Ok, I've been working on deciphering Riza's Tattoo. I have a bunch of notes (which, as requested by a few people, I will post) and some unpolished Theories. (Which I'll only post one now since the rest are too iffy to talk about without more proof.)
Before I start, here's the up-close pic of the tattoo.
Anyway, this is one major thing anyone who's looking into the tattoo must think about. In alchemy there is a theory called "The Hermaphrodite child of the sun and the moon." The majority of the symbols on her back are connected to this theory. (I posted this theory on this site awhile back.)
Alchemy's Hermphrodite Theory
My personal Journal entry has more theories about how this is connected to the plot but, like I said, I'm not going to post it with the lack of information I currently have.
Riza is/represents the hermaphrodite.
A lot of the symbols on Riza's back link up to the alchemic reasoning of the Hermaphrodite child of the sun and the moon. Such things that are included are the dragons falling to earth, the cross, the sun, the salamander, and fire. (If the dragons are seen as serpents, then it also supports this theory.)
Sub theory 1:
Riza is a hermaphrodite. (o-O) (Let's just hope Arakawa isn't swinging that way)
Sub theory 2:
Riza's personality represents that of the hermaphrodite. Meaning that while she is a woman, she is also have masculine personality traits. (Then again, so does Winry sometimes. NTS: Look into more.)
Sub theory 3:
Riza represents the 'perfect being' in some sense. (See Chap. 53 as noted towards the end of this entry.) She is either the key to helping Father succeed or the key to preventing him from succeeding. (Note:Look it more.)
Anyway, in short, the hermaphrodite is most likely what is represented on Riza's back.
The rest is a bunch of random notes from where I picked apart several parts of the tattoo. Hopefully you guys that are still reading this can find something helpful/add you own findings to help my research.
Volume 6 Manga
Noticed a strange image in Vol. 6, when Ed is inside the gate. Next to the image of a lion eating the sun, there's a picture of an angel(?) with eyes on her wings. Must look into that.
(Nothing to do with Riza, just adding 'cause it caught my attention.)(Note: May be the angel from Revelations in the Bible.)
Animal Symbolism in Alchemy
Blackening - Black Crow, Raven, Toad, Massa Confusa.
Whitening - White Swan, White Eagle, skeleton.
Greening - Green Lion.
Rapid cycling through iridescent colours - Peacock's Tail.
White Stone - Unicorn.
Reddening - Pelican feeding young with its own blood, cockerel.
Final transmutation - Phoenix reborn from the fire
'Another symbol of this stage was the dragon, a familiar inhabitant of the alchemists flasks. The dragon is however a more complex symbol and is also used when winged as a symbol for the spiritualising of the earthly substance. Thus to the alchemists the dragon appeared at the beginning and at the end of the work.'
More on Dragons
The dragon in flames is a symbol of fire and Calcination. Several dragons fighting is symbolic of Putrefaction. Dragons with wings represent the volatile principle; dragons without wings represent the fixed principle. A dragons biting its own tale is the Ouroboros and signifies the fundamental unity of all things.
(Def of calcination) (process of being calcined)
More on Serpents
Two serpents represent the opposing masculine and feminine energies of the Work. Three serpents stand for the three higher principles of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. Winged serpents represent volatile substances; wingless serpents represent fixed substances. A crucified serpent represents the fixation of the volatile.
(Important Question: Are they Dragons or Serpents? Fixed Principles or Fixed substances?)
More on Crowns
The crown symbolizes the successful completion of an alchemical operation or the achievement of a magisterium. It also signifies chemical royalty or the perfection of a metal.
(Def of magisterium)
More on Fire
"That which the fire operates is alchemy, whether in the kitchen or in the universe" as stated by the alchemical forefather Paracelsus 1493-1541. More specifically this ancient alchemy symbol represents divine energy, purification, revelation, and transformation. As such, fire was (and still is) an important sign in the alchemist's arsenal of emblems.
More on the Sun
The ancient alchemy symbol of gold. Worshipped in many cultures, specifically Egypt where Amon-Ra was personified by the evening sun setting at the end of the creative process. Alchemists understood the process of creation, and utilized the symbol of the sun to focus on creating desired effects in their practice – both physically and philosophically.
(Note: Edward also says that the sun represents the soul.)
(Note: Still need to connect 'Cross' to Alchemy.)
(NTS: The“(Al)Chemical Wedding” of Christian Rosenkreutz, and the Archetypal Sevenfold Pattern of Transformation)
Volume 8, Chapter 30, Page 24-25
Looking at this picture, you'll notice that, dead center, there is a picture an 'Caduceus' which is two serpents twining around a rod. (This symbol is often used which medicine and healing.)
"The staff with the twining snakes is based on the staff of Aesculapius, the god of medicine. This was a simple staff with a single snake entwined around it. It has, with variations, become the symbol of medicine. The use of two snakes symbolises the duality of everything, including health. The two snakes cross 7 times (including the heads and tails), symbolising the 7 chakras or main 'energy' centres of the human body as described in Eastern medicine. The twining snakes may also be seen as representing the double helix of DNA." (http://www.acnem.org/miscellaneous/logo.htm)
(This has nothing to do directly with Riza, but it is there and something to think about, so I'm adding it anyway.)
Volume 12, Chapter 53, Page 17-18
On this page, Edward explains the array from the Xerxes Ruins. (Has there been a comfirmed name for this yet?) He explains the the dragons being upside down represent 'God being thrown to earth by human hands'. He goes on to say that the what twining male and female dragons represent saying that Hermaphroditism is the representation of alchemy that indicates a "perfect existence"
I'm not saying anything final, but hopefully those of you as obessed as I am can find something useful in here.
(BTW, If you're interested in random theories, and not easily weirded out, (Yes there is a paternal rape theory, don't ask) here's my journal entry with the rest. They don't make sense, I'll know. I'm still working on them. ---> http://nintendocat.livejournal.com/2582.html#cutid1)
This includes my random thought of Father being Riza's Father. (Once again, don't ask.)
EDIT: Okay, last night a new theory came to me that actually works so I'm going to have to write it down and research into it some more. (Yay for actually re-reading the manga and finding new clues!
EDIT 2: Ok, I deleted a bunch of comments 'cause they were not only rude and pointless, but had little to nothing to do with either the topic or FMA in general. Please don't look at this post if you're not into debating theories.