Heritage

Russia's Last Czar, Nicholas II, Had a Massive Dragon Tattoo

The ill-fated emperor was fond of body art.
IMAGE ALAMY
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In the first episode of The Last Czars, a new docuseries about the end of the Romanov dynasty, there's a scene where the camera zeroes in on Nicholas II's arm, revealing a large tattoo.

It's a quick shot, and almost leaves the viewer wondering if there's a chance the actor simply forgot to cover up the dragon on his right forearm. But the truth is that the Emperor of Russia did indeed have some serious ink.

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Photo by ALAMY.

In 1891, several years before he became Czar, Nicholas traveled to Japan. It was a difficult trip for the royal, in which he was the victim of a failed assassination attempt, but he also got a tattoo while he was there, a depiction of a dragon which reportedly took a total of seven hours of work to complete.

Cultural norms regarding tattoos have shifted dramatically over the past century and a half. But they were quite popular with various members of European royal families near the turn of the century.

For example, in the U.K., Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence and Prince George the Duke of York (who later went on to become King George V, and was Queen Elizabeth's grandfather) both had tattoos, though there is some discrepancy over their subject matter. (Sometimes they are described as crosses; other times dragons, similar to Nicholas's.)

Their father, King Edward VII also notably had a tattoo of a Jerusalem cross, and both Catherine and Peter the Great are believed to have had ink as well.

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WATCH NOW: All six episodes of The Last Czars are streaming now only on Netflix.

*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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Caroline Hallemann
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