The Tiger is a potent symbol across Asia in many cultures and has long been a fixture in indigenous tattooing in India, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Japan. Tigers are associated with power, ferocity, passion and sensuality, beauty and speed, cruelty and wrath. The appearance of a tiger in a dream may signal that new power or passion may awaken within you.
In Asia the tiger is associated with the power and might of kings, a position similar to the Lion in the Middle East and Europe. (not a terribly surprising symbolism for apex predators who early men would have seen as direct competitors and potent threats.
The Koreans call the tiger the ‘King of the Animals’. In Hinduism the god Shiva, in his aspect of the destroyer, is depicted wearing a tiger skin and riding a tiger. The tiger is generally seen as a symbol of power and strength, but also of destruction and violence. The tiger can be a symbol of both life and death, evil and evil’s senseless or destructive power. In China, tiger images are used as charms to ward off evil. Stone tigers are common protective guards outside of buildings and houses. At the time of the Chou dynasty, images of tigers were hung in pregnant woman’s rooms to protect the unborn baby. In some areas tigers are thought to punish sinners, in the name of a supreme being, by attacking them.
Some Asian cultures have stories about weretigers, people that can change themselves into tigers, much like the werewolves seen in horror movies. According to their legends, the Tibetans and Na-hsi of the Yunnan province in China have descended from tigers. The Na-hsi give tiger figures to boys and girls at their coming-of-age ceremonies and also to newly wed couples.