Help Identifying a Kanji Tatoo

Discussion in 'All Things Japanese' started by Sarah Szabo, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. Sarah Szabo

    Sarah Szabo Registered

    I've received a request from a friend to identify a Kanji tattoo he was interested in getting (I've already run him through the usual reasons why he shouldn't get a Kanji tattoo, but he insists on getting one anyway (It doesn't look half bad either), but I couldn't identify the Kanji it is supposed to represent.

    Here is a picture of someone else with it: (The images are in the attachments in case you need magnification)
    2018-08-13 15.35.22.png

    To me, this appears to decompose into this:
    2018-08-13 15.39.22.jpg

    I couldn't find it in the kanji dictionary that I searched in, and using Google Translate's API didn't return any results, both in the image scan (As is usual for stylised Kanji) or entering the strokes manually. Can you help me identify this Kanji?
  2. joadbres

    joadbres Sempai

    #2 joadbres, Aug 15, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
    You couldn't find it because it is not a kanji.

    It is a symbol written in the Siddham script, most commonly used to write Sanskrit.
    Siddham characters were brought to Japan long ago because of their association with Buddhism. Today, that script is used little outside of Japan. The primary way that the characters are used today in Japan is to write the 'seed syllables' of certain Buddhist deities.

    The symbol in your image appears to be the seed syllable of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra, who is known in Japan as Fugen Bosatsu (bosatsu means bodhisattva).

    Incidentally, in Japan, Fugen Bosatsu is considered the guardian deity of those with the Chinese zodiac signs of dragon and snake. The dragon is associated with those born in the years 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, ... (every 12 years, repeating), and the snake with 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, ... (In China, there is a slight offset for those born at the start of the year, but this is usually not followed in Japan.) If your friend was not born in a dragon or snake year, it might be a little odd to use that symbol, but that is his choice. If your friend wants to instead find the Siddham symbol matching his birth year, he can start by finding his Chinese zodiac animal (see the 'Chinese Zodiac Years' link below), and then find the guardian deity associated with the animal. You can do this by going to the 'Chinese Zodiac Signs' link below, taking note of the kanji in parentheses, and then finding that kanji on the 'Siddham Zodiac Assignments' page below (Japanese only site), and noting the corresponding Siddham symbol. The Siddham symbols on that page are not the most decorative versions available, and thus maybe not suited for a tattoo, but you could probably find a more artistic version with a little web searching. (Or just go with the one on the image you showed us.)

    Samantabhadra Samantabhadra - Wikipedia
    Bodhisattva Bodhisattva - Wikipedia
    Siddham script Siddhaṃ script - Wikipedia
    Seed syllable Bīja - Wikipedia
    Chinese Zodiac Years Chinese zodiac - Wikipedia
    Chinese Zodiac Signs Chinese zodiac - Wikipedia
    Siddham Zodiac Assignments 自分の梵字を知ろう!意味もわかる解説つき

    To find Siddham characters more suitable for a tattoo, you can do a Google image search combining the word 梵字 with the name of the deity. The kanji names of the eight deities shown in the table on the last webpage above are as follows:
    千手観世音菩薩 (also: 千手観音菩薩)
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Thank you Thank you x 1
    • List
  3. Sarah Szabo

    Sarah Szabo Registered


    Wow! Thank you so much for your informative and eclectic post! I'll let him know.
  4. ikkyu15

    ikkyu15 Registered

    It's OM written in sanskrit. Which is just a shorter version of the 1st answer.
  5. joadbres

    joadbres Sempai

    Shorter, and also completely wrong.

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