This is done in the hope of frightening 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.

Graphical characteristics:
Asymmetric, Open shape, Monochrome, Contains curved lines, Has no crossing lines.

Categories: Animal Symbolism, Chinese Symbols.

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

More symbols in Buddhist Symbols:

More symbols in Hindu Symbols:

More symbols in Chinese Symbols:

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 »

More symbols in Animal Symbolism:

Have a discussion about Tiger with the community:


Use the citation below to add this symbol to your bibliography:


"Tiger." Symbols.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <http://www.symbols.com/symbol/tiger>.

We need you!

Are we missing an important symbol in this category?