Tiger Mythology & Culture

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The first verse of William Blake's famous poem "The Tyger" sums up for many that feeling of fear and
fascination for the tiger.

The tiger has always played a part in our consciousness.  For two million years the great cat has
roamed the earth and our reverence for this animal has taken many forms.  Different cultures have
developed different myths and the tiger has been a much used symbol for power, strength and beauty.

Everything and everybody from writers to religions, cooperations to sports teams have embraced the
tiger in their psyche and symbolism.

Here are some mythological and cultural connections to the tiger:

In Hindu cultures, the tiger is the sacred vehicle of the Durga, the warrior goddess.  The riding of the
tiger as a symbol of power was also used by the Lord Ayyappa.

One of the most famous tiger "characters" is Shere Khan from the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

Many sports teams use the tiger as a name and mascot including the Detroit Tigers major league
baseball team, the Hull City Tigers English Football team, The Bangladesh Tigers cricket team and the
Wests Tigers Rugby League team from Australia.

However perhaps the most significant symbolism regarding the great cat is its place as a Chinese zodiac.

People born in the Year of the Tiger are considered to have certain traits, some of which are explained

Tigers and the 5 elements Metal Tiger – Years 1950 and 2010
Assertive, competitive and sharp, once Metal Tigers set their sights on their goals there’s no stopping
them. They’ll always do what’s necessary to remain at the center of attention. Metal Tigers tend to jump
to conclusions; a behavior they need to work at improving.

Water Tiger – Years 1902 and 1962
Water Tigers are sensitive and tranquil. They realize that other people have worthy opinions too. They’
re very intuitive which makes them good at accurately judging different situations.

Wood Tiger – Years 1914 and 1974
Not feeling the need to be in charge, Wood Tigers work well with others. Others enjoying being around
Wood Tigers because they’re very giving individuals. They’re compassionate and willing to do whatever
is necessary to help others.

Fire Tiger – Years 1926 and 1986
Expressive, vibrant and a bit eccentric, Fire Tigers are always looking at the positive side of every
situation. Because they’re able to generate excitement in others, they’re considered excellent leaders.
When Fire Tigers speak, others listen – and do what they’re told!

Earth Tiger – Years 1938 and 1998
More grounded in reality, Earth Tigers don’t get carried away by the circumstances of their situations.
Instead, they sit back and evaluate all angles before jumping in. They’re able to stay focused on their
tasks; a trait that helps ensure success.

In 2010, the Year of the Tiger, there is no doubt the most important issue is the status of the tiger as a
species.  It is to be hoped that the wild tiger has a future as part of the planet rather than just a symbol.