Yin yang is a Chinese cultural philosophy that’s at least 3500 years old and is the basis of other lines of thinking like Taoism and Confucianism. At its core, the concept suggests that everything in the universe is made up of opposing but complementary forces—dark and light, sun and moon, good and evil. These forces are constantly competing, but they’re also continually governing the rules of the universe so that everything progresses and exists with both halves of the yin yang in tandem.
The yin yang philosophy is represented by a symbol consisting of a circle separated into two halves by a curved line. Individually, yin (the black half) represents an inward energy that is dark and still, whereas yang (the white half) has outward energy that is positive and bright. However, each half of the yin yang symbol has a small dot of the opposing color, representing that there cannot be one without the other—they’re completely intertwined. The line itself is curved to represent that no divide between the two halves is absolute.
For those who are connected to the culture or who just feel represented in the philosophy of yin yang, the symbol makes a great tattoo. Whether you’re thinking of a simple symbol, a deconstructed one, or something else entirely, here are 20 yin yang tattoos to inspire you.
Small Yin-Yang Tattoo
A simple yin-yang with no extra detailing looks great next to other small tattoos. The minimalist approach is chic and dainty without feeling boring.
Behind-the-Ear Yin-Yang Tattoo
Behind the ear is a great location for a yin-yang tattoo because the symbol seems to sit perfectly in the area. Keep the design simple so as not to draw too much attention if you want to be able to cover it.
Deconstructed Yin-Yang Tattoo
A deconstructed yin-yang design is a great choice for those who want to go deeper into the symbolism and highlight each part. Try placing it along the muscle behind the ear to make it feel like a natural part of the body.
White Ink Yin-Yang Tattoo
While a mere depiction of the concept of yin and yang rather than an actual rendering of the symbol, this intricate design done partially in white ink tells a beautiful story of the sun and moon living harmoniously.
Lotus Flower Yin-Yang Tattooo
The addition of ornamentation, like a lotus flower or dot work, expands the beauty of the yin-yang symbol.
Outline-Only Yin-Yang Tattoo
Play with the idea of the duality of yin and yang by using outline-only drawings instead of straight black ink. Keep the typically white side completely empty to play up the contrast.
Wrist Yin-Yang Tattoo
Placing a small tattoo on the outer wrist is a great idea for anyone who likes to show off their ink. It’s easy to cover up as well, in case you'd rather temporarily conceal it.
Celestial Yin-Yang Tattoo
Emphasize the yin-yang’s meaning of light and dark coexisting in the universe by juxtaposing the symbol with a moon and a sun. Add detail to the extra images and keep the yin-yang simple to highlight its importance.
Fish Yin Yang Tattoo
Instead of the traditional yin-yang symbol, you may want to try depicting the symbol with other characters, such as two fish. Instead of having one be stark black, use shading to add color without being too bold.
Disappearing Yin-Yang Tattoo
Instead of outlining both halves of the yin-yang symbol, use negative space to keep the design a bit open-ended. This one uses feathering to give it a painted-on look.
Matching Yin-Yang Tattoos
As the yin-yang symbol is two separate halves coming together to form a whole, it’s a great tattoo to match with someone else. Split the sign into two and get the side that most represents you!
Cat Yin-Yang Tattoo
Customize the traditional yin-yang symbol by making the halves something meaningful to you or just something you really love. This one uses contrasting cats for a personal touch.
Super Simple Yin-Yang Tattoo
If you want to go for a delicate, minimalist approach to your tattoo, make sure the lines and blackwork are extremely crisp. By using simple shapes and thin lines, the design shines without the need for extra detail.
8-Ball Yin-Yang Tattoo
Add whimsy to your tattoo design by playing with the shapes and proportions of the yin-yang symbol. This ink mimics the look of an eight-ball for a fun and unique twist.
Snake Yin-Yang Tattoo
For anyone who likes the symbolism of the yin-yang but wants to personalize it, try adding the halves as ornamentation to a larger design. The curves of this snake make the perfect space for the yin yang halves to nestle into.
Aquatic Yin-Yang Tattoo
Fish are a great representation of the yin-yang symbol because just as the light and dark of life are fluid, so is the movement of the aquatic creatures. Use shading and fine details to customize the fish further.
Finger Yin-Yang Tattoo
The finger is a great placement idea for a yin-yang symbol because it can easily be adapted to a small space. Use white ink to add light-like details that make it pop without overwhelming the finger.
Calf Yin-Yang Tattoo
Keep the ink itself simple if you want it to be more intimate, or personalize it with intricate details.
Inner Finger Yin-Yang Tattoo
If you like the look of a deconstructed yin-yang symbol, another great spot to get one is on the side of the finger. Keep the shapes simple and small for a chic and not too busy look.
Watercolor Yin-Yang Tattoo
A yin yang symbol doesn’t have to be minimal or super simple. Spice up the design by getting your ink in a fun, specific style, like watercolor tattoos.