Dharma Wheel Tattoos: Symbolism, Meaning and More

Dharma Wheel Tattoos: Symbolism, Meaning and More

If you’re looking for a representation of mental and moral discipline, a Dharma Wheel tattoo may be an image for you to consider. An ancient symbol from the tenets of Buddhism, this tattoo can provide an excellent representation of a personal code as well as a religious belief.

The Dharma Wheel is a symbol of moral discipline tied to the tenets of Buddhism, with a long and rich history. As a tattoo, it has a great deal of symbolism attached to it, originating from the beginning of Buddhist history.

The article looks at the history, symbolism and designs of the Dharma Wheel tattoo.


What is the History of the Dharma Wheel Tattoo?

The earliest known image of the dharma wheel originates around 300 B.C., in the kingdom of the Emperor Ashoka, who placed the image on carved pillars.

The origin of the Dharma Wheel is rooted in Buddha’s first ever speech on the central tenets of the Buddhist philosophies and faith.

It is considered the central representation of Buddhist tenets of moral discipline.

There is no record of when the Dharma Wheel began to be used in tattoos, but the symbol itself has been around for centuries.


What is the Symbolism of Dharma Wheel Tattoos?

The symbolism of Dharma Wheels is rooted in the tenets of Buddhism. Traditional symbolism is as follows:

The circular shape represents the perfection of the Dharma, and the Buddhist teachings.

– The rim of the wheel represents meditation, concentration and mindfulness: The practices that make the practice of Buddhism possible.

– The spokes represent the 8 Laws of Dharmic Law, or what is sometimes known as the Eightfold Path:

  • Right View
  • Right Resolve
  • Right Speech
  • Right Actions
  • Right Occupation
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

The hub represents Personal Moral Discipline

This is the symbolism of the conventional Dharma Wheel. However, when the Wheel is interposed with the I-Ching design, it can take on slightly different meanings.

 – They can symbolize the different times of day

– They can also represent Different Elements: Fire, Earth, Mountain, Water, Wind, Thunder, Lake, Heaven

– These are elements of existence and balance in the world and can symbolize the forces of creation.


What Meanings Can a Dharma Wheel Tattoo Have?

The simplest and most common meaning for a Dharma Wheel is that the bearer is a practitioner of the Buddhist faith. In this context, the tattoo might represent their dedication to the principles and tenets of Buddhism in their personal life.

– The Dharma Wheel in its most common meaning is a representation of the path to ultimate enlightenment and freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth.

A Dharma Wheel tattoo can also represent a desire for personal discipline in one’s life, to find peace and balance.

It may also represent the cycle of life and death, birth and rebirth.

When shown as a Mandala, it can represent the whole of existence, and the balance of the universe, and the goal of personal enlightenment and attainment of higher states of being.

Sometimes the Dharma Wheel can be depicted within a large lotus. This can represent the tenets of Buddhism as being the core of a person’s strength and potential rebirth.

It can also represent a significant event or change in a person’s life, like a form of rebirth, and the discipline to continue on the path of transformation.


Does the Central Hub Image Change the Meaning?

The image in the central hub is generally one that has a personal meaning to the bearer of the tattoo.

– A ying-yang might represent the mental discipline of  balance and unity in opposites

– A lotus blossom might represent.strength and rebirth or resilience.

– Animals can also be used for central images, with the animal in question representing a specific personal trait, or another influence.

– Abstract images can hold a number of meanings.

What Are the Meanings Behind the I-Ching Wheel Representation?

These wheels can represent the foundations of existence and the balance of elements.

They often represent the balance of human wisdom and intuition, shown through the forces of nature.


Where are Dharma Wheel Tattoos Usually Placed?

The Dharma Wheel tattoo can be placed in a number of different locations.

The most common location is the arm or shoulder, where it is easily visible.

Another common choice is the upper chest on one side or the other, or the center of the back, when used as a more personal affirmation.

A less common choice is the back of the head, or on one hip.

Although it’s a rarer choice, sometimes Dharma wheels can be applied to the hands or feet.

In a unique case, a person applied a Dharma Wheel to their ribcage.


Style and Characteristics of Dharma Wheel Tattoos:

The designs of the Dharma Wheel tattoo have some common characteristics shared between all of them.

Common characteristics include:

– A circular, somewhat abstract,  design

– 8 spokes or divisions

– A central hub

Characteristics that differ among Dharma Tattoos include:

– Some Dharma wheels are done in shapes like lotus blossoms

– Other representations can resemble ship’s wheels or mandalas

– They can also be done in the pattern of the Taoist I-Ching design, as a fusion of personal disciplines and beliefs.

– The image in the central hub is one that usually has a personal meaning to the person bearing the tattoo.

– Dharma Wheels can be stand-alone images, or incorporated into other designs.

– They can be fairly simplistic, or fairly detailed according to the personal interpretation.

– They can be done in simple pen-and-ink design, or they can be done in colors as an illustrated design.

Whether you choose the traditional Dharma Wheel, or the I-Ching adaptation, whether you choose a simple design or a more intricate one, this is an excellent choice of tattoo to represent a philosophy and a way of life.  It’s also a symbol that allows for a universal meaning, but with your own personal touches to make it unique to you.

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